7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 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.
“Have it Your Way!” This Burger King slogan we all know so well is just one example of how, in our society today, we emphasize what we want. Whether it is our food, our preferences, or our schedules. With so much inward focus, we can easily forget about the people around us. Our journey to growth can center on what we want, on our terms, at our pace.
As we come to the second half of the Beatitudes, we find five statements which center on our life with others. In contrast to our natural instincts, Jesus shows us the pursuit of care and restoration of others is the pathway to human flourishing. In order for us to truly thrive, we must have a genuine heart for others. We show mercy by compassionately serving others, rather than condemning them. We keep a pure heart through rooting our identity in the Lord, rather than engaging in gossip and slander. We promote peace as we love others into wholeness, rather than competing with them. We embrace the narrow way of following Christ and doing what is right, which may appear foreign to the world around us.
If you’re anything like me, you may have initially read these statements as a difficult to-do list. But, there is a better way to engage these Beatitudes. These acts help us to enter into a deeper experience of blessedness. Through them, we find true flourishing. By God’s grace, we already have a new identity in Him. Following Him brings a new reality and we begin to see the world afresh. Jesus is bringing a new kingdom, which is others-focused, not in opposition to others. Through our actions, we can play a huge part in building people up and bringing restoration to others.
Today, pray for Jesus to shape you into a person who flourishes as you live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus. Where are you resisting His instruction to care for others? What action can you take today to compassionately serve others? To promote peace? To make a relationship right?
By Billy Berglund