Jesus followers become different on the outside. Once our hearts have been changed and transformed it spills over into everyday life – even in Joburg 2021.
Changed Inside, Different Outside
In this second sermon in his series on Jesus’ sermon on the mount Farai Mbirimi focuses on the second set of four statements by Christ in the beatitudes. These speak specifically to how disciples will be demonstrably different to the world around them.
Before I had no desire to live by the Bible or God’s word. Now I now have a new appetite: I want to live for Jesus.
“The first four beatitudes have to do with our position before God, our brokenness before God. And then the last four have to do with how we live out this new life in the world.”
“Before I had no desire to live by the Bible or God’s word. But because of this work that Jesus begins deep inside of me, because of this transformation and change that takes place inside of me, I now have a new appetite. I want to live for Jesus; I want to obey him. And I want to do all that I can to bring him pleasure and joy and glory.”
Sermon Topics & Timestamps
00:00 – We Are Called To Be Different Outside
00:50 – Our Point of Departure
01:40 – These People Are Blessed
03:49 – Internal Change Must Spill Over
06:38 – What Makes You Different From The World?
07:00 — 1. Blessed Are The Merciful
09:10 – What Is Biblical Mercy?
13:50 – The Merciful Will Be Shown Mercy
16:34 — 2. Blessed Are The Pure In Heart
17:08 – What Does Pure In Heart Mean?
22:05 – The Pure of Heart Will See God
23:40 — 3. Blessed Are The Peacemakers
24:03 – Peacemakers Still Experience Conflict
27:32 – Peacemakers Will Be Called Sons of God
29:58 – How Does The World React To You?
30:50 – Blessed Are Those Persecuted For Righteousness
34:03 – Great Is Their Reward In Heaven
35:13 – I Don’t Think I Can Do This…
35:55 – We All Need To Ask God For Help
Different Outside: Top Quotes
“We have no problem receiving mercy for ourselves, but we have a problem giving mercy to other people.”
“Jesus followers produce something – you are a peacemaker; a peace producer.”
“We know persecution. Like when the family call us to go and slaughter to the ancestors and we say “No”.”
More TGC Africa Content On This Topic
Text: Matthew 5:7-12
Date Preached: 28 February 2021
Location: C4 Cross Centered Community Church, Bryanston, South Africa
C4, if you’ve been here before then you will know that we are in our series ‘Different’. If you missed the first talk you can find it here.
We Are Called To Be Different
Now, in this series my desire, my hope and prayer for us, as a church and as individuals, is that we would grow and we would become what Jesus calls his people to be: different in the world. And so last week we started looking at the beatitudes. We looked at the first four of the beatitudes. And this is a sermon just by the way Jesus is preaching called the Sermon on the Mount which starts in Matthew 5, Matthew 6 and Matthew 7 [Correction of Luke].
Something has to be different and it has to be different within you.
And so in the first four beatitudes Jesus says that there has to be an internal change – something has to be different and it has to be different within you. It starts within you.
The Point of Departure
And you start at a point of realisation in Matthew 5:3 that you are poor in spirit. And so he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. And the word blessed means approved by God. The truly happy person is the one who’s come to a realisation that before a Holy God, I have no standing. Before a Holy God, I cannot earn his love, I cannot earn his favour, I cannot find forgiveness for myself because of the spiritual state that I’m in.
You start at a point of realisation that you are poor in spirit.
Because I’ve chosen to rebel against God; because you and I have chosen to say no to God and yes to ourselves, we are spiritually bankrupt before God. And so Jesus says that’s where you start: when you know inwardly, when you know internally that it needs to be a work that only God can do because you are poor in spirit.
These People Are Blessed
And then the next step: you begin to mourn over the brokenness in your own life. The effects of sin and the impact sin in our lives – the impact of our rebellion against God – must cause us to mourn and to cry before him, “Lord! I have blown it! Lord, I have done it again, please would you forgive me”. We come with a posture, we come with an attitude, of confession and asking for forgiveness from God, because of our sin and brokenness.
So Jesus says the approved person is the one who mourns over their sin. And then he goes further to say something even more mind blowing. He says the blessed person – the one who is approved by God – is the meek person.
Before I had no desire to live by the Bible or God’s word. Now I now have a new appetite. I want to live for Jesus.
