Filled with Righteousness and Mercy
In our series on the Sermon on the Mount, we are learning that the beatitudes reveal a spiritual progression of relentless logic. Each step leads to the next and presupposes the one that has gone before. To begin with, we are to be ‘poor in spirit’, acknowledging our complete and utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. Next, we are to ‘mourn’ over the cause of it, our sins, yes, and our sin too – the corruption of our fallen nature, and the reign of sin and death in the world. Thirdly, we are to be ‘meek’, humble and gentle towards others, allowing our spiritual poverty (admitted and bewailed) to condition our behavior to them as well as to God.
Which brings us to the fourth beatitude (where our study begins this week): we are to ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness’. For what is the use of confessing and lamenting our sin, of acknowledging the truth about ourselves to both God and men, if we leave it there? Confession of sin must lead to hunger for righteousness. It is not that we want to be a little bit better, still less that we think of righteousness as an optional luxury to add to our other graces; rather, we hunger and thirst for it. We cannot get along without righteousness; it is as important to us as food and drink.
The norms of the Kingdom require that men and women be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. This is so basic to Christian living that Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says:
“I do not know of a better test that anyone can apply to himself or herself in this whole matter of the Christian profession than a verse like this. If this verse to you is one of the most blessed statements of the whole of Scripture, you can be quite certain you are a Christian; if it is not, then you had better examine the foundations again.”
What is this righteousness we must thus pursue? This coming Lord’s Day we will both ask and answer this question. Moreover, we will also revel in the result, that God will fill this person’s hunger and thirst.
The next beatitude in our study this week (‘Blessed are the merciful’) leads us into what many consider as the second half of the beatitudes (the last four). Generally speaking, in the second half of the beatitudes, we seem to turn even more from our attitude to God to our attitude to our fellow human beings.
The first of the ‘active’ beatitudes concerns the ‘merciful.’ But what is mercy? While we will answer this more fully Sunday, the best illustration of the meaning of mercy is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). At the end of the parable Jesus asks which of the three passers-by (a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan) proved to be a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers. An expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him’ (Lk. 10:37). The Samaritan illustrated the meaning of mercy.
Jesus then tells us that the merciful will receive mercy, indicating that again this beatitude is a touchstone and hallmark of a true conversion to Christ. Without mercy, we are not Christ’s, and he shall say to us on the last day, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers’ (7:23). How is it that so many claim to be Christians, yet show so little mercy? Why are we so self-seeking, choosing a lifestyle of convenience rather than a self-sacrificing lifestyle of showing mercy? Is it because we have felt of our own need of mercy far too little? Is it because we have only a superficial understanding of the riches of God’s kindness to us? Jesus teaches us that those who have been forgiven much, love much. Those who know they have received mercy, show mercy. And the merciful are greatly blessed because they will receive mercy from God himself.
Join us this Sunday as we talk about these questions of eternal import. Together we will learn about the righteousness that we are to pursue and the mercy we are to show. I encourage you to pray for our service and invite someone to come along with you. I eagerly anticipate worshiping the living God with you this Lord’s Day.
Our LIVE will begin at 10:00AM. CLICK HERE.
Follow along with the worship guide: RPC-2-20-2022-Guide.pdf
Sunday February 13 Summary Notes