The Beatitudes (Part 2)
Yesterday, we considered the first three beatitudes in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit...Blessed are those who mourn...Blessed are the meek..." (Matt. 5:3-5).

The fourth beatitude is found in Matthew 5:6 - "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Jesus declared that those who feel an intense desire for righteousness--that which is right or just--shall obtain it. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness is an attitude, a frame of mind, which realizes God's word is "righteousness" (Psa. 119:172). It is spiritual food that is needed to grow stronger (I Pet. 2:2; Matt. 4:4). What type of person doesn't get hungry or thirsty physically? One who is either sick or dead! The same is true spiritually. If a person doesn't have a strong desire to grow spiritually and feed on God's word daily, then he is either spiritually sick or dead! May those who desire righteousness do so as a deer pants for water (Psa. 42:1,2). If one yearns to be "filled" and to find true, lasting joy, he must put the kingdom of God first and seek "His righteousness" (Matt. 6:33).

Fifth, Jesus declared - "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt. 5:7). To be merciful is to withhold justified punishment; it is to relieve the misery of one who deserves to suffer. The merciful show pity to others, and much joy is found therein (cf. Acts 20:35). Humans typically have little difficulty showing mercy toward themselves but may find it challenging to be lenient toward others. However, disciples of the Lord must learn to love their neighbors as they love themselves--even when it comes to granting mercy (Matt. 22:39). If one fails to develop this attribute, God will not bestow mercy upon him (Matt. 6:14,15). The parable of the unforgiving servant also clearly communicates this thought (Matt. 18:21-35). Being merciful is a natural outward expression of an inner hungering after righteousness (cf. Matt. 7:12), and such will generally ensure that one's personal quest for righteousness will not turn into self-righteousness (e.g., Luke 18:9-14).

Sixth, Jesus stated - "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8). The "heart" is the center of one's thinking processes; it is the mind, Biblically speaking (Prov. 23:7). The "pure in heart" are those who are free from evil desires and purposes; their thoughts and speech are pure (Matt. 12:34). This is because they meditate on those things in which there is virtue (Phil. 4:8). Such persons experience great joy in seeing God. Of course, they do not see Him physically since He is a Spirit being (John 4:24), but they do see Him through faith in Christ. But, most of the Jews, having their hearts defiled with carnal hopes or self-righteous pride, failed to see God as He revealed Himself in the person of His Son (John 14:6-9; cf. Matt. 13:14-17). Not only do the "pure in heart" see God here, but they shall also see Him "as He is" hereafter (I John 3:2). It should be noted that one might appear to be pure by his actions, though his heart is far from such (Matt. 23:25-28).

Friends, do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Are you merciful to others? Are you pure in heart? Certainly there is room for improvement in these areas in all of us. Tomorrow we will conclude our study on this exceedingly rich passage of Scripture.