7. Rewarded

The seventh characteristic of a Christian is found right here in verse 12:

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

According to Jesus, there is a “GREAT” reward for us in heaven. So He commands us to “rejoice and be glad”, because one day the weight of glory will far outweigh all the light and momentary troubles this world throws at us.

These are the characteristics of Christians:

  • They are meek when others are prideful.
  • They hunger after righteousness when the world thirsts after sin.
  • They are merciful to others even when they are sinned against.
  • They are pure in heart and donʼt just look good on the outside.
  • Christians are active peacemakers in a world at war against God and one another.
  • We may be rejected, but we will also be rewarded.

If we will surrender our lives, and be willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, from a human perspective our lives may seem to be a waste. Our family or acquaintances may call us crazy. The world may reject us and write us off as loony. But in Godʼs economy no life given to Him is wasted.

God is fully accountable to make use of any and every life that has been laid down to serve and follow Him.

You may not have heard of John Leonard Dober or David Nitschman, who lived in the 1700s. There was an island in the Caribbean where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. The owner had brazenly declared, “No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If heʼs shipwrecked weʼll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but heʼs never going to talk to any of us about God. Iʼm through with all that nonsense.”

Can you imagine? Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa were brought to an island in the Atlantic, there to live and die without ever hearing of the person and work of Christ. These two young Moravians, Dober and Nitschman, heard about this plight.

But what could they possibly do about it? How would they reach the slaves on that island if the Gospel (and therefore preaching) was forbidden?

These two young men did the unthinkable: they actually sold themselves as slaves to the British slave owner, using the money they received from their sale to pay for their voyage to his island. As the ship left its pier, the church gathered to see these two men, in their early twenties, off. This would not be a “see you later”.

The two young men were on a voluntary, one-way trip to lifelong slavery. The families stood there on the departure dock weeping, knowing they would literally never see the two again. As the gap widened between the ship and the shore, one of the young men raised his hand and shouted out the last words that were ever heard from them again:

“MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!”

God is responsible for those who give their lives to Him. Itʼs a backwards kingdom–and a backward economy.
God allowed Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus was fully God and yet He came from the highest place: heaven to earth and took the lowliest place–the place of a servant, and was crushed in our place.

Jesus brings mercy to those who donʼt deserve it, paying their penalty through His death on the cross.

Jesus–the spotless lamb of God who was the only human to ever truly be pure in heart–was nailed to the cross for you.

Jesus took the punishment you and I deserved.

The Beatitudes are attributes of Christ-followers because they are attributes of Christ Himself!

So letʼs be willing to offer our lives to Him–to live what the world may call a waste. Because when we give our lives in surrender to Jesus, it isnʼt a waste. He calls it worship.


Pastor Pilgrim Benham is the lead pastor at Shoreline Church, in southwest Florida.

Learn more at thisisshoreline.com

6. Rejected

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

The people of God are distinct from this world, and because of Jesus, we will be insulted, rejected, and lied about. Some may even be put to death. Today around the world millions of Christians are being persecuted for their faith–even being killed for believing in Jesus.

Did you know that the original 12 apostles who heard Jesus say this actual verse to them would eventually all be persecuted?

  • Peter was crucified upside down because when they went to crucify him he said he wasnʼt worthy to die like his Lord.
  • James was sawn in half–long ways.
  • Andrew went to Russia, Turkey, and Greece, and was crucified on an X- shaped cross because he too didnʼt want to die like Jesus.
  • Philip went to North Africa and was eventually crucified.
  • Bartholomew went to Armenia in eastern Europe and was eventually flayed and beheaded.
  • Thomas went to India and was killed by four soldiers spearing him to death.
  • Matthew the tax collector went to Ethiopia and was impaled to the ground and then beheaded.
  • The other James was either thrown off the temple and beaten to death, or surrounded by a mob who clubbed and stabbed him to death.
  • John, the apostle of love, was boiled in hot oil but didnʼt die, so he was banished to a rocky island as an exile. But eventually he was the only apostle to die from old age and not martyrdom.

Every year, 160,000 Christians are martyred for their faith. This year 160,000 will go to be with Jesus because of persecution.

These stories sound gory and awful–but Jesus calls those who are persecuted blessed. In the Beatitudes: blessed is repeated 9x and it means “Oh how happy”: the secret to happiness–to the blessed life–is not having a Popeyes chicken sandwich (even though those things are amazing!).

The secret to happiness is not having more money, more notoriety, or more comfort.

No, Jesus is saying that the recipe for a happy Christian life isnʼt about having anything, or doing something, but BEING something.

