Blessed Are The Hungry And Thirsty (Mat. 5:6)
For several weeks we have been considering the attitude that we are to have in worship (John 4::23-24). To analyze and adjust our attitudes we have been examining the beatitudes of the Bible. This week we will consider Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
The Greek word translated as hunger means to crave ardently and the Greek word translated as thirst means to thirst painfully. As you know, hunger and thirst are some of the strongest desires that we have as human beings. No doubt, that is why Jesus used them here. Perhaps, we have all heard someone say, “I am starving to death” or “I am dying of thirst.” In all likelihood, they weren’t. They were simply using hyperbole. They were emphasizing how hungry or thirsty they were. Jesus was using these very strong drives that dwell within us to describe the desire that should be in us for spiritual things. Jesus was not saying that physical and spiritual desires are equal. They aren’t. We should crave the spiritual far more than the physical (Job 23:12; Mt. 6:33; John 6:27; Col. 3:1-2). Sadly, many of us don’t. We stuff our bodies and starve our souls. If this is the case, then our appetites and attitudes need adjustment. We should come to worship hungry and leave worship full.
Two men come to mind when I think of hungering and thirsting for righteousness - Job and David. In the first chapter of Job, we find the patriarch offering sacrifices for his children (Job 1:4-5). Nothing all that surprising there. That’s what patriarchs did. However, as we continue to probe the context, we are impressed. Job was not offering sacrifices for the known sins of his sons and daughters. He was offering sacrifices for what his children MAY have done in their HEARTS. Furthermore, we are told that he did this continuously. These actions reveal a heart that is hungering and thirsting for God. Later in the book we read, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). I believe that this is a living definition of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Now, let’s consider David. Two times in the Psalms David spoke of thirsting for God. He compared his thirst to that of a deer running from the hunter and to that of a dry land where no water is. He wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? ….O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. (Psalms 42:1-2; 63:1-2).
Both of these images reveal David’s deep and abiding desire for God.
As we get ready to worship this week, let’s make sure that we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. What a shame it would be if we are so full of the things of the world that we have no room for God to give us far better things in worship!
Blessed Are The Merciful (Mat. 5:7)
For several weeks we have been considering the attitude that we are to have in worship (John 4::23-24). To analyze and adjust our attitudes we have been examining the beatitudes of the Bible. This week we will consider Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.”
God is a holy God and requires holiness of those who approach Him. He is gentle and expects gentleness. He is peaceful and expects us to be at peace with our fellow man. He is merciful and demands the same. Since mercy is the attribute that we are considering this week, let’s remind ourselves of this attribute of God. Consider how God described Himself to Moses on the mount: “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7). It is always enlightening to hear how a person introduces themselves. They usually stress attributes that they value or hold in high esteem. They reveal by what they say how they want others to see them or to know them. Obviously, our assessments of ourselves can be and often are flawed as humans. However, God’s assessment of Himself is as perfect as He is. The very first attribute that God mentioned to Moses about Himself was mercy. Clearly, God values mercy in Himself and in those who stand before Him. Jesus declared, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).
In addition to being like the God that we worship, we must be merciful to obtain mercy. Solomon noted, “The merciful man does good for his own soul, But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh” (Proverbs 11:17). In like manner, James wrote, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). The truthfulness of these verses is clearly driven home in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Mat. 18:23-35). The man in the parable lost the great mercy that he had been shown because of the small mercy that he refused to show his fellow man. We must not make the same mistake. The best of us comes before God in desperate need of mercy. To receive it, we must show it. We should come before God with the attitude of the publican who smote his chest and begged for mercy (Lk. 18:9-14). With such attitudes God is well pleased.
As we get ready to worship this week, let’s remember that God is a merciful God and that He desires mercy in those who come before Him. If we come before without having shown mercy, then we will leave as empty as we came.
