185. For What Sort Of People Ought We To Vote? The Characteristics Seen In The Beatitudes In Matthew 5. (Part 2 of 2)

In the previous article we looked at the first four of the Beatitudes especially as they related to one’s relationship to God. Now in this article we look at the other four Beatitudes which direct us to the sorts of attitudes we should have to our fellow humans. They represent not only Christian values but also the characteristics and values which the God of this universe desires of all His creatures. They are found in Matthew 5:7-12. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.(8) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (9)  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (10)  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11)  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR FELLOW HUMANS

1).    Merciful. Verse 7. “Blessed are the  merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” The word “merciful” is used only twice, once here of believers and the other of Jesus in Hebrews 2:17 where He is described as being “a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Mercy can be described as being the concerned, kind attitude adopted to those in need. Jesus showed it when He offered Himself to die on the cross for our sins. When we have experienced the mercy and love of God towards us in Christ, our hearts will be moved to be merciful and loving towards others.

We are not to see mercy as an almost impossible goal to aim at. Rather it is the inevitable expression of a heart that is in a close relationship to God.  As Romans 12 puts it, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice to God which is your spiritual worship.”  It’s from that experience of God’s grace and mercy that Paul can say a few verses later, “He who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”  As we receive the mercy of God, we are motivated and empowered to show it to others. The more we express it to others in forgiveness, love and concern, the more we are likely reap it back.

God will always be merciful to those who have called on His name and who have received His Son. But as we have seen in today’s world they may not always receive mercy from those around them. Consider the slaughter of Christians throughout the world, especially in parts of Africa and the Middle East. It is a great reminder to us that only those touched by the grace of God and have become recipients of God’s mercy, are really capable of extending mercy to others.

The candidates for whom we vote in the coming elections should be characterised by genuine mercy and not by dangerous unrealistic “sympathy”.

2).  Purity. Verse 8. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (“Pure” is from katharós which has many shades of meaning. It can mean being clean and undefiled by separation from evil. It can mean utter sincerity so that one is inwardly what one is outwardly. In modern day computer terms believers should be WYSIWYG people where the letters in the acrostic stand for “What You See Is What You Get.” What you see on the screen should be the same as what you typed on the keyboard. It is the “real thing!” One of the woes pronounced by Jesus was on those who were not what they appeared to be outwardly, Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Again purity in heart is not some impossible ideal. It is the result of abiding in Christ. Christ expresses His own life through us as we abide in Him.  We come to see (spiritually) what God is like as we abide in Jesus, and we can be transformed more and more into His likeness through faith in Him (2 Corinthians 3:18.)  We need to vote for someone who is genuine, the real article, a real WYSIWYG type of person.

In these days there is another major area where purity is needed. It is purity in marriage. Not only would we want our candidates to be not guilty of adultery, but we would also want them to be not guilty of adulterating the concept of marriage itself. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews gave a stark warning in Hebrews 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” We need to realise afresh that this is God’s world and that marriage between a man and a woman has always been His idea. To suggest that those in same-sex relationships should be recognised as “married” does not honour the concept of marriage, nor does it honour God Himself who has clearly shown that same-sex relationships are taboo in His sight.

Many are saying that we should allow for same-sex couples to be married as a matter of equality. But it is not a matter of equality we need to focus on. Rather it is a matter of truth and reality as God sees it. It is a matter of honouring the Creator who has told what He thinks of marriage and has given laws to be obeyed for the benefit of humankind.

We would want our candidates for election to take a stand on marriage as being between a man and a woman. We would not want them to be influenced by so-called “progressive” ideas based on atheistic Marxist philosophies that are increasingly placing less and less importance on marriage and family. A vote for same-sex marriage would be an act of defiance against God’s declared will concerning marriage relationships. Conformity to the will of God brings blessing upon a nation. Conformity to some of the world’s values and ways of behaviour closes the door to His blessings and protection. So our candidate would need to be soft-hearted towards all people, concerned to love them with God’s agape love, seeking their best interests. However at the same time they would need to be tough-skinned when being unfairly accused of bigotry etc when they side with God against atheistic influences.

 3).   Peace-Makers. Verse 9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”   We noticed in the last article that this word “peace-makers” (eirēnopoios) is found only here in the New Testament. There is a similar expression in James 3:18, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” ( make = poiéō and peace = eirēnē).

