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Happiness is Purity and Peacemaking

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Matthew 5:7–9

Only those who have been justified through faith in Christ and are at peace with God can be the true, merciful peacemakers this world really needs.


Jesus has begun preaching His famous Sermon on the Mount, as we call it today. And He has turned upside down the conventional path to true happiness. The world says, “Happiness is based on what happens to you,” and Jesus says, “No, happiness is based on what is inside of you.” The world says, “Happiness is based on wealth.” Jesus says, “Happiness is based on wisdom.”

And so, He continues delivering more surprising principles of wisdom here in Matthew 5. At verse 7, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Now do not misunderstand this. Jesus is not saying, “If you show mercy to others, you will receive mercy in return.” That does not always happen, does it? In fact, if that were true, the most merciful Man to ever walk the planet would never have been crucified on that old rugged cross.

Neither is Jesus saying, “If you show mercy to others, you will earn mercy from God.” If you are an unbeliever, showing mercy to someone is not going to get you into heaven.

What Jesus is saying here is this: “Since you have received the mercy of God, now demonstrate that merciful spirit to other people.”

Do you want true happiness? Show people mercy. There is mercy in forgiveness. There is mercy when we withhold that which someone deserves and when we refuse to take revenge. Mercy is the imitation of Jesus Christ, who in mercy saved us. One author put it this way: “Mercy is giving attention to those in misery.”[1]

Whenever I traveled to India, I was always moved by the masses of poor people considered untouchables—they were the lowest caste in this Hindu culture. Filthy children chasing after us, begging for pennies; women begging on street corners with babies on their hips—their lives were filled with suffering and difficulty.

Their religion taught that they had reincarnated as untouchables because of a prior life of sin; so, they deserved to suffer. There was no mercy for them.

I met a Christian woman who went among these poor people, inviting young girls to her little school, and giving them clean uniforms. She used a public bathroom as a classroom; she scrubbed the floors clean and sat the girls in tidy rows each day and taught them with such love. Let me tell you, she was genuinely happy as she demonstrated the love and mercy of Christ.

Now with that, Jesus delivers another step to true happiness in verse 8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Maybe you read that, and you think, “Well, then I’ll never be happy, or see God one day, because my heart certainly isn’t pure.”

However, when you study the Scriptures, you discover there is positional purity and practical purity. Positional purity is the work of God for Christians, and practical purity is the work of Christians for God.

Positional purity is another term for salvation or justification. Through faith in Christ, you are justified––declared pure by His cleansing work (Romans 3:23-24). Frankly, positional purity is the easy side of the equation because God does all the work (Ephesians 2:8-9)!

Practical purity is our part—our responsibility. The Greek word here for “pure” is katharos, which refers to integrity.

David prayed for this in Psalm 51:10, saying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” And I can assure you that when you depend on the Spirit of God as you pursue a life of integrity, you are going to see God at work in your life and even in the world around you.

 I remember reading about a special telescope that was going to be launched into space, equipped to see images some 7 billion light years away. As it orbited our planet, it would be sending images back to earth.

But there were delays, and the lenses in that telescope needed to be kept safe while the project was completed. The delays would extend for some seven years. All that time, these lenses were kept in a perfectly sterile, clean facility in Sunnyvale, California—at a cost of $8 million a month. And you thought you paid a lot for rent!

These scientists clearly understood the best way to see the heavens was through a clean lens.

Well, that is what Jesus is saying here. Do you want to see the hand of God at work, which brings you true happiness? Then keep your heart clean by confessing your sin every single day.

Then Jesus goes on to preach here in verse 9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” By the way, He does not say, “Happy are the peaceful” but “Happy are the peacemakers.”

The Lord uses a compound word here for “peacemakers.” He is referring to people who actively negotiate peace.[2] And when we do that, the world recognizes that we are sons of God. They realize that we must be related to God because we are living out the heart of God in bringing peace to our world.

Well, the cross of Jesus Christ is the greatest example of peacemaking, and it cost the life of the Peacemaker. The Lord suffered for our sin, and the apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1:20 that Jesus Christ made peace by the blood of His cross.

Beloved, every time you share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, you are engaged in peacemaking. The world is in deep trouble at this very moment, whether people realize it or not. The world is virtually at war with the God of heaven. We have been assigned as ambassadors of Christ, offering to our world peace with God.

That is exactly what the apostle Paul emphasized in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 20, where he wrote this:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Every year that I teach at Shepherds Seminary, I require that my pastoral theology students read the biography of Robert Chapman. Robert Chapman was a single man all his life as he pastored the same little church, back in nineteenth-century England. He was a man deeply respected for his love of Christ and love for others. Charles Spurgeon, the famous pastor in this same region in England, once said that Robert Chapman was the godliest man in all of England.

That did not mean everybody liked Pastor Chapman. A grocer who lived in this same area hated Christ and did not want anything to do with the gospel that Chapman often preached outdoors. It infuriated this unbelieving man. In fact, on one occasion, he walked over while Chapman was preaching outdoors and spit on him. For years, this grocery store owner would verbally attack him whenever he had the chance. Robert Chapman never retaliated.

One day, some of Robert’s wealthy family members came to spend several days with him. Since Robert was a single man, they had decided to cook for him while they were there. They asked him where groceries could be purchased. Chapman insisted they go to this one particular grocery store. There they went, and after purchasing a large amount of food, they asked that it be delivered to the home of Robert Chapman.

This grocer was stunned. Surely, he told them, they must have come to his store by accident. “No,” they replied, “Mr. Chapman insisted that we come here.” When the grocer arrived with this delivery and Chapman answered the door, the man broke down in tears; his hardened heart had been finally softened by the peacemaking efforts of Robert Chapman. And that afternoon, he yielded his life to the Lord.[3]

And as for Robert Chapman? He experienced peace with this man, at last.

That is what it means to be a peacemaker. It isn’t easy, but it will always be the right way to demonstrate our family connection to our Great Peacemaker, the Prince of Peace, our Lord.

[1] R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount (Crossway, 2001), 46.

[2] Ibid., 62.

[3] Robert L. Peterson and Alexander Strauch, Agape Leadership (Lewis & Roth Publishers, 1991), 44.

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