The Sermon on the Mount—Happinesses 6 Through 9
JESUS stated ‘happiness’ number six of his Sermon on the Mount as follows: “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.”—Matt. 5:8.
“The pure in heart” are persons inwardly clean. Theirs is a purity of affections, desires, appreciation and motives. It contrasts markedly with merely external or ceremonial cleanness. (Matt. 23:25-28; Mark 7:3, 4) Rather than stressing outward displays of piety, the Scriptures encourage displaying “love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.”—1 Tim. 1:5.
The pure in heart enjoy happiness especially because “they will see God.” This does not necessarily mean literal seeing with the human eye, for ‘no man may see God and yet live.’ (Ex. 33:20; John 1:18; 1 John 4:12) But there are other ways in which rightly motivated worshipers on earth may “see God” at present. For example, observing God act in one’s behalf because of one’s integrity is a way to “behold God.” (Job 19:26; 42:5) Visits to the temple at Jerusalem for worship are described as one’s going “to see the face of Jehovah,” or to present oneself before him.—Ex. 34:24; Deut. 31:11; Isa. 1:12.
The Greek word that Matthew uses for “see” also means “to see with the mind, to perceive, know.” Since Jesus perfectly reflected God’s personality, he could say: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:7-9) The pure in heart who accepted Jesus as Messiah and listened to him gained deep insight into God’s personality. By exercising faith in Jesus’ sin-atoning sacrifice they gained forgiveness of sins and a relationship with God and were able to render acceptable worship before his throne. (Eph. 1:7) Seeing God in this sense will reach its pinnacle for spirit-anointed Christians when they get to heaven, for there they will actually see God and Christ.—1 John 3:2; 2 Cor. 1:21, 22.
The opportunity to see God through accurate knowledge and true worship, however, is only for those pure in heart. The Scriptures show that practicers of sin have neither seen nor come to know God and his son. “He that does bad has not seen God.”—1 John 3:6; 3 John 11; Ps. 24:3, 4.
“THE PEACEABLE” BECOME GOD’S SONS
Jesus gave as the seventh happiness of the Sermon on the Mount: “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’”—Matt. 5:9.
“The peaceable” are evident both by what they avoid and by what they practice. Peaceable individuals are not aggressive or belligerent; neither do they return evil for evil when wronged. (Rom. 12:14-21) But there is also a positive aspect to their disposition.
The Greek word for peaceable means “peacemakers.” They not only conduct themselves peacefully but go out of their way to establish peace and concord between contending parties. They refuse to participate in or condone anything that serves to ‘separate those familiar with one another.’ (Prov. 16:28; 17:9) By word and example they encourage peaceableness both within and outside the Christian congregation.—Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14.
The peaceable are happy, “since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” They enjoy an intimate relationship with God as his children. Maintaining this relationship, however, calls for imitating the qualities of God’s personality, which includes peaceableness. (2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20; Jas. 3:17) Anyone who unlovingly continues at enmity with his fellowman “does not originate with God.”—1 John 3:10.
In Jesus’ day the Jews believed that they were children of God because of being His human creatures. (Isa. 64:8) But Jesus showed this was not true even though they were the natural seed of Abraham. (John 8:39, 41) In fact, to certain ones Jesus declared: “You are from your father the Devil.” (John 8:44) Since all mankind inherit sin from Adam who was created an earthly “son of God,” sonship with God has not become automatic.—Rom. 3:23; 5:12; Luke 3:38.
Only the peaceable who accepted Jesus as the Messiah and sin-bearer were given “authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name.” (John 1:12; Isa. 53:12; 1 Pet. 2:24) The “great crowd” of peaceable “other sheep” of the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ will have him as their “Eternal Father” during his millennial kingdom, but at the end thereof he will turn them over to his own heavenly Father to become the offspring of God.—Rev. 7:9-17; John 10:14-16; Isa. 9:6; 1 Cor. 15:27, 28.
PERSECUTED, YET HAPPY
As the eighth happiness in this series, Jesus declared: “Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matt. 5:10) Expanding on this he uttered a ninth happiness: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.”—Matt. 5:11, 12; compare Luke 6:22, 23.
“Those who have been persecuted” are Christians who have experienced reproach, slander and ostracism “for righteousness’ sake,” or “for the sake of the Son of man.” Their sufferings are due to worshiping Jehovah and bearing the name of Jesus Christ and following his footsteps closely.—1 Pet. 2:19-21.
The reason for rejoicing here is the same as that given in the first happiness, namely, “the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Compare Matthew 5:3.) Though it may mean reproach, being expelled from their communities and even death in some cases, Christians know that the “joy” of ruling with Christ in God’s heavenly kingdom or enjoying perfect human life as its earthly subjects are well worth it.—Matt. 25:21, 23; Heb. 12:2; Rev. 21:1-5.
This ‘reward in the heavens’ (that is, from God) is not in the sense of wages earned for work done. Under no circumstances can sinful humans earn God’s favor and obligate him to bless them. (Gal. 2:16; Jas. 2:10) The reward of kingdom blessings is an “indescribable free gift,” an evidence of God’s benevolence and generosity. (2 Cor. 9:15; Jas. 1:16-18) It is a reward paid to Christians for faithfully enduring reproach, persecution and wicked lies said against them because of their unbreakable devotion to God.
Jesus also presented a contrast to these final two happinesses, saying: “Woe, whenever all men speak well of you, for things like these are what their forefathers did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26) Rather than proclaiming God’s truth, the “false prophets” of ancient Israel spoke what people wanted to hear; and the people “loved it that way.” (Jer. 5:31) But such popularity has never been an indication of God’s favor. The approval of Jehovah God rests only upon persons who speak and act in accord with his Word. (Ps. 15:1, 2) Those who do that, however, can expect persecution, for Jesus said: “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”—John 15:20.