Uncovering Happiness: Finding happiness in a messed-up world. 4. Mercy and purity
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
So, we are in our fourth week of going through the beatitudes. Our focus with this study has been to see that the beatitudes are not a list of ideals to put on, or a list of nice characteristics that we can apply to our lives. We have seen that they are the characteristic of a what a person looks like and who they are when they have entered into the kingdom of God. And the outworking of the gospel is blessedness, or as the Greek means; delightful fulfilment.
Now so far in our study we have seen that the beatitudes are broken up into two parts; the first four are how you enter the Kingdom, essentially the attitudes of those who are born again. And what we are starting tonight is what this does to those who have entered; how do they act and interact with others.
Now just to recap so that we are all on the same page; we saw that how you get into the kingdom of God is through: 1. Poverty of Spirit 2. Mourning 3. Meekness 4. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
Essentially; those who enter the kingdom have a poverty in Spirit they understand that they cannot help themselves, they essentially need help.
They mourn over the fact that they realise that their real problem is their sin, so they have mourned over their sin.
They are meek, they realise that their help comes from God and so in humility are dependent upon His grace and they hunger and thirst for His righteousness, they realise that they are who they are not by their own goodness, but the perfect goodness of Christ.
So, essentially those who have entered the Kingdom of God are those who have engaged and really believed the gospel.
Now, just as a side before we get to our study tonight I want to really get something clear; the gospel is not simply an intellectual reality – it is not something simply to be understood. It is a whole person reality. What I mean by this; we can intellectually get that I need to recognise my need, and then repent of my sins and see Jesus as my only hope.
However, unless that has become our life; until we have delighted in Him, we know this not only in our head but in our heart; it will never change us. We are to engage the gospel with our whole lives, mind heart and will! Until the gospel has impacted you on every level it will never be your life and therefore won’t have the impact it should.
You will never discover the blessed life (the delightful fulfilment) that Jesus promises here until the gospel shapes you on every level. So, with that covered; let’s get to our study tonight. The outworking of someone who is engaged by the gospel is that they are delightfully merciful and delightfully pure.
So, what does it mean to have a;
1. Delightful mercy
Jesus calls us who have entered the kingdom, who have engaged grace and it has changed us to be merciful, for we will be shown mercy.
Now, I want you to get this because Jesus goes to great length in His teachings to make this clear; mercy is the by-product of those who have been shown mercy, forgiveness is the in the hands, and is the proof of those who have been forgiven. In other words, the call to be merciful here is impossible unless one has entered into the kingdom, unless they have had grace crash into their lives. As English poet Alexander Pope said; “to err is human but to forgive is divine.” In, other words no-one is perfect, let us reflect on what God does which is forgive and be like him.
Now this sounds beautiful and let’s be real, we would all like a little grace when it is us messing up. But when we have been the party who has been wronged; we don’t want to forgive we want revenge! Why, because forgiveness cost. Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to forgive someone? It is because you will be taking upon yourself the cost of that forgiveness.
I’ll illustrate like this; if I come into your house, and break one of your plates you have two options; you can demand that I pay for a new one (restitution) or you say you know what I know it was an accident don’t worry about it. Now think about this, you saying, “don’t worry about it” doesn’t magically fix the plate; you are going to have to replace it, or just absorb the loss of that plate. This is the reality of all forgiveness, there is always a cost. Someone has to take a loss for forgiveness to be administered. And this is why, merciful people are gospel people. You see the only way you can cover a cost is if you have the resources to do so. If not you will need restitution; you will need the other to cover the cost.
Let’s think of a forgiving someone who has wronged you more than just a plate. Say I swindle you out of your pension or steal everything in your bank account.
Now taking the cost of that becomes more difficult; because to forgive me means that you have to take an incredible cost to yourself right. Unless you have no pension and there is not very much in your bank account… But then to forgive becomes a little more difficult. The demand of forgiveness goes up as the value of what is taken or the weight of the wrong goes up. Why? Because forgiveness is never free! Never! So why are gospel people (or Kingdom people) delightfully merciful. They know the cost of their own forgiveness.
You see each and every one of us know we have done wrong, the problem is that we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter. It was just private, no one knows. The problem with this kind of thinking is that all sin is essentially you demanding your own way at the expense of God. And therefore, all sin is against Him. And we feel this deep down, and this is the reasons for our chronic guilt and shame. The problem is we keep telling ourselves it is not; when deep down we know it is not. Why? God cannot simply forgive you because all forgiveness is costly. And the cost of your sin is death because God is perfectly holy! . God is the source and reason of life so when we step out against Him we step into death.
