The beatitudes begin with a right attitude of ourselves, an understanding that we cannot save ourselves. Then they show we must have a right attitude toward sin: We must mourn over it. Then we must have a right attitude toward God and our fellow man: We must be meek, for we are what we are by the grace of God. These attitudes build in us a deep desire for God's righteousness.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (v. 7).
We here find the first challenge in the beatitudes. There is a reason why this beatitude falls here. If you are truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness, then you will be tested.
It is in the practice of mercy and maintaining a pure heart that we show the outward work of our renewed attitudes.
Think about the order of the beatitudes. Imagine if mercy was our first stair-step. Unless you knew you were a sinner saved by grace, unless you mourned over your sin, unless you had meekness toward God and others, and unless you were genuinely pursuing righteousness—there is no chance you would show mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (v. 8).
What does it mean to be pure in heart? The heart is the sum total of the mind (our intellect and our understanding), the emotions (our feelings), and the will (our decisions).
But the heart is also the seat of all our problems. It is the seat of what is wrong with each one of us. Jesus said, "[O]ut of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander" (Matthew 15:19). Our heart can be both a fountain of evil and the seat of saving faith.
"Blessed are the pure in heart" is not a reference to our initial coming to Christ in faith. All believers are purified in Christ, and all believers will see God face to face in heaven. But to the pure in heart, God promises a reward not merely in heaven, but here on earth.
Here Jesus is promising that those with sincerity of motive and purity of devotion toward Him will see a measure of God's glory here on earth. Hearing God's voice, witnessing a miraculous answer to prayer, and being filled with the Spirit are like seeing God.
It is in the practice of mercy and maintaining a pure heart that we show the outward work of our renewed attitudes. In today's world, where everyone is clamoring to the top in search of success, wealth, and fame, God calls us to climb the opposite way—to submit to Him and to serve others, trusting that He will make His face to shine upon us.
Prayer: Father, establish Your teaching in my heart so that I will be a living testimony of Your renewing, life-changing work to those around me. God, be glorified. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).