And my dear friends meekness does not equal weakness. Meekness is simply humbling myself before God, coming to a point and realising that there is a God in heaven, and that he rules and he reigns – he is king – and he does as he pleases. And so I humble myself to him; I live for his pleasure, I live for his plans. And so, in the world, the way that I deal with people in my thoughts, my words and my deeds, it is governed by humility before God; brokenness before God.
And then we get a new hunger, we get a new thirst and a new appetite, says Jesus. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We want to live the way that God has called us to do. Before I had no desire to live by the Bible or God’s word. But because of this work that Jesus begins deep inside of me, because of this transformation and change that takes place inside of me, I now have a new appetite. I want to live for Jesus. I want to obey him. I want to do all that I can to bring him pleasure and joy and glory.
Making Our Transformation Visible
And so those are the first four beatitudes we looked at. This morning, as we continue in Matthew 5, won’t you come with me. We’re gonna look at Matthew 5:7-12.
And here’s what Jesus is doing now. He says the true disciple, once there’s been this transformational work that takes place, once there’s been this change within us – deep within us – once our hearts have been changed and transformed, it needs to be seen. It spills over into your everyday life.
So the first four beatitudes have to do with our position before God, our brokenness before God. And then the last four have to do with how we live out this new life in the world.
Once our hearts have been changed and transformed, it spills over into everyday life.
And so in Matthew 5:7-12 these are the things that ought to mark us when the world looks at us. These are the things that the people around you ought to see about you when they look at you.
So C4 can I just tell you, the four things that we are going to look at are counter-cultural. This is not how you and I are born. This is not how you and I naturally live. But we can do this – only because of the internal work of God that is taking place.
And so won’t you come with me as we look at two things that come out from Matthew 5:7-12. And the two things are, as Jesus has them: number one, your attitude to the world around you. And the second thing we are going to look at is the world’s attitude towards you.
A Dramatic Spilling Over!
So the blessed person, the one who has been approved by God, is the one who displays these characteristics, these marks, in the world. Jesus says your trust and your faith in him needs to spill over into everyday life. So I wonder this morning if any of you have ever done this? I grew up with a bunch of guys and sometimes we used to do this. We were very naughty! And I wonder if you ever did this.
We would go and buy a bottle of coke and then we’d shake it a little bit, just a little bit – not too much! And then slowly open it at then throw in a marble or a stone or whatever it is that we had, and then we’d sit back and watch what would happen.
And you know what would happen, don’t you? It begins to spill over. Have you ever done that? We were naughty. We used to do stuff like that. The coke begins to overflow out of the bottle. That’s the picture that I want you to have, C4, as we look into the four things that Jesus says a disciple – a Jesus-follower – ought to display in the world.
Because of this work, this transformational work that has happened within you, it begins to be seen in how you live.
So, let’s have a look at it. Your attitude towards the world as Jesus has it here.
What Makes You Different From The World?
He says, because you are my disciple, there are three things that ought to mark you out and make you different from the world. And the first of those three things, notice it there in Matthew 5:7, I hope that you are there with me, Matthew 5:7, here are the three things. They are counter-cultural. You won’t live like this in your own nature. It is the work of God.
1. Blessed Are The Merciful
He says there Matthew 5:7, check it out: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. Jesus says the approved man, the approved woman of God, the real Jesus-follower, is a merciful person. They go around giving mercy wherever they are.
We have no problem receiving mercy for ourselves, but we have a problem giving mercy to other people.
So you and I, we love mercy for ourselves, don’t we? We love mercy. We love to go before God and say, “Lord I’ve blown it. Lord, I’ve done that thing again that upsets you. I’ve done the thing again that brings shame and guilt and dishonour. I’ve dishonoured your name. So Lord, have mercy on me!”
We have no problem saying that before God. But do you know when we have a problem? When we need to show mercy to somebody else. We have no problem receiving mercy for ourselves, but we have a problem giving mercy to other people.
Hypocrisy Rules OK
So check this out. When I am late – I need to be somewhere and I am running late – I tell myself, “It’s OK to speed. It’s OK to even cross over the amber light or the red light, because listen, you are late! And so you need to get to where you need to be quickly”.
