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4) Matthew 5 - Beatitudes continued (Part 2)
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful.  What a contradiction of the dreams for the Jewish freedom fighters who
would offer little mercy to the enemy!

How this unmasked the hypocrisy of those who show mercy only to friends or family but are basically unsympathetic
to human needs beyond the limited circle of those who can easily reciprocate this mercy!  (Luke 10:25-37)

At least the self-righteous tend to show this fatal defect of being exceedingly critical of others who have not arrived
at their superior standard, so critical to the point of considering it as rendering service to God to show no mercy to
them!
But God condemned all unmercifulness, because it assumes a position of absolute righteousness and perfect
justice, a position which a sinner does not occupy.  An unmerciful sinner is just a hypocrite.  Unmercifulness shows
itself in partiality (Luke 6:32-37, James 2:1-13), selfish orthodoxy (James 2:14-17, 1 John 3:16-18) and harsh
judgement (Matthew 7:2).

Service most pleasing to God is not merely outward ritual, in which the unmerciful legalist may pride himself, but
God-like dealing with our weak, sinful fellow humans.

It should be no wonder that Jesus views deeds of true mercy to others as done (or not done) to Himself (Matthew
25:34-46, Proverbs 19:17).
How does mercy show itself?
    1) By gentleness with sinners (Hebrews 4:14-5:3, Galatians 6:1, Ephesians 5:32) or with those whose
        Christian convictions are different (Romans 14:1-15:7, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1) or         
         with those whose religious tenets are wrong (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
    2) By helpfulness to those who need help (Psalms 41:1-3, Psalms 37:21)
    3) By forgiveness (Proverbs 19:11, Genesis 50:17-21, Numbers 12:1-13, Matthew 25, Matthew 26,
        Luke 6:34-36 and 38, Luke 10:37, Luke 14:12-14, Acts 11:27-30, Matthew 18:15-35, Luke 17:3-4, Acts 7:60)

Mercy becomes only sentimental softness or careless indulgence when it ignores justice.  Justice and mercy are not
mutually exclusive (Matthew 23:23, Romans 3:23-26).  Christian mercy must justly condemn sin in order to save the
sinner.
For they shall obtain mercy from God and their fellows.  Showing mercy to others tends to awaken the same spirit in
them, stimulating them to be lenient.

"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry, but not be heard." (Proverbs 21:13)

The stunning truth of Christianity which makes it a unique religion is that, according to Jesus, God lets man
determine the rigor with which the standard is to be applied!  God will deal with us just as we would treat others
(Matthew 7:2, Matthew 6:12 and 14, Matthew 10:40-42, Matthew 18:35, Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Timothy 1:16-18,
2 Samuel 22:26, Psalms 112:4-6 and 9).

What a terrible prospect of merciless judgment faces him who has shown no mercy!  But to him who has been
merciful, even perfect justice bow to the mercy of God (James 2:13).
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart.  Whether the Jews caught the point of the beatitude may be questioned,
but a moment's reflection reveals that Jesus is attacking all purely external religion.

Ceremonial purity, secured by numerous washings, by avoiding contact with certain contaminating objects such as
dead bodies, and by abstinence from certain foods, does not qualify for fellowship with God.  Nor, anyone whose
HEART is contaminated!  (Proverbs 15:8, Proverbs 21:3, Proverbs 21:27, 1 Samuel 15:22, Psalms 51:16-17, Isaiah
1:11-20, Micah 6:7-8)

Jesus' challenges to His and any age is simply: "HOW very badly do you want to see God?"

We often have two motives behind each of our "good deeds": the one we want others to know and the real one by
which we profit from the deed.  And, try as we might, we cannot quite succeed in living on that level where all our
actions exactly represent our true desires.  "Happy is the man whose heart has been cleansed!"  (Psalms 51, John
15:3, 1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Timothy 3:9, 2 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:22, Titus 1:15, James 1:27, Hebrews 2:17-18,
Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 9:14)
How does purity of heart manifest itself?
    1) Chastity of a mind so clean that lust cannot live (Matthew 5:28).
    2) Basic honesty so well-known that oaths are unnecessary (Matthew 5:33-37) and worship and service
        becomes real (Matthew 6:1-18).
    3) Intelligent love so perfect that hate, anger, contempt (Matthew 5:22 and following), personal retaliation
        (Matthew 5:39-42) and partiality (Matthew 5:44-48) have no place in the pure heart.
    4) Singleness of mind so completely confident of God's provision that worry and materialism are impossible
        (James 4:5).
    5) In is that singleness of mind and purpose that owns only one Master (Matthew 6:22-24).

For they shall see God. (Hebrews 12:14, 1 John 3:2-3, Revelation 22:4, Psalms 51:7-11)  Faith and a regenerated
heart help man to see God (Ephesians 1:17 and following, Romans 5:1 and following, 2 Corinthians 3:12, 2
Corinthians 4:6).  We see only what we are able to see.
Any who saw Jesus should have seen God (John 10:30, John 14:9).  Why did the rest fail to see Him?  Because
they already had their minds made up about what God had to be, say and do.  So when God came walking among
them in the person of Jesus, they frankly did not recognize Him.

What Jesus declares rings true psychologically: those who have not spent the whole of their life energies seeking
God's approval, would not be happy to see Him anyhow.  Even admission into the presence of our glorious and holy
God would be hellish torment to those whose hearts are contaminated.  Therefore, God, in banishing the wicked
from His presence forever, is but mercifully conceding them their last wish!
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