What does it mean to be blessed by God or to be shown “favor” by God? Many think that favored blessings come to those who work hard for the church or on the mission field. Some think it comes by bargaining with God; “I do this, God, so you can favor me with what I want in this life.” Most of us, without digging deeper in the intent of what God says in His Word, think it is expecting special treatment by God as a person of position you hold in the community of believers, such as pastor, teacher, elder, deacon, or president of the church board. We have all missed the boat if we think this way.
Blessed means that we are always on God’s mind. Blessed means that God will come to those who ask for forgiveness and want to change their lives. Blessed is God entering into our lives to grow and develop His character traits in us while changing our thought life which result in changed behaviors. This process, by the way, will take an earthly lifetime!
Favor is the gift of God’s grace and mercy. We don’t earn it. Favor is a gift. We are graciously favored by God because we are saved by His grace. Mercy and grace with God’s unconditional love for His created sent Jesus to the world to save us so that we can come to God in an intimate growing relationship with God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Blessed with redemption. Favored by grace! Now, let’s get growing by God’s power living in us!
The Pharisees and other religious teachers and leaders, who hold positions of “man-made favor” in the Jewish community think they have it made. But then Jesus comes and begins to explain what God’s commands in His Law, His Word, really means and what living in the Kingdom of Heaven is truly like. The common people who have only heard orders and harsh directives from the religious in power and position, are now presented with a new way of thinking about God. They are drawn to this man who speaks with authority and power coupled with love and compassion. People of all ages come just to be near Him.
People are walking from the surrounding communities, coming to see and hear what they have never heard before in their lifetime. Those in power who have forgotten God altogether in their daily debates are now listening in to what Jesus has to say, not because they like what He says, but because he is drawing quite a crowd. Anger rises because of their fear of losing their prized and powerful positions in life. Jesus is Truth, speaks God’s Truth, lives God’s Truth and now tells God’s people the Truth. Jesus tells God’s people who He is while teaching the very character of God and what HE wants for each of us.
What Jesus says is rich, deep, and revolutionary to current world thinking. His words change open minds, revealing what Kingdom living really means. Jesus is telling us of God’s character traits and how we must be willing to grow in God’s character. So, let’s take this in smaller bites. Here is part one.
Matthew—The Law Fulfilled
Matthew 5:1-11, NLT—Part One
The Sermon on the Mount
5 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
(God will accept us for who we are but refuses to let us live there. Those who know they need God are blessed and will begin to grow in relationship with God while developing His character traits.)
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
(When we hear of the passing of a loved one, we lay aside all work schedules and plans, all those world things, and turn all we are to God for comfort. It has been noted that those who mourn are probably closer to God at this moment than at any other moment in life. Some cultures believe this and actually ask those in mourning to pray for them because they know God is close to them! God’s Holy Spirit is with we who mourn and teaches us how to mourn with others with compassion. People who mourn know what it is like and can help others when they mourn. This is another developing character trait of God—compassion.)
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
(The prophet Micah spoke of what God requires of us which encompasses Godly characteristics of humility and justice. Jesus explains how we are blessed in growing in these traits of humility, putting others needs ahead of our own; extending mercy to others as God as extended mercy to us; while seeking with hunger and thirst for God’s justice, not what we think is right. We need to walk with God to develop these traits and fine tune our responses to what happens in this world to match what God wants and requires from us. “…the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8)
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
(God sees our hearts, nothing is hidden from Him. Purity is desiring a clean heart motivated by realizing the depth of God’s love for us. God is consistently looking for hearts who are completely His and who want to grow His love, the greatest characteristic of all! “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 In fact, we are fools, this passage goes on to say, if we are not fully committed to God with pure hearts. We will always be at war with self if our hearts are not pure and committed to God alone, seeking to grow in His loving character. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8, NIV)
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
(We are truly blessed with God’s character of peace when we do everything within us to make peace with our brothers and sisters. Children of God think peace, know peace and know that peace ultimately comes from God. “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’” Romans 12:18, The Message.
If we have the peace of God in our hearts, growing in His character, God provides peace. Jesus tells us later that peace is a gift from God. Working for peace is what God’s children do because God is peace. Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. No matter what is going on around you, peace can remain in the hearts of those who believe. Clear heads reign in Kingdom hearts that seek peace.)
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Hearts given to Jesus who are growing in His character are different people to the world. We must expect to take criticism, harsh words, slaps against our being with ridicule for believing and following Jesus exclusively. It is a challenge to go against the flow. We need to develop the characteristic of God of longsuffering as shown by Jesus as He was tried for our sins. He was mocked and ridiculed for Kingdom of God teaching. So, God knows what you are going through. He didn’t leave you to deal with it on your own power. In fact, be confident! “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
God will never leave us. Jesus has shown us the victory. God’s Holy Spirit gives the power to survive persecution of all forms. Even death is our victory, for we shall then see Christ and live with Him forever in peace all because of God’s love, mercy and grace! This is what it means to be blessed and favored! Growing, maturing, fruitful and blossoming with Godly character while we wait for that blessed “well done, good and faithful servant.”
Abba Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name. Great are you, Lord! May your Kingdom come and reign in me. May Your Will be done on earth in every detail of my life as it is done in heaven. Give us this day all the power we need to follow you exclusively. Forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who offend, mock or humiliate us. Lead us not into temptations to fight back, get revenge or manipulate; but deliver us from evil and his character traits of evil. For YOU have all power. You are the Prince of Peace. You will bring justice. You are our Savior and Lord, King of kings and Lord of lords. I’m yours. I’m blessed and favored only by your salvation work in me.
In Jesus Name, Amen