Matthew 5:3 - ... theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I have to confess, that the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5 were never my favorite. I would read "Blessed are the pure in heart," and immediately all of the impurities in my own heart would leap into my thoughts. Or I would read "Blessed are those who mourn" and think that I don't want to mourn! I don't want to be sad or grieve. I knew these were Jesus' words, but I really didn't want to read them. I found no pleasure in them, and I got on to the next chapter as quickly as I could.
But lately I begin to wonder if I was reading them all wrong. Have you ever noticed that, except for the first one and the last, all of them have a statement in the future tense? For example, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Clearly, the earth doesn't belong to the meek right now; this is a statement about the future. Or try, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." This is also clearly about the future, and you can try it yourself: just try to make peace between two enemies and see what they call you right now! It won't be anything as nice as "son of God!"
But it isn't just the second half of each statement that has a meaning set in the future. Take a look at the first halves. "Blessed are the meek ... the merciful ... the peacemakers ... those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." These are words that might describe me on my best days, but certainly they are not true 100 percent of the time. I am meek, but only sometimes. I am merciful, well, I try to be. I am a peacemaker -- when I'm not exhausted. And my hunger and thirst for righteousness is definitely part-time.
These are all things the Holy Spirit is growing us into. They are not things that any of us is all the time. Rather, this passage-as-a-whole is a picture of what the Spirit is making us into: people in the image of Jesus Christ. Someday, in fact, we will be pure of heart - peacemakers -- meek -- merciful. And when we are completed, we will have the gifts that God promises in the future tense: we will see God; we will be called "children of God"; we will inherit the earth; we will be shown mercy. All of this will happen because Jesus has saved us through His own life, death, and resurrection, and has given us His Holy Spirit to live in us and remake us in His image.
But how does this happen? Let's look at the two present-tense verses, the first and the last. "Blessed are the poor in spirit ... Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Right now, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. God's reign has already begun. They -- or I should say we -- are not waiting for their King to come. He has already come and is already ruling over their lives and all things. Jesus is our King, and our lives are in His hands. This is true right now. Thank God!
THE PRAYER: Lord, please keep making me into Your own image. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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