Tony Evans — The Blessings of the Kingdom
The beatitudes: These are the blessings that accrue to Kingdom people. Not church people - Kingdom people. Kingdom people are the men and women, boys and girls, who consciously, upfront, unapologetically flow under the rule of God. "Kingdom" means "rule or authority". Jesus preaches this sermon to espouse Kingdom living. He gives the beatitudes to tell you the blessings of those who adopt this Kingdom mentality, mindset, orientation, focus, and priority. Nine times in this segment, the word "blessed" is used, and it is a rejection of religious externalism.
When we get into these beatitudes, there will be a rejection. He does this a number of times throughout the sermon, and I would encourage you to read the whole sermon, chapter 5 through chapter 7. It is a rejection of religiosity, that is, worshipping God for show. You know, you're doing the religious thing. Jesus Christ rejects the religious thing. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven". He didn't say, "Blessed are the poor". He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit". He's not talking about money here, finances, stuff, or things. He's talking about a spiritual poverty. In other words, "Blessed are those who live their lives in conscious dependency on God". In other words, they are needy people for God. They're poor.
The Greek word "poor" was used of a beggar in Biblical times, a beggar, somebody who would be on the street corner because they were insufficient of themselves to take care of themselves, and so they would be out on the streets, begging. He says, "The blessed person, the blessed Kingdom person, is the person who recognizes their own inadequacy," and, in the words of an old school song, "ain't too proud to beg". They recognize their own insufficiency. They recognize, "I can't do this without you". They recognize spiritual impoverishment. They recognize their need for God, and they are not ashamed to declare spiritual bankruptcy.
The greatest sin of all is the sin of independence or self-sufficiency, that, "I don't need God". But he's not just talking about your ability to say it. He's saying, "Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, who feel this thing". It is a spiritual dependency, or, as Jesus said in John 15, "Without me, you can do nothing". In other words, "You cannot accomplish what I want you to accomplish. You can't be what I want you to be. You can't do what I want you to do without me," and, as long as you think you're rich in spirit, meaning, "I can pay for this myself. I can handle this myself. I can take care of me myself," then that makes you independent, and, if you are independent, you're proud.
If you become spiritually impoverished, meaning you are desperately dependent upon God if you're gonna make it, if you're going to be what you were created to be, do what you were created to do, become what you were created to become. He gives you a promise. "Theirs is the Kingdom of heaven". Remember, a Kingdom is rule. You get to see God's heavenly rule in your earthly life.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who are saddened by what saddens God". In other words what makes God sad makes you sad. Mourn. To mourn is to be sorrowful over something. Blessed are those who cry at stuff that shouldn't be laughed at because they have the heart of God, and the only thing that makes God mourn is sin and its consequences. That's what makes God mourn, when he sees people being independent from him, sin, and, when he sees the fallout of sin in the consequences. Jesus looked over Jerusalem, and he was saddened, and he was in a mournful state. He said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you like a hen who gathers her little ones, but you wouldn't let me".
When Jesus was at Martha and Mary's brother's tomb, Lazarus, the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11, "Jesus wept," when he saw the consequences of sin that produced death, when he had to cry with these two sisters who had lost their brother. What causes God to mourn we often laugh at. We don't mourn over the sin and consequences of others, and so we've lost the heart of God. Nothing shows the heart of God than what saddens God also saddens you. He says, "The blessing is for those who mourn," so one of our prayer requests is, "To God, give me your heart and your emotion". Nothing should sadden you more than when you have saddened God or when you see others who have saddened God. God mourns over our culture. He weeps over our culture because he knows everything that's wrong with our culture has come because our culture has departed from him.
He says, "The blessing is they shall be comforted". When you develop, I develop, we develop God's heart about sin and its consequences, he comforts us. The word "comfort" is used of one who comes alongside to help. It's the word used of the Holy Spirit, who comes alongside to encourage us, strengthen us, enable us as we deal with the pain of what we're going through. "Blessed are the gentle or the meek. They shall inherit the earth". Meekness in the Bible does not mean weakness. Meekness was used of breaking a horse, breaking a horse. You've got this stallion that's wild. It's bucking. It's trying to knock the rider off because it doesn't want anybody on its back, so it's bucking. The cowboy gets on it, and the horse bucks, bucks. "Get off me. Leave me alone. Yeah. If you don't get off, I'm gonna shake you off," throws the cowboy off.
What does the cowboy do? Get right back on. It's trying to, watch this, break the horse. It's what they call it, breaking the horse. What is he breaking the horse of? He's breaking the horse of his will 'cause the horse was saying, "Get off of me". He's breaking the horse of what? He's not breaking of horse of its strength. He's not breaking the horse of its power. He's not breaking the horse of its speedy ability to run. He's breaking the horse of its will so that, now, the horse does what the rider calls for... Whoa... Giddy up. In other words, the horse now comes under the direction of the rider 'cause it's been broken. That's the Greek word for "meek".
