17-Life in the Kingdom of God - Our Values
By Colleen Donahue
What we value is behind how we live. It affects how we think and how we act. Values direct how we use our time, money and other resources. What Kingdom of God citizens value is often opposite to this world. That's because in God's Kingdom we value what God values. Jesus summed up most of what a Kingdom of God citizen should value in what is called "the Sermon on the Mount". Let's look at these one by one.
VALUES EXPRESSED IN THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit
To be poor in spirit is to recognize our state before a holy God. We are sinners separated from God by a wide chasm -- spiritually destitute. Humility is our point of entry to a relationship with God. For one who is humble before God sees himself as God does -- with nothing we can do to change ourselves. What is the reward for being poor in spirit?
In other words, it's the humble heart that God can reach and teach. And it's the humble heart where God chooses to dwell!
Remember who Jesus says will be greatest in the Kingdom of God?
Children are humble, dependent, trusting, and teachable. Those are the characteristics that God values in his people. And if He values them so should we.
2. Blessed are those who mourn
This follows being poor in spirit. When in humility we see ourselves as God sees us -- and then mourn over our sins against Him, what does He promise us?
Through Jesus at the cross our sins are forgiven and he invites us to find rest for our souls.
Matthew 11: 28-30
Then He gives us His own Spirit to indwell our spirit and HE becomes our peace throughout our life. What will the Holy Spirit continually remind us of so that we can be comforted and walk in peace?
For a Kingdom of God citizen, this mourning often extends beyond ourselves to a mourning over our family, friends, and other earthly nations that may be far from God. Listen in on Jeremiah as he mourns for sinful Judah.
3. God blesses those who are meek.
Meekness has been said to be strength under control. Someone who isn't meek will react to every little insult and injury. They are at the mercy of every person who says or does something that they don't like. In contrast, a meek person has patience and wisdom in dealing with others. They don't lash out with sudden anger or vengeance.
Meekness isn't letting others ride over the top of us. Here is the meek Jesus responding to the High Priest and then one of the temple guards.
John 18: 19-23
Here we see the meek Paul standing firm against a cover up.
No two men endured more wrong against them than Jesus and Paul but they bore it patiently without pressing their rights and trampling over others.
We know that a meek person isn't weak or cowardly when we see what God blesses them with.
When Jesus uses this language about inheriting the earth it means that the meek will be received into God's Kingdom and will be instrumental in ruling and reigning with Christ on the earth -- both now and in the future. A meek man is a man of peace who trusts that God will eventually take care of wrongs done him by others.
In contrast, someone without meekness must continually be standing up for his own rights and fighting to keep his corner of the world. He/she is like a troubled sea of water constantly stirring up the dirt and mire on the bottom. They are often impatient, quarrelsome people who raise up many enemies so that they actually become unsuccessful in all that they do. If you have been like this in the past go to the humble and meek Jesus so that you can learn from Him.
Reread Matthew 11:29
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
You will notice that the values Jesus lays out are building one upon another. When in our poverty of Spirit we see ourselves in God's light, mourn for our sins, and then go forward in life with the same meekness that Jesus had -- we'll soon have a strong desire to also have the right standing with God and man that Jesus had. To hunger and thirst in scripture means an ardent desire. It won't be enough to just be forgiven sinners. We want to talk and walk like Jesus as we continue His life in the world. Paul puts it like this:
Romans 13:12-14 (especially vs 14)
John puts it like this:
1 John 2:6
Both express the same deep desire to be as Jesus is in the world we live in. John says, "....in this world we are like Jesus." (1 John 4:17b). If this is true we must have his goodness and love for others and so we hunger for the righteousness of Jesus. And when we do, what are we promised?
Some translations say that we will be filled and some write we will be satisfied. When a hungry man eats to his fill, he is satisfied. So every person who longs to be holy will find a Father in Heaven more than ready to gratify that desire.