5. Peacemaking

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Christians are called to be those who bring people together, not those who gossip or tear others down and cause war. War has been happening for thousands of thousands of years, and it is one of the patterns of this world. The peace God wants us to have isnʼt an emotional state of oneness with others, but a true fellowship where wholeness is achieved.

The [original language] word is more of a concept: shalom. When we strive to do everything we can to be ambassadors of shalom we are called sons of God.

I wonder if the vitriol we find on social media can be countered by the salty and peacemaking injection of Christian witness?

Often we are more angry and demeaning to one another than the world is to one another— all behind the safety of our laptop screens. I have made it a personal goal to build relationships with those I disagree with and to engage them personally before digitally—all while maintaining what I believe without apology or compromise.

We have much work to do in this regard, but voices like Ray Ortlund, Jr and others are setting a great example for all believers in avoiding brawling and clamor.

These are the marks of the citizens of Godʼs Kingdom.

When we are living this BACKWARDS life on earth, then verses 10 and 11 will ALWAYS be the result

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousnessʼ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

#6 may surprise you, but according to Jesus, a characteristic of Christians is…

4. Pure

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Purity means to be whole, to not be tainted in any way. When we are seeking God and keeping our hearts pure, guarding them from anything or anyone that would contaminate them, then we have a better vision of Who God is. We can see God more clearly.

Often our vision is blurred because our hearts have become corrupted or contaminated.

We complain that we donʼt see God at work, that there is a doctrine too hard to believe, or we donʼt sense God is for us or with us. I have noticed that some people walk in darkness while complaining that they canʼt observe the light.

But when our hearts are pure, our motives are pure, then we find verse 9 and the fifth attribute marking our lives significantly…

3. Merciful

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Jesus said that with the same measure we forgive and show mercy to others, it will be shown to us. Consider the idea of cereal bowls: you go to fix a bowl of your favorite cereal and while you are making noise pouring it, your wife hears and calls to you from the other room, asking you to please pour her a bowl too. Now only God knows this–but you go to pour her a bowl and 100% of us are measuring that bowl and we compare the two bowls and give our spouses the smaller bowl!
In a small way, Jesus is saying that with the same measure–the same bowlful of mercy that we show to others—thatʼs what we can expect to receive back from Him!

Mercy is not getting what we do deserve. When you get what you deserve, thatʼs called justice. Wouldnʼt it be amazing if more people showed us mercy, like, in traffic? What if our employers extended us more mercy when we made mistakes or missed a deadline? We should extend the same mercy that God has extended to us in Christ.

And as we do that, we need to check our motives, and thatʼs where verse 8 comes in, and our fourth characteristic tomorrow…

2. Righteous

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

The next mark of Godʼs kingdom will be people who hunger and thirst to be like God.

What is hunger?

It is acknowledging that you lack something.

What is thirst?

To desire something so much that nothing else satisfies.

Is that how you feel about God?

When you are STARVING, you acknowledge that you are lacking something. “Just feed me..donʼt mess with me…give me some bacon and no one will get hurt…

When you are thirsty, after a workout, you donʼt merely want water—you need it. You need it so much that nothing else that is offered to you would satisfy. When we hunger and thirst for Godʼs righteousness, it means that we acknowledge that we are lacking something, and that God has it. We look to Him alone to satisfy us and nothing else will really do.

We cannot produce righteousness in ourselves–we must receive the righteousness of God that comes by faith in Jesus Christ. He alone imputes and imparts His righteousness to us.

Well, up until now the focus has been inward, but [from tomorrow] it shifts outward…

1. Meek

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Meekness is NOT weakness. Meekness is a quality that doesnʼt simply pertain to the outside world. It is an attitude of the heart. Itʼs inward. Most of us know that there is quite a difference between something you do outwardly and the attitude you have inwardly.

Meekness is the word you would use for an animal that has been domesticated, trained, and housebroken. Itʼs like a tame horse. A horse has the power to throw you off of it, but when it is tamed, you can put a saddle on it and reins and it will go where you lead it. A meek person is like a body builder holding a baby. A meek person has power, but that power is under Godʼs control.

Meekness is a Christian quality because it is the attitude of Jesus, who was constantly noted for the dominant characteristic of meekness, and when Christ is in us, we begin to exude meekness in our responses, reactions, and demeanor.

Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5 in some translations as “gentleness” (the more accurate word is ‘meekʼ). Notice that Jesus says those who are meek will truly inherit the earth.

The world may reject you–but you will inherit the earth.