Are you a peacemaker? I’m not asking whether you have a deep peace. The virtue is not so much in knowing peace oneself, though that is a blessing from God. The blessing is in being able to help establish peace between others. And one can do it because one has learned to experience peace within oneself. [I once counselled a woman who was trying to be reconciled to her husband. However she was greatly distressed when someone she went to for help, poured out her own hatred of men. She certainly did not encourage the woman to seek for reconciliation.] You can’t dispense what you don’t have!  It’s as we come to experience the peace of God in our own hearts and minds, that we can help others in their search for peace. The privilege of being children of God is that we can experience the peace of God which is beyond all understanding, and can share it with others.

We need to note in these violent days that Jesus is not saying, “Blessed are the pacifists!” Nor is He saying, “Blessed are the peace-keepers.” No, it is the “peace-makers” who are blessed. They are to actively seek to establish and maintain peace.

On a personal note. My father together with thousands of other young Australians went to war for King and country to fight in the trenches in France in World War 1. They didn’t go because they were violent men. Nor did they go because they wanted to have an overseas adventure. No, they believed their wider families in Britain and Europe needed protection against an aggressive advancing nation and they went to “make peace” not through reasoning it out with the enemy (for that was too late) but by trying to halt the advancing armies who were intent on murder and destruction.

Not many like to think of a peace-maker as having to defend innocent people against an aggressor but unfortunately it is sometimes necessary. We in Australia should be eternally grateful to all those young people who came to help defend us against a Japanese invasion during World War 2. So many families in the USA lost beloved children who came to help us in Australia as “peace-makers” when no other way of making peace was possible. Peace was “made” but at such a great cost! No one loves war, but sometimes those who are able to do so may need to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

We need to vote for candidates who hate war but who recognise that sometimes it may be necessary to respond appropriately in conflict situations where innocent people are being threatened with violence and death. They should be motivated to seek for ways of making peace for individuals and for peoples in other nations.

Australia and “outsiders” coming to our nation

On a very practical note about our desire for peace. It is important that we and our leaders recognise what those who have come out of Islam have warned us. That is that Islam means “submission” and not “peace”. It looks to establish Islamic law in every place and bring everyone under submission to Islam. We would err if we ignored those warnings and elected in our nations those who naively thought that it was a religion of peace. We would not want our elected representatives in Parliament to welcome into our country those who want to destroy us because they hold an extreme ideology.  Far too many world leaders have kept on saying that Islam is a religion of peace and that terrorism is not true Islam. However many present day Islamic leaders and those Islamic scholars who have left Islam publicly disagree with them and insist that terrorist acts and jihads are indeed true Islam. One would think that the Islamic leaders past and present might know a bit more about Islam than our western leaders.

It seems to me that Australians have a wonderful sense of fair-play and that they would welcome genuine refugees from any part of the world even if they came with absolutely nothing to offer in skills or possessions. Provided that they were willing to fit in with our culture and live by our values! I’m sure that many folk would only be too willing to help such people acquire skills and to eventually find employment. That certainly happened after the Second World War as thousands of migrants (DP’s I think we called them, Displaced persons) were warmly accepted into Australia. It has to be admitted that many of them had some exposure to Judeo-Christian values before they came. They valued the opportunity to live a new life in a new country with values similar to those countries from which they had come.  Assimilation and integration was their deep desire and so assimilation became a reality and not an impossible ideal.

What Australians are concerned about is not what people bring in their hands (they can come empty-handed). Rather they are concerned about what people bring in their heads as they come to our land. If they come to our lands having been brain-washed since birth to believe that all but themselves are dirty infidels worthy of nothing but death then that is a problem to be faced honestly and not ignored as part of a misplaced “tolerance” or so-called “compassion”.

How one discerns the thoughts and motivations of people is difficult indeed but our candidates for election would need to be those who were willing to face such problems and to seek the answers. Hopefully our candidates would not selfishly want to be seen by the community, or even by other nations, as “compassionate” caring people. It would be so easy for such people to seek to portray themselves as loving, tolerant, broad-minded and open hearted heroes (Nobel prize for peace contenders?) by opening wide the doors to our nation. However their unquestioning openness might in fact have exposed their fellow Australians to present and ever increasing danger through their naivety in allowing into our country those who would seek to harm us. For example Angela Merkel in Germany may have been recently seen as a hero for tolerance, mercy and generosity as she opened her country to a multitude of “unprocessed” refugees. (Time magazine “Person of the Year 2015” no less!) This was in spite of serious warnings that had been issued about jihadists who would enter Europe among genuine refugees. In spite too of the boasting of some Islamic leaders that this would be another form of jihad through migration. Not everyone in Europe would agree with what she has done. Nor would they necessarily see her as a hero. Tolerance in all its forms has to be tempered with reality not naivety.

Those whom we elect to parliament will have a very difficult task trying to work out how we may best help people in need without being naïve about the dangers. It is a task they must take extremely seriously and soon.

