““Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:3-12 NKJV
Rags to riches
When I read the passage in Matthew five this morning, I could see a graduation, or degrees as there was as progression from poverty is spirit, to mourning, and on to purity. I likened it to the progression of one going from lost and reprobate to follower of Jesus. We come in with nothing, and progress to ruling and reigning with Christ. It is the ultimate rags to riches story.
When we are finally confronted with our sinful state, we begin to recognize that we are sinners, and hopeless. Often it is an addiction, or persistent habit that has so enslaved his that consequences have come into our lives. What we have desired for ourselves, as been affected, as circumstance has changed our plans.
We recognize that we are powerless on our own. We are poor in spirit, and coming to that recognition is a blessing as our heart is open to the Gospel. Confronted by the reality that we need forgiveness of those sins that have come to overwhelm our lives, we mourn, as we begin to see ourselves as God sees us: as sinners, missing the mark.
In acknowledging our powerlessness, we invite the Lord in to begin that work. We are meek, humbled, knowing that we need the grace of God. In that grace we inherit the kingdom of God. We truly receive God’s riches at Christ’s expense.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 NKJV
God meets us where we are. The Gospel message brings the promise of forgiveness, as Jesus went to the cross to pay for our sins. I will never forget the day I said yes to Jesus, and the relief I had in knowing that all that I had done was now forgiven, and I had been given a new heart.
We receive the Holy Spirit of God upon salvation, and He begins the process of renewal. Having been saved we have a new thirst for the righteousness of God. I remember when I began to read the bible. I could not get enough of it. In its pages, I could see a better life, a new way of living and thinking.
As I read, and was transformed from the inside out. I began to consider some of the conflicts that had affected my life in the past. I had so many people whom had harmed me. One of the greatest miracles is the softening of my stony heart. God had made me merciful, easy my desire for vengeance. To show mercy, is not giving people what they deserve.
God is merciful to sinners like us. In these perilous days, where being a Christian is becoming an evil thing, it is crucial that we continue to show that same mercy, for the Lord desires to save even those who are against Him. We are His ambassadors and must represent a merciful God.
As we mature in our faith, we begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are refined into purity, as the Lord uses circumstance to burn away the impurities, like the melting pot burns away the dross. We become more useful for the Lord.
Inevitably, as we become more like Jesus, we will encounter greater opposition, as our values are no longer consistent with the world.
Even in the heat of persecution we are in the position of peacemaker, as we bring the message of the Gospel. Sinners are enemies of God, and we are on mission to bring the peace. Let us go into the work that the Lord has set out for us with the love of Jesus.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”
I Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV
With the love of the Lord we can withstand the assaults of the evil one. We have a grand story to take into the world. A salvation story of reclamation and restoration in Jesus Christ. It truly is a rags to riches story, brought to us by the grace of God.