But here’s the thing. When somebody else is speeding, when somebody else goes over the red light, I go angry! And I start saying things like, “Where is JMPD? Where are the cops when you need them? And when they do stop this person, this person needs to be read the riot act. They need to be thrown in prison!” But when it’s me, and the cops stop me, I plead for mercy! I say all sorts of things just to have mercy shown to me. But when it’s others, then they need to be thrown in the prison.
But look what mark the Jesus-follow has. Look what Jesus says those who are his disciples ought to be: “Blessed are those who are merciful”. The true believer is the one who shows mercy all the time in how they live their lives.
What Is Biblical Mercy?
So here’s what we need to do church. We just need to stop and define what the word mercy actually means. What is biblical mercy?
So here’s what biblical mercy is. It’s the withholding of just judgement. So you are found guilty. It is found that you have broken the law, that you have transgressed. Transgression means that you have cut across. There’s a standard and you go and you cut across that: that’s transgression. And so you are guilty before God.
Mercy is the withholding of just judgement. It’s not getting what you deserve.
So perhaps maybe when you were growing up your parents, your mum or your dad, they caught you with your hand in the cookie jar or doing something, and you are guilty! And so, they choose to treat you not the way you ought to be treated because of your sin. That is mercy. It’s the withholding of just judgement.
Mercy is overlooking the shortcomings of somebody else. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. That’s what mercy is. So mercy has to do with compassion: mercy and compassion go together.
The Story Jesus Tells…
Jesus tells of a story, he tells of the story of the man who was robbed – while he was on his way on a journey – he was robbed and he was left half-dead. And two people came and they saw him and they passed over, they went across the road – didn’t want anything to do with him. But another man, who was a sworn enemy of the people of God – a Samaritan – he comes across, sees this man half-dead, and he stops. And he binds up his wounds, puts him on his donkey and he takes him to an inn. Then he says to the guy at the inn, “Please take care of this guy and I’ll pay whatever charges that are run up because of him”.
And so Jesus then asks the people, “Who was it who showed this man mercy?” And everybody says, it was the Samaritan. And so that’s what mercy is. It looks at a situation, it looks at a situation taking place and it is filled with compassion, and it is moved into action, it does something.
My dear friends, this morning, here’s what I want you to know. That the word mercy is an action word. It is a doing word. It requires you to do something, to spring into action. To either show compassion or to withhold just judgement.
Are You Merciful In The Office?
So as I am speaking to you, I want you to picture your office. If you are back at the office. Or maybe it’s within the team that you are working with, and somebody does not deliver. Somebody is slacking, not pulling their weight. What does mercy look like? What does mercy look like?
Or maybe somebody in your team is not doing well, because of lockdown, because of all sorts of things, they have fallen apart. What does compassion look like?
In our culture, we say there is no mercy – if you show mercy it means that you are weak.
Because here’s the thing, Jesus says, “You are different. The way you deal with people in your office ought to be different”. Because “Blessed”, says Jesus in Matthew 5:7, “are the merciful”.
What does mercy look like? What does it look like? Maybe you are part of a team, maybe you’re the team leader, or maybe it’s even your boss who is dropping the ball. What does withholding judgement look like? Because this is what I know from our culture, we say there is no mercy. Because if you show people mercy it means that you are weak. But Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful”.
Are You Merciful At Home?
What does mercy look like in your family? Maybe with your spouse who leaves their clothes all over the place (I’m not talking about anybody in particular in my family but let’s just say that would happen in my house!) What would mercy look like? What would withholding just judgement look like with my kids? What would compassion look like in my family?
What about with your friends? Because my dear friend, Jesus is saying that you and I as Jesus followers ought to be different, and people ought to see that we are a people who show mercy, who don’t deal with people according to what they deserve. But we go on the other side – we actually show them kindness and grace that they don’t deserve.
So what does mercy look like for you this morning? In the different scenarios that make up your life: at home, at work, with your friends, and with people around you. Do they see you as a merciful person?
The Merciful Will Be Shown Mercy
So look at the promise that is given there: “For they will be shown mercy”. So here’s a person who’s realised that, “Listen, God has shown me mercy, that God has treated me not as I deserve. I have said no to God, I’ve turned away from him”. What I do deserve, says Paul, is the wrath of God, because the penalty for sin is death. That’s what I deserve. But God has chosen to deal with me in a different way.
