“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:6-9 (NRSV)
These four verses set up a rather tall order for Jesus followers. The heart of God is such that He wants us to want righteousness– all the things that are good and proper and fitting- so badly that it is a hunger in our souls. The desire to bring about God’s will here on earth is a noble aim, but are we really passionate about righteousness? Righteousness is not a thin goody-goody veneer or an attitude of holier-than-thou, but it is simply doing, being and living the right way. It is a beautiful attitude of wanting things God’s way. Of course in today’s world of moral relativism the definition of what is good and proper and fitting can be rather muddy. One wise pastor put the longing for righteousness this way: “Love God and seek Him, then do what you want.” Do we seek God and want to live His way so badly that He transforms our living from the inside out? He promises us that if we want His way, that He will make His way happen for us.
Mercy goes hand in hand with forgiveness. Forgiving isn’t forgetting, but it is choosing to let go of the hurt someone else imposed on us so that we can let God heal us from that hurt. Mercy is the beautiful attitude of knowing what the other party may deserve, but giving him or her better treatment anyway. Mercy implies empathy and having a kindred heart with one who has in some way offended us or fallen short. It’s just plain easier to be merciful to someone who understands what it is to be fallible and to fall short than it is with someone who either does not understand or who has a hard heart. Even so, mercy is at the very heart of God.
Purity can have many different connotations, but physical purity (i.e. chastity) is only one manifestation of purity. The beautiful attitude of purity means being authentic and being free of guile or pretense. Are our motives and actions pure? Do we show loyalty to God as well as to our family, friends and spouse? When we put away the lies and games and drama that this world seems to glorify, we can see the world around us more clearly and live more simply. We see God more clearly too, without all that clutter.
Peace seems to be an ever elusive, almost impossible goal in today’s world. The world teaches us to fight for what’s ours, to reach out and grab the gusto, and to get what we are entitled to (and maybe a little more than what we are entitled to) no matter what. Having a beautiful attitude of peacemaking means we think about God’s heart in relationships and in the situations we find ourselves in. Interactions with fellow humans will inevitably include conflict. We might not be able to eliminate conflict altogether, but can we resolve conflict in the most beneficial ways for everyone involved? How can we be the solution instead of contributing to the problem?