Blessed are the Meek (Mat. 5:5)
For a couple of weeks we have been considering the attitude that we are to have in worship (John 4::23-24). To analyze and adjust our attitudes we have been examining the beatitudes of the Bible. This week we will consider Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. “
Two men come to mind when we think of meekness - Moses and Christ. Moses was described in the book of Numbers as meek above all men on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). I believe that you will agree that this is quite a description. Eventually, One would arise like unto Moses (Deut. 18:15). We know from the New Testament that the One like unto Moses was Jesus (Acts 3:19-26). Of course, one of the ways that Jesus would be like Moses would be in His meekness. As you recall, Jesus described Himself as “meek and lowly in heart.” We read, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus invited men to come to Him for rest. He invited them to take His yoke upon them and to learn of Him. To take someone’s yoke upon you was a Jewish idiom that meant to take someone as your teacher. Jesus was inviting men to take Him as their teacher and to learn from Him . Unlike the yoke of the scribes and Pharisees which was hard to wear and heavy to bear, Jesus’ yoke was easy and His burden was light (Matthew 23:4). Jesus puts no unnecessary burden upon His students. He gives no busywork or meaningless assignments. What He asks is not grievous or burdensome, but reasonable (1 John 5:2-3; Rom. 12:1). Perhaps, you are thinking that this is all good, but what does it have to do with the attitude that we are to have in worship. It has everything to do with it. Every Sunday, we come to Jesus to learn from Him and to worship Him. Meekness is essential to both of these endeavors. Meekness is required in both teachers and students (2 Tim. 2:24-26; 1 Pet. 3:15). As a teacher, Jesus is meek and lowly. As students, we must be the same. James wrote, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). An attitude of meekness is essential to receiving the word of Christ. Without meekness, we will leave worship no better than we came.
As we get ready to worship this week, let’s make sure that we have an attitude of meekness. Let’s make sure that we are ready to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn.
Blessed Are Those That Mourn (Mat. 5:4)
Over the next few weeks, we are going to consider the attitude that we are to have in worship. As you know, one of the requirements of true worship is that it be in spirit or with the right attitude (John 4::23-24). Each week, we will analyze and adjust our attitudes by examining one of the beatitudes of the Bible. This week we will look at Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”
Nine different Greek words are used in the New Testament to speak of the sorrow that can afflict a man’s soul. The word that is used here by the Lord is the strongest of them all. It refers to a deep, intense, and heartfelt grief. The word was usually reserved for the grief that a person felt at the death of a loved one. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, used this word to describe Jacob’s grief when he was handed Joseph’s bloody coat and he believed that his son had been torn to pieces by a wild beast. We read, “Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him” (Genesis 37:34-35). I believe that you will agree that this was a strong and severe grief.
Now that we understand the depth of the word, we need to understand the specific application that Jesus was making. It seems clear that Jesus was speaking of spiritual grief and not physical grief. He was using the strongest word available to speak of mourning over sin. Just as God is with us in our physical grief (2 Cor. 1:3-4; John 11:35), He is with us when we mourn over spiritual things. He is near those who have hearts broken over sin. David declared, “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalms 34:18). David knew that a heart broken over sin was the sacrifice that God most wanted. Again, we read, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalms 51:17). Those who truly mourn over sin are comforted by God. They are blessed and comforted in the knowledge that their sins have been removed and are remembered no more (2 Sam. 12:13; Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 9:26).
As we get ready to worship this week, let us mourn over sin as we would mourn over the death of a loved one. Let’s remember what our sin cost God (John 3:16). If we will come with broken hearts, we will leave with healed hearts. God will comfort us in the knowledge that our sins have been removed through the blood of His Son (Eph. 1:7).
Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit (Mat. 5:3)
As you know, one of the requirements of true worship is that it is in spirit or with the right attitude (John 4:23-24). For the next few weeks, we will analyze and adjust our attitudes by examining the beatitudes of the Bible.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with this beatitude. It seems logical for us to begin our study the same way. Although Jesus wasn’t specifically talking about worship, He was talking about the attitude that should be true of those in the kingdom in both service and worship.
The Greek term that is translated as poor in this passage was used to describe the beggar Lazarus who sought the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table (Lk. 16:19-21). Poor is from a verb that means to “shrink” or “cower.” It described the action of beggars at the time. A beggar would crouch in the presence of a potential benefactor, hold out one hand to receive a gift, and cover his face with the other hand. For sure, the beggar avoided making eye contact. It seems clear in this beatitude that Jesus was talking about spiritual poverty, and not physical poverty. There is nothing inherently better in being physically poor or inherently worse about being rich. Jesus was talking about being poor in spirit and not poor in silver. He was describing the man who knew his spiritual bankruptcy before God. No doubt, the Bible student is reminded of the Parable of the Pharisee and Publican. We read, “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14). The publican displayed the poverty of spirit upon which Jesus pronounced blessing. The Pharisee displayed the opposite attitude. If our worship is to be acceptable, then we must imitate the humble publican and not the haughty Pharisee.
As we get ready to worship this week, let’s check our attitude. Let’s make sure that we are poor in spirit. Then, and only then, will our worship be acceptable.