Here’s the gospel: God has shown me mercy. And I don’t just get mercy for yesterday, I don’t get mercy for yesterday’s sin, the Bible says I get mercy for my sins from yesterday, today and tomorrow.
My dear friends, there’s a wonderful verse that comes in the book of Lamentations. And this is God speaking to the people. He says, “Because of the Lord’s great mercy, we are not consumed. His mercies are new every day”. Perhaps that’s what you needed to hear this morning – that’s why you are here on this platform, listening to this message. God is saying to you, “I have mercy for you today, for this 24 hours, I want to deal with you with mercy. Withholding the judgement that you deserve.”
And maybe your response will be, “Lord, you don’t know what I did yesterday. You don’t know the thoughts of my mind. You don’t know the words that I speak. You don’t know the inclinations of my heart. I am a rebel and I am sinful and wicked!” And yet God says, “I have mercy for you.”
And Jesus comes along and says guys, when you get that, when you and I truly get it and understand it, when it grips our hearts, we begin to live out mercy. Because we know we’ve been shown mercy, and we know that we shall be shown mercy tomorrow, and the day after, because of the Lord’s great love for me.
So we become merciful people.
Compassion & Mercy Go Together
And last year, during hard lockdown, some of us – and many of you – showed compassion. I said mercy and compassion go together. When there was a cry to feed some of the hungry families within our community, you gave your money to support and to feed the hungry. You gave up your time to go and distribute food parcels. That was compassion C4.
The world needs to see the mercy of God over-spilling into how we do things every day.
And so, as Jesus followers, that must never stop. That must never end. The world needs to see the mercy of God over-spilling into how we do things every day. So, because we know something, that God has shown us mercy, we are a people that show mercy wherever it is that we are.
2. Blessed Are The Pure In Heart
You know the second thing that Jesus speaks about here that marks out the disciple – the Jesus follower – he says, “Blessed are the pure in heart”.
Now my dear friends this morning, can I just ask you, do you think you are pure in heart? Do you think you are pure in heart right now? You can put it in the comments section, I would really love to hear from you. Either yes or no. Do you think, right now, you are pure in heart?
Because I know that I don’t have a pure heart. I know myself, I live with myself! So what does the word pure in heart mean? What is Jesus speaking about?
What Does Pure In Heart Mean?
The word pure that Jesus uses here means to be clean – to have an undivided heart before God. To have undivided attention towards God. To have undivided motives and attitudes before God. And so a pure heart seeks to live for Jesus, a pure heart seeks to obey God; seeks to live a life that God has called us to live. It is being committed 100% to serving God and living for God wherever it is that we find ourselves.
Now last weekend was valentines. Perhaps you got a gift or perhaps you got a card, and on the card there was a big red heart, and it made you feel all warm-fuzzy and you felt loved and it was a great day. Great. Good for you.
In Jesus’s day, the heart meant the control centre of your life.
But the world has come to think when we speak about the heart we are speaking about emotions: how it makes me feel, how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel inside. That’s how you and I picture the heart. But that’s not what Jesus pictures when he talks about the heart.
In Jesus’s day, the heart meant the control centre of your life. The place where decisions are made. The place where the real you is found. The place of the will. And so Jesus says, at that very core of you, that needs to be pure, undivided, clean before God. And the only way my friends my heart will be clean is if God does something.
And we’ve already seen in the first four beatitudes that God does this internal work of washing me, an internal work of forgiving me and making me right with himself. And so, I need to continue desiring to be pure in his sight: pure in my motives, pure in my thoughts, words and deeds. Pure in my devotion and in my attention before God.
Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get irritated when you are speaking to someone and they are busy on their phone! It’s a bit irritating isn’t it? I try not to do it because I know how it irritates me. Anybody this morning? You don’t have that person’s undivided attention, do you? And so Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart”, who are undivided before God. Why? Because they will see God. That is the mark of a disciple, a Jesus follower.
And because you’re undivided, and your motives are true, it’s full of love and goodness, and you want to bless people, and you want to bless wherever it is where you are, it spills over into your everyday life.
It’s Counter Cultural To Trust People
But here’s the thing. We live in a city, we live in a culture that says, “Trust no one. Trust no one.”