Meek means to be broken of your self-will. "The meek shall inherit the earth," okay? To inherit something means something has been willed to you, okay? He's not talking about heaven. He says, "You will inherit the earth". Let's put it another way. "You shall receive your allotted portion," for those who will allow God to break them, whatever is yours, you get 'cause it's in the will. You have an inheritance. Many will live their lives never getting what God has prescribed for them to have because they were never meek enough, broken enough, to submit to him, and you don't get your allotted portion.
Verse 6, "Blessed are those who hunger, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied". He now wants to discuss the blessing of having the right spiritual appetite, the right spiritual appetite, because far too many of God's children are malnourished not because they're not eating. They're just not eating the right stuff, so the question is hungry for what? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, that is, who have an insatiable appetite for what pleases God. Why? Here. Let me tell you a secret. Your soul, my soul, our souls are starving for what pleases God. If you are saved, you have a hungry soul.
David said, Psalm 42, "As the deer pants after the water brook, so pants my soul after thee, oh, God". You have a hungry soul if you're saved, and that hungry soul wants to be fed with righteousness. There will be some things about righteousness you don't like. There'll be some things you don't want to eat, but the question is do you want to be healthy? He says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness".
Let me tell you about hungry folk. You go to a restaurant, and they give you a menu, right? They give you a menu. The menu is a written documentation of what they have to offer. Sometimes, you can salivate just by reading the menu. You're reading the menu. You're going... I mean, it just looks good. "Ooh. That looks good. That looks good," so you can read it and feel good about it just by reading it, but not only do they give you a written menu. They have somebody there to proclaim the menu, to teach you the menu. It's a waiter or waitress, and they are menu expositors. They do an exposition of the menu. They say, "Well, this is this. This is this. This is this," and they offer you a Q and A session. "Do you have any questions"?
So, they will proclaim the menu to you. Now, after you have read the menu and after they've proclaimed the menu, and you do not then ask for your coat to leave because you didn't come there to read about it or to hear somebody else tell you how good it is. You came there for your personal experience with it, and until you've experienced the meal, you're not satisfied that you read about it or that somebody talked about it until it has entered into your tummy. See, the reason why a Sunday meal isn't enough is 'cause you come with a menu. It's a thick menu. It's called a Bible. It's got all kind of recipes in it. Then you got somebody who will teach you about the menu, but it's not over yet 'cause God wants you to taste and see that the Lord is good. He wants you to taste this thing. He wants you to meditate on this thing so that it just doesn't become something you heard in your ears. It becomes something that you start to digest in your soul so it can take root and flow all week long. He says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness," and then he gives the blessing, "for they shall be satisfied".
Guess what God offers you? When you passionately pursue him and his Kingdom through that which pleases him, he says, "I will remove your discontent," but you've gotta be hungry and thirsty after what he's cooking. Hunger and thirst after righteousness, and he removes the discontent. The more we hunger for righteousness, the more satisfied we become. He says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy". Mercy is not giving you what you do deserve, not giving you what you do deserve. To express mercy is to seek to remove the misery that someone is going through, even if they deserve it. Mercy is not just feeling sorry. Mercy is a tangible act of removing the misery. He says, "There's a blessing for those who show mercy," 'cause you can bet your bottom dollar there is coming a day in your life when you're gonna need mercy, when you're gonna want God not to give you all that you deserve.
Yeah, there's coming a time. I don't know whether it's already been, it is, or it will be, but there will become a time when you're gonna want God to, "Hold back. Don't give me what I deserve". You may be good now, but there is coming a day when you're gonna want mercy dispensed to you. He says, "Blessed are those who show mercy, for they will receive mercy". On the day you need it, God's gonna check your record to see whether you gave it. This is one of the great blessings, that you can call on God for the mercy that you showed somebody else in their day of misery when you have your day of misery, when you are needing it.
He goes on, and he says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God". The word "pure" means "unmixed, undivided, no defect". It has to do with being authentic on the inside, being for real on the inside. Now, you know you. You know you better than anyone knows you, but you don't even know you perfectly, but, but all of us knows what it is from time to time to be plastic, you know? Pure in heart means to be authentic, and, in order to be authentic, you have to first of all be honest with God. You're respectful, but you are clearly honest, raw with God, no double-mindedness. Jesus told us, told the Pharisees in Matthew 23, he said, "Clean the inside of the cup before you clean the outside".
