(Read Matthew 5:1-12, NIV.)
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Spiritual Poverty (3).
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Mourning (4).
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Meekness (5).
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Righteous Ambition (6).
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Mercy (7).
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Purity (8).
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Peace (9).
Our attitude is to struggle. When is peace absent? When we are in conflict – with God, others, and/or self. What causes conflict? When we struggle – for things, for understanding, for advantage. Whether by our choice or others, struggles come and peace goes.
The Jesus beatitude is peace. Peace comes with resolution of struggles, the solution of problems, the restoration of relationships. This is the kind of rest that comes with God’s approval; the spirit, mind, and heart are at ease because all has been done that can be done has been done.
The adjustment is the hard work of resolution. Generally speaking, we have one of three attitudes toward peace (this has been derived from Ken Sande’s book Peace Makers):
– A “Peace-breaker” desires to win the struggle at all costs. There is NO PEACE with them.
– A “Peace-faker” = desires to end the struggle at all costs. There is FALSE PEACE with them. This is the most common approach with lots of variations.
– A “Peace-maker” = desires to resolve the struggle in the most godly way and at the lowest cost to the relationships involved. There is TRUE PEACE with them.
The reward is divine family identity. The word here is SONS, as in “heirs.” This is a more personal choice of words than “child,” which indicates a member of the family, but is less personal. The reward is to be made a member of the family – to share in the family name and reputation – to have a personal stake in promises of God.
Part of being a SON in this sense is to share a family identity. As Christians, our family identity is to be known as peace-makers. Paul explained this in 2 Corinthians 5:18 = ALL THIS IS FROM GOD, WHO RECONCILED US TO HIMSELF THROUGH CHRIST AND GAVE US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: THAT GOD WAS RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF IN CHRIST, NOT COUNTING MEN’S SINS AGAINST THEM. AND HE HAS COMMITTED TO US THE MESSAGE OF RECONCILIATION.
Jesus’ promise is repeated in James 3:18 = PEACEMAKERS WHO SOW IN PEACE RAISE A HARVEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment – Overcoming Persecution (10).
Our attitude is to escape trials. It is human nature to want to avoid hurt, sorrow, or suffering. (That is good if it keeps us from doing stupid things, but bad if it keeps us from doing the right thing.) Also, this can never be the focus of our lives. Having faith means that we will have to trust God and occasionally take risks and suffer persecution.
The Jesus beatitude is perseverance. God allows trials in our lives in order to strengthen our faith by making it more pure. 1 Peter 1:6-7 provides us an explanation of this dynamic of faith:= IN THIS YOU GREATLY REJOICE, THOUGH NOW FOR A LITTLE WHILE HOU MAY HAVE HAD TO SUFFER GRIEF IN ALL KINDS OF TRIALS. THESE HAVE COME SO THAT YOUR FAITH – OF GREATER WORTH THAN GOLD, WHICH PERISHES EVEN THOUGH REFINED BY FIRE – MAY BE PROVED GENUINE AND MAY RESULT IN PRAISE, GLORY AND HONOR WHEN JESUS CHRIST IS REVEALED. Just as conflict avoidance is not to be mistaken for peace, so must the avoidance of suffering not be mistaken for overcoming.
The adjustment is the experience of overcoming. The experience of suffering is the only way to really build our spiritual strength and commitment to the will of God, expressed here in the word RIGHTEOUSNESS, which we defined last week in developing v. 6: we are to HUNGER AND THIRST for RIGHTEOUSNESS, so it is worth it to us to suffer for this reason. The overcomer is the person who seeks God’s will in spite of what they want or what others want.
The reward is the kingdom of heaven. Whatever happens in this life, no matter what form persecution takes or the result it brings, the more important thing is realizing this promise of being part of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. As we have often seen with these promises, it is something we experience in this life and in the life to come. Our citizenship in God’s kingdom affects how we live now and how where we’re headed after we die.
- High Altitude Attitude Adjustment–Overcoming Insults (11-12).
Our attitude is sinful speech. It’s easy to divide, to stress differences, to be guilty of prejudice. This is why it happens so often. Whether this comes from the sinful nature or our human nature, it is an offense against God. Sinful speech is the most common kind of sin, the most difficult to guard against, and very destructive of relationships. This fact is vividly taught in James 3:6: THE TONGUE ALSO IS A FIRE, A WORLD OF EVIL AMONG THE PARTS OF THE BODY. IT CORRUPTS THE WHOLE PERSON, SETS THE WHOLE COURSE OF HIS LIFE ON FIRE, AND IS ITSELF SET ON FIRE BY HELL.
The Jesus beatitude is to smile. In instances where our faith makes us the target of sins of the tongue, Jesus urges us to smile; well, it literally reads, REJOICE AND BE GLAD. (The adjustment described below is the reason for rejoicing.) This may sound over-simplistic or even frivolous, but there is no better way to disarm someone looking for a fight than to smile at them. Hugh Martin wrote, “There are Christians who go about asking for trouble and get disliked not because of their Christianity but for their lack of it.” (The Beatitudes, Harper & Brothers, 1953, p. 79.)
The adjustment is seeing the big picture. In the moment, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and lose our perspective. We can be fooled into forgetting there’s more at work and more at stake in the situation. Jesus’ advice in these situations is two-fold:
– Remember your reward is in heaven. Don’t get hung up on the earthly bits.
– Remember your legacy of faith; IN THE SAME WAY THEY PERSECUTED THE PROPHETS WHO WERE BEFORE YOU.
As we observed with verse 9, faith makes us part of a family. As part of a family, we have a family history. Part of that history is the prophets; people who spoke for God and were persecuted for the messages they brought – sometimes horribly. Of course, believers have been persecuted throughout all times and in all places; more than just the PROPHETS have suffered for their faith. But they were ready examples.
The reward is great in heaven. The objective of life is not the worldly stuff we accumulate, even intangible things like a “legacy.” The objective of this life is the things of eternal significance that we do. Those are the things that earn us a GREAT REWARD in HEAVEN! (We don’t earn a place in heaven; that’s God’s grace. But we do earn rewards in heaven.)