So if somebody’s been good to you, you need to be suspicious! What do they want? If somebody gives you a call from nowhere, you need to be asking yourself, “Why? How is this person going to use me?” Because here’s the motto of our culture and our society: people are there to be used. People are there for you to use them on your way up and as you make your plans. People are there just to benefit you.
But Jesus says this – notice this: “Blessed are the pure of heart”, those who are undivided, whose motives before God are right, who are cleansed in their thoughts and their minds and their deeds. When they deal with people, they deal with people in a way that they want to be good. They want to bless, they have no ulterior motives, there is no agenda.
So you and I are a people who want to be good to other people.
Are You Being Pure of Heart?
So what would that look like in your team? What would that look like at your work place? Or what would that look like in your home or wherever it is that God has called you to spend your day? What does being pure in heart look like before God and before the people that you interact with?
You and I are people that are good and we need to be good to other people: who love people and have no agendas, who have no hidden motives. Who want to bless people. Why? Because we want them to see the God who is within us and what he has done for us.
You can’t say you are pure before God and then you treat people badly.
And so Jesus says these things need to spill over into your everyday life. You can’t say you are pure before God and then you treat people badly, or you speak to people badly. And this normally happens to people that we think are less than us. The person who cleans and brings you your coffee at work: you think they are less and so it gives you the right to speak to them any other way. You need to be different says Jesus.
You need to be different. You need to be good to them. You need to be a blessing to the. You need to have no agenda, no motives before them.
So that’s what he is calling us to do.
The Pure of Heart Will See God
And check out Matthew 5:8, there is a promise there: “For they will see God”. My dear friends, it’s an awesome promise isn’t it? Because the older I get the more I desire to see God in my life, the more that I desire for heaven. Because that’s where we will see him, as Paul says, face to face with unveiled eyes. The more, when we are there in the new heavens and the new earth, that’s where we will be like him and we will see him for we will be transformed.
We begin to see God as we are committed in our minds, in our speech, in our deeds, to being more like him.
But it’s not only for the life to come. We can begin to see God even now as he works in our lives, as we are good to others, as we have no motives, no agendas, as we treat people as people – as we bless people – we begin to see that the hand of God, the work of God is taking place in us. And we begin to say thanks to him and say, “Lord, thank you for transforming and changing me”.
We begin to see God as we are committed in our minds, in our speech, in our deeds, to being more like him.
My dear friends, are you pure in heart today? If you are listening to this, is there a pure heart that governs you? The place where decisions are made, is that pure – totally devoted to God and being good to others? The Bible says to be good to everybody, especially the household of believers. Is that you? Spilling out the goodness of God – the purity of heart – to other people around you?
3. Blessed Are The Peacemakers
The third thing that Jesus speaks about, he says there, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God”.
Jesus followers are called to produce something – you are a peacemaker; a peace producer.
Now listen, you are being called to produce something – as a Jesus follower, as a disciple – you are manufacturing and producing something. And Jesus says that here’s what you are busy producing: you are a peacemaker; a peace producer.
Peacemakers Still Experience Conflict
Now, being a peacemaker, my dear friends, just listen to this, does not mean there is no conflict.
Lots of us try and avoid conflict, we don’t like conflict. We see conflict, we run the opposite direction. Not so? We don’t like conflict and so we try and avoid it. Or we pretend, I like this about people, we pretend like there is no conflict – like nothing is wrong and we try and carry on and try and manage the situation as best as we can.
Being a peacemaker does not mean you avoid conflict.
And then there’s the other side of the coin – and I hope that not a lot of us are on this side of the coin. There are some people who just love drama! Who just love to create drama wherever they go. Who just love a little bit of spice, a little bit of controversy. They thrive in that. They look for conflict!
Listen, Jesus speaks to both people this morning and says, if you are the one who is avoiding conflict, or if you are the one who is creating conflict, listen, if you are a Jesus follower I have called you to be a peacemaker, which is different, which is different from the world.
Peacemakers Want To Reconcile
The world says, just run away! Or stand up and fight! But Jesus says, you are a peacemaker.
So what is this speaking about? What does it mean to be a peacemaker? It means you have two things on your mind. When you see a confrontation, when you see a situation, two things ought to ring true of you.
Don’t take a side and pour more fuel, or don’t pretend it’s not happening.