See, here's the problem. Many of us want to change what we're doing outside when we haven't dealt honestly with what goes on inside. In order to have a pure heart, you have to be authentic with God. You have to come clear with God. You have to be honest with God about the good and the bad and the ugly. The pure in heart, being authentic. He says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God". Are you tired of just talking about God and never seeing him? "They shall see God". You'll see him operating, moving. He won't just be a concept to you anymore, a thought, an idea, a perspective, a philosophy, a religious ornament. You're gonna see his reality moving, rolling, tweaking, twisting, turning in your life. God will become real. You'll see him. You'll see him. The unseen God, you will see, and you will see him for yourself. You won't need somebody else's testimony 'cause, if you come real with him in the heart, you'll see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God". Peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Peacemakers. Peace is harmony. It is the resolving of conflicts with the truth by which sin is exposed and addressed and right relationships established, the peacemakers. Sometimes, we want to keep peace. Jesus said you've gotta make peace, and you make peace by identifying the truth, by exposing the sin, addressing the sin, and then constructing a bridge between the parties that were at odds. That's what you do. Whether it's a marriage or whether it's two Christians or two groups of Christians, he said you've gotta make peace. You don't just keep peace. We keep peace by ignoring it. He says you make peace by addressing it.
"Blessed are the peacemakers," and he says, "Peacemakers shall be called the sons of God". Why will you be called the son of God? Because you look like your daddy. He got the same DNA 'cause the Bible says, "God sent Jesus to make peace and to bring sinful men to a holy God". Jesus is the emulsifier 'cause a perfect God and sinful men can't mix, so what Jesus did was he reached up and grabbed God. He reached down and grabbed man so that the two could get connected again. That's what. He is our, he is our mediator. He is our emulsifier.
Let me tell you something else about a son of God. A son gains access 'cause you're dealing with Daddy. You're dealing with Daddy. Let me close. He says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted". "Treated in an evil manner," that's what it means. Why are you being treated in an evil manner? Because you're showing these qualities. You're not talking about treated in an evil manner because you evil. He's talking about treated in an evil manner because you're showing these characteristics, these Kingdom characteristics, and some folk won't like you. And he says, "And you're in the company of a great class of people, those who've gone before you," and he pronounces a double blessing on those who are willing to be rejected by men in order to be accepted by God. So, don't take my word for it. Try it. Try becoming a Kingdom Christian, and watch the blessings come your way. Don't take my word for it. Don't buy it because I said it. Go read it for yourself, and begin to implement it, and you tell me whether you're experiencing God at a whole 'nother level.
A man one day was dying of thirst, and he was in this desert place with no water. He couldn't make it much further when he saw a little shack. He walked into the little shack, and there was a well with a little jar of water and a sign. The sign said, "Use this water not to drink but to prime the pump because, then, you'll have ongoing water". He says, "I don't know whether I can take this risk. I'm dying here. If I pour this water in, and this pump doesn't prime, I'm gonna die. At least if I drink the water, I can live for a while and hope tomorrow will be a better day". So, he had to make the decision whether to take the risk on the well or just be satisfied with the jar. He took the risk, poured the water in the well, in the pump, primed the pump. Up gushed enough water to last him for as long as he needed it. A lot of you are gonna take this sermon and use it like a jar. You're gonna drink it up, and, by tomorrow or Tuesday, it'll be gone, but, if you let it prime the pump of the well of the Kingdom of God, you'll find it flowing for life ongoing.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus opens it up by offering to his followers the blessings, that is, the benefits of the Kingdom. He calls them blessings or the beatitudes we know them as. These blessings have to do with the favor that God dispenses when we are Kingdom people doing Kingdom work the King's way. These blessings, a blessing is a, the experience, the enjoyment, and the extension of God's favor in your life and through your life to others. By the way, a blessing is not just what you get. It's what God can give through you because you got it, and he gives a number of blessings that come when we are aligned with the Kingdom aptitude and attitude of the King.
Whether it's mercy or whether it's the pursuit of righteousness or whether it's the pursuit of purity or even when it's the struggle with persecution, when we function in a Kingdom way, he says that will accrue benefits from the King to this Christian who is Kingdom-oriented, so it is absolutely critical, if you want to experience all the favor of the Kingdom and all the benefits of the King, then you must be willing to be a Kingdom Christian. When these blessings come your way, these are not blessings only for eternity. These are blessings that God offers his followers, his disciples in history as well, so you can affect how much you get from God and how it flows to your life, in your life, and through your life by how you align with the King, who offers these blessings.
The backdrop to this whole concept is a little island that was self-contained. The beautiful thing about God's Kingdom blessings is that they are built in, so you don't have to, like, go get them. They're already set up to flow like lava coming out of a mountain. It's already built in when the conditions are right, so we establish the conditions for the flow of God's goodness in our lives, so don't lose out on the blessings because you refuse to honor the blessedness of our King.