4).    Persecuted. Verse 10. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  In these days of increasing “victim mentality” it has to be said that Jesus is speaking about the persecution of those who want to live for Him, by His values, and who are willing to take a stand for Him. He is not talking about the suffering we bring upon ourselves through inappropriate behaviour or speech. People may feel that they are victims when they lay themselves open to abuse and to criticism by their insensitivity in unnecessarily upsetting others. For example none of us wants to be shown up by those who have had more success in some areas, or who are coping better than we are. An easy way to cope with our own failures is to discredit those who are making a better job of it than we are.  In that way we try to divert the gaze of people from our shortcomings, to get them to look at the failures of others. But it is a principle of life, we reap what we sow! Sow criticism and you will reap criticism. Sow negativity and you will reap negativity. Sow hatred and you will reap hatred. Sow indifference and you will reap indifference.  So love and you will reap love (but not necessarily from those whom you set out to love.)

Jesus taught that it is par for the course as a Christian to be mocked and persecuted. As He went on to say in verse {11} “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Persecution is not something we seek in order to get blessing. Rather it is the inevitable outcome of trying to lead a life pleasing to God. He might be pleased with our desire and efforts to serve Him but some of our fellow humans may not be so pleased with our devotion to Him.

Why do people persecute God’s people? Because they don’t really know Him or His laws, Psalm 119:150 “They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.” Saul of Tarsus thought he was persecuting Jesus’ followers. However he discovered in that encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus that it was actually Jesus whom he was persecuting, Acts 9:5.  He discovered that Jesus was alive and his life was changed by the grace of God. As he wrote of himself, 1Timothy 1:13  “though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.” His unbelief had blinded him to reality. His encounter with the Risen Jesus, with reality,  transformed him so that he became an agent of mercy rather than the murderous person he had become before.He had become a “new creature” as he described such a change in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 

 How should those who are being persecuted respond to their persecutors? Jesus taught his followers, Mat 5:44 “ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” St Paul also gave instructions, Rom 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” AND 1Cor 4:12  “and we labour, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure.” No doubt many of the early Christians were praying for Saul of Tarsus the Persecutor perhaps not knowing that eventually their prayers would be answered and Saul the Persecutor would become Paul the Preacher! It is no use when we are being persecuted to see ourselves as the victims of ongoing inevitable onslaughts. We have the weapon of prayer that enables us to have victory in spite of persecution and our prayers may be used by God to change the hearts of our persecutors, as Paul’s heart was changed.

Suffering persecution is inevitable for believers but it may be a sign to people that we belong to Jesus. It’s worth it to suffer in this way for His name, because the end result is our ongoing acceptance with God, and an entrance into all the kingdom riches God has for us in Christ.

Which candidate would be willing to be persecuted for honouring God and for seeking to maintain the Judeo-Christian ethos of our nation? Even if it brought scorn from other members of parliament and from some members of the general public?

Summing Up

If our life is right with God, we will be empowered to live as we should live in our relationships with our fellow humans. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live with the “Beautiful Attitudes” of the people of God? How might we pray to be people who live like that? Perhaps a simple prayer is that we might pray to be filled with the Spirit of God.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:18, “(keep on being) be filled with the Spirit.”  He also wrote in Galatians 5:16, that if we live by the dictates of the Spirit, we will “not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”   (He spells out in Galatians 5:19-21, all the rotten characteristics of human nature apart from God, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (That’s the world without God!)

But then Paul goes on to contrast that, with the beautiful fruit of the Spirit, the inevitable outcome of the life of Christ within us, if we allow the Spirit to fill us with Himself.)  So here are the qualities and characteristics of those whom we would want to elect to Parliament, Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,  kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self- control.” As you compare this list of characteristics with the list of Beatitudes you can see a strong resemblance. Both lists depend on the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to motivate and empower people to live and act in these ways.

God’s people enlightened and empowered by His Spirit to show forth those magnificent qualities. God’s people guided by His word and His Holy Spirit to make the decisions that will be beneficial for their own nation and for the other nations of the world. Indeed, modern day versions of William Wilberforce who helped change a world and free people from the evils of slavery.

Perhaps if we prayed as I suggested in a former article No.183 “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10, we might have more insight on the particular person we should elect to parliament. Not only that but as we keep praying that His kingdom may come and His will be done in that individual (and in the lives of all to be elected) then we might see changes for good in our nation that we might not have seen otherwise.

Blog No.185.   Jim Holbeck. Posted on Saturday 21st May 2016

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Forgiveness, Healing, Politics, Prayer, Sexuality, Temptations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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