Number one, you want to reconcile. I stepped over somebody, I said something that I shouldn’t have, my first inclination is not to say, “Well they deserve it, well I just don’t care, I’m gonna carry on – they must deal with it!” My first thought should be, “I’ve blown it, I need to be reconciled. I need to reconcile with this person.”
Or maybe it’s your friends, it’s your families. Some of us come from families where there is a feud, there is fighting right now, there is tension. Your role in that place is to go and be a peacemaker. Don’t take a side and pour more fuel, or don’t pretend it’s not happening. But you are saying to people, “This is the situation we are facing as a family. How can we make this better? How can we reconcile?”
Peacemakers Try To Restore
So that’s the first thing a peacemaker does. The second thing a peacemaker does is to try and restore. Maybe you’ve got friends who are feuding and you are caught in the middle of it. You don’t know which way to go. This friend says this, they come and tell you this. The other friend tells you this… Your goal should be to restore. Restore back that relationship: to bring two people together.
What would that look like in your workplace? What would that look like with the people who are around you? Because you and I have been called to be different, to be a peacemaker.
Sometimes we need to go and confront a situation. Being a peacemaker means sometimes I need to go and confront a situation. I need to go and call a thing its name. I need to go to a person and say, “Hey Choma, this behaviour, this thought pattern, this way that you’ve chosen to live your life, is sinful. I am not judging you but I am calling it as the Bible calls it. It is sinful. Why? Because I want you to be reconciled to God. I want you to be restored as a child of God in your relationship with him.”
Peacemakers Will Be Called Sons of God
So why are we being called peacemaker? Just check out the promise that Jesus gives there in Matthew 5:9, “for they will be called the sons of God.”
And what was the mentality of a son in Jesus’s day? A son inherited their father’s estate. And so here, even if you are a woman, even if you are a girl, you are now a son in the eyes of God because you are also an heir, an inheritor, of God’s wealth and God’s property. So you are included in this.
You will be like your heavenly father.
So he says, “and they will be called the sons of God”. What does he mean? You will be like your heavenly father.
Whenever a baby is born, people love to play this game: guess who the baby looks like! And so we go, we visit, we take the presents, and then we play this game, guess who the baby looks like. It looks like his dad, it’s got it’s mother’s toes, it’s got it’s mother’s fingers, it’s got it’s dad’s ears, and for some of the kids at C4, they have their dad’s heads. Just a joke C4. But we play this game. Why? Because the child ought to look like their parents.
And so Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God”, they will be like their heavenly father. That is my aim. Wherever I am I’ve got to do two things, where there is a conflict, when people are in conflict, I want to bring reconciliation and I want to restore. Why? Because that’s what God did for me through Jesus Christ!
This Is How Jesus Behaves
That’s the beauty of the gospel! In Christ Jesus I’ve been reconciled to God. Remember, I was estranged, I was an enemy of God! And the Bible says the wrath of God remains on me because of the way that I chose to live my life without God. But Jesus on the cross, as he suffers and as he dies, and as he cries out, “It is finished”, he reconciles me to God. He makes me get the forgiveness and the grace and the mercy of God. It is now overflowing within me.
Jesus has also restored me. I am now not on the outside, I am a child of God. That is who I am: I’ve been brought close, I’ve been brought in. Isn’t that wonderful? Amen? What Jesus has done.
And so because I get it, because I understand it C4, I go out there and I do the same. It is radically different from the world.
How Does The World React To You?
But listen, many people will see you live your life of mercy, will see you show mercy and withholding judgement. Many people will see your life without motives, isn’t that awesome? People will come to you because you have no ulterior motives. You are pure before them, they love to be in your company.
Then people will see how you are peacemaker – trying to reconcile people and restore people and ultimately restore them to God their creator. Some people will love you for that. They want to be around you, you are a magnet for people because of the way that you live, which is radically different.
Sometimes We Will Face Persecution
But then there will be others who will not take too kindly to that. And so you will face what Jesus speaks about in Matthew 5:10-12. And here is the second thing, persecution.
So here is the second thing that Jesus speaks about: the world’s attitude towards you as a follower.
Blessed Are The Persecuted For Righteousness
So listen to what he says in Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” How is persecution a blessing? How is that a blessing for me? Here’s the one beatitude you and I will have a problem with. I have a problem with this! I don’t want persecution!