Therefore, for God to forgive you will come at incredible cost, and he ultimate takes that upon himself, and that is why the cross is necessary.The mercy that God gave you came because Christ bore the cost of your forgiveness. Christ step out of His life into your death so that you could receive His life. Because of this we have a profound resource to administer mercy to others. We have a profound resource of forgiveness because we have been given so much at such a great cost.
Once you have reconciled the cost of your forgiveness, once you have seen how much it cost God to love you, and He does! Then we have an unending pool of mercy to give to other who wrong us. And the way I have made this practical in my life is when I find someone saying or doing something that is wrong to me; I realise that they are broken people, and then I realise that I am a broken person that God loved through the cross, surely I can love this person through the cross as well.
This is why those who show mercy will be shown mercy, as we reflect on the forgiveness we administer so we enjoy our own forgiveness for it is only through the cross that we are forgiven and therefore it is only through the cross that we can forgive.
The Gospel makes us people of mercy, we delight in mercy, because mercy was given to us. Now, this has implication on how we see poor people on how we treat each other and how we see the world and I would love to develop this more but we don’t have the time but we will cover this in more depth sometime in the future. Let’s move on.
Next, we see that those who have entered the kingdom, those who know grace, have…
2. Delightful purity
Again, this is only possible to those who know the gospel because of the way Jesus puts this in the Greek. You see Jesus says blessed are those who are pure in heart.
Now heart here is not simply the beating muscle in your chest and it is not your emotions as we often understand it in our western influenced world-view. The heart in this passage is the inner man, the core of our being, who you are at your deepest.
Now Jesus says delightfully fulfilled are those who are pure in their hearts, in their deepest core. Now I don’t know about you, but when I go deep with myself, we I look at my core, I don’t see purity…
So how is this at all possible? Well with man this is not but with God all things are possible. You see in the Greek the word for pure here means unmixed or clear. And so, it has the idea of a focus of purity.
Now you will never be able to do this by yourself. Through your will, or any other way. At your core, you must see that you are anything but pure, anything but clear and unmixed. We are at our core a mess, one day we love one thing the next we hate it. The one day we are drive the next we can’t get out of bed.
Jeremiah gives us clarity into our condition when He writes in Jeremiah 17:9
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” How could we ever get to a place of happiness; of delightful fulfilment if the core of our being is a mess? Well you can’t! And that is the problem.
The only way would be to change your heart, to completely change your inner life, and in fact the New Testament goes to great lengths to show us that this simply can’t happen until you are reborn, or become something that you are not.
We have to be born again! We have to be a new creature! That is the only way to heal our inner life. And the only way to do that is the gospel church!
You see it is only in the gospel that you are taken off the seat of your own life, out of the centre of your inner life and it is replaced completely and sufficiently with God. Why? Because it is only in the gospel that you don’t have to prove yourself to be accepted. It is only in the gospel that acceptance comes first because of what Christ has done and so it is only in the gospel that you are permanently and effectively taken out of the centre of your lives and God is place there.Why? Well, because if you are working for your acceptance, then your life is essentially about you, what you can achieve, your righteousness, and because of our broken hearts, God becomes a means to an end and not an end in Himself. You see with this mentality we obey God because either we don’t want to be punished by Him or we want him to owe us so that we can get something from Him.
I have read my Bible, prayed and been a good person; God owes me! God is not your love, he is not the centre He is something else to be used and so our lives are then ruled by our hearts, which is a mess!
In the gospel, we come to God with nothing and He gives us everything, not because we are good enough, but because He paid the price. And that frees our heart for the first time so that now we are not using God, why? Because we realise that in the gospel we can do nothing for him to make Him love us less or more, so it is only there in that love, in the realisation of His love for us that we can actually love Him, He becomes an end in Himself – we love Him for His beauty and wonder now because of what we get from Him. He becomes the centre of our being, not to avoid punishment, and not so that we can be blessed, but because we love Him, and we love Him because He first loved us!
This is someone who is pure of heart; they are unmixed because God actually is the all and centre of their inner most being!And church, more than anything else this is the start and finish of a life of delightful fulfilment! You were made for Him and so your happiness starts and ends in Him being your all; and that is only possible in the gospel!
See His love, know what it cost and delight in Him and the cross, this will make you a new person, you cannot enter the Kingdom and leave unchanged. You cannot know the gospel in the inner most part of your being and leave the world unaffected.
The gospel really changes everything!