Here’s the one beatitude I have a problem with. I don’t want persecution!
Listen, I’m a forty-something-year-old middle class guy, living in Jozi. I don’t want persecution! I am not about to arouse any drama. I don’t need any stress in my life. And so what do I do? I try and avoid persecution as much as I can.
But the king of kings, the one that I say I am following, he says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness”. If you are gonna live the way that God has called you to live, if you are gonna live out the seven beatitudes as God is calling you to live, if you’re gonna be different in the world, you are gonna attract some unwelcome attention.
Listen to this. In 2 Timothy 3:12. As Paul writes to Timothy, a young pastor, he says to him, in fact to anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted.
Persecution is the badge that you and I get to wear as Jesus followers.
So what is Paul saying? What is Jesus saying? They are saying to you and I, Christian friend listen up, persecution is the badge, it is the uniform that you and I get to wear as Jesus followers. It is the badge that you and carry in this world as Jesus followers.
Some of Us Know Persecution Already
Some of us know persecution because of Jesus, or trying to live righteously. We have missed out on marriage. We have missed out on a potential husband, we have missed out on a potential wife, because they were not a believer – so we had to walk away because we wanted to obey Jesus where he says, we only marry believers.
We lost relationships because we could not have sex before marriage because the Bible says sex is only reserved for a holy covenant commitment called marriage. And so we were dumped; we were left behind. We know what it means to be persecuted.
We know what it is to be persecuted when the family call us to go and slaughter to the ancestors and we say “No”.
Some of us know what it is to be persecuted when the family call us to go and slaughter to the ancestors and we say, “No, we are trusting in Jesus and Jesus alone”. They came back and they said, “You are stopping and hindering the progress of this family because you won’t slaughter to the ancestors”. And so it brought us a lot of persecution.
Some of us know what it means not to be promoted at work because of our stance for Jesus. We won’t do things that will cut corners, we refuse to be involved in dodgy things and so we are passed up for promotion.
Some of us know what it is to be persecuted when our friends simply won’t invite us to stuff anymore. We get to hear about, “Oh yeah we met up…” and you were not there. Just not invited. Why? “Because you’re a Christian now. You’re boring! You’re a joy killer! So we don’t want anything to do with you.”
Great Is Their Reward In Heaven
Listen! There’s a promise for you. Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you”, approved of God are you, happy are you, when people insult you and they say all sorts of stuff, “when they persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you” – and some of us know this – “because of me”; because of Jesus.
I long to hear those words at the end of my life, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Matthew 5:12: “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
So I rejoice because that’s the same badge of persecution that Jesus wore, the king of kings. I rejoice because (verse 12) there is a reward for me in heaven. And I long to hear those words at the end of my life, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come into your father’s inheritance.”
Wouldn’t you want to hear that?
But for now, for the here and now, Jesus says you are approved of God if you are going to be persecuted and suffer because you want to live a life that pleases God and honours him.
I Don’t Think I Can Do This…
So my dear friends, maybe you are a Jesus follower this morning and these things we are talking about – these eight marks as we put them together – you see you are lacking. You are saying, “I can’t do this. I fail to do this. What do I do?”
Well you are in the right place where Jesus wants you to be. Because he wants you to realise that you can’t do it on your own. We can only do this as God works within us through the power of his Holy Spirit.
Jesus wants you to realise that you can’t do it on your own.
We can only do this as we continue to follow him, as we continue to sit at his feet and be taught and told of how to do it by him. We need God to do this, this work, in us so that we can be his followers.
We All Need To Ask God For Help
And maybe this morning you are not a Jesus follower and you are saying, “Listen, I kind of like what I am hearing here”. Or God is speaking to you saying, “Won’t you come? I have a life that I’ve set up for you. You can be pure in my eyes and you can be washed and sanctified. That is why Jesus died on the cross. Won’t you come and put your faith and trust in him?”
And for those of us who are Jesus followers, as we throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus, continue to do that! And pray this prayer that “Lord, I desire that these things will spill over, out of my life and into my everyday life. That people will see that I am a Jesus follower. Lord, work in me that I will be this disciple, as you’ve called me to be”.
So right now can I just ask you, every one of us, to just go on your social media and put this as your status: #differentontheoutside
Shall I pray for us.