5. Blessed are the merciful.
When we become affected by the sufferings of others, then we become disposed to want to alleviate their suffering. For we have had the mercy of God extended to us as a guilty sinner and now as one of His own we wish to reach out to others with that same mercy.
God absolutely delights in showing us mercy.
Exodus 34:6 / Ezekiel 33:11 / 1 Timothy 2:3-4 / 2 Peter 3:9
Therefore when we show mercy to others we are most like God.
Micah 6:8 / Luke 6:36
And in turn what will God do for us?
Matthew 5:7b / James 2:13
6. Blessed are the pure in heart.
There are many who look good on the outside but have a heart that doesn't match up. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were an example of this that Jesus exposed.
That is not to be the way for Kingdom of God citizens. As God's Spirit indwelling our own changes us from the inside out, we become holy as God is holy. Therefore, what we say and do matches up with what is inside. When this occurs, what results?
So to be pure in heart is the value of having a life of integrity. If we could be sliced in two like an apple we would be the same through and through. And for those like this what is promised?
At the judgment we will all see God, but here it is the sense of having special favor with God. So, "to see" God means to be one of his friends and dwell with Him in his kingdom.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Men and women are naturally bent towards strife because we are proud and opinionated. It happens even in the body of Christ. But peacemakers work to prevent strife and to use their influence to smooth hostilities.
What are those who are skilled in this regard called?
To be called a child of God or a son of God has the connotation of "like father like son". Since He is a God of love and peace so should we value that as well.
2 Corinthians 13:11 / Philippians 4:9 / 1 Thessalonians 5:23 / Hebrews 13:20a
God is the author of peace.
1 Corinthians 14:33
Therefore all who desire to promote peace become like Him and are worthy to be called His children.
8. Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness sake.
Matthew 5:10a, 11
If we are reviled and called by contemptuous names for following and serving Jesus, we are in good company. For that is how Jesus was treated.
What did Jesus make plain to his disciples then, that is still true now?
John 15:18-20 / 2 Timothy 3:12
Why will people persecute those who follow Jesus?
John 15:21, 23
How did Jesus respond to the suffering that others caused him?
1 Peter 2:21-23
How do we need to respond as exemplified by Paul?
1 Corinthians 4:12
James who was the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church went so far as to say that when these trials come, we should see them as opportunities of great joy! Why?
What is the reward for suffering persecution?
People truly possess something when they have poured all of themselves into it. When we suffer because we follow Jesus, we literally give our lives and therefore to such the Lord gives Himself and all of His kingdom. They will dwell forever in the house of the Lord.
In Matthew 5:11 we should take note of the word "falsely". The verse says, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."
We are not to seek persecution or act in such a way that treats others (especially of another religious persuasion) unkindly or with offense. When we act without love and regard for those who think differently from us then we may be deserving of what we get back. But if we are reviled as our Master was and take it with patience, what should we do?
Those who suffer the most for Jesus and His kingdom will have God's highest rewards.
9. Kingdom of God citizens value righteousness --- Without this value we will never be able to be a citizen in the Kingdom of God. Jesus says in this verse that there are two kinds of righteousness.
What does he mean?
The Pharisees and teachers of the law prided themselves in keeping all the rules. They looked good to everyone else -- at least on the outside. They were examples of a righteousness that comes by self-effort. They were "good people". There are a lot of good, moral people all around us that will not be part of the Kingdom of God. How does God see all of our own righteous acts or good works?
So what kind of righteousness does God want that is better than our good works?
2 Corinthians 5:21
Notice that it is "in Him" or "in Jesus" that we take on the righteousness that satisfies God. This is something that God did FOR US when we were still spiritually dead in our sins.
Ephesians 2:1-6 / Colossians 2:13-14
When God sees the blood of His Son over your life, He is satisfied.
Hebrews 9:14 / 1 Peter 1:18-19
The righteousness that we have because we are "in Christ" is the only kind of righteousness (or right standing with God) that will allow us into His kingdom. We are "in Christ" because God put us there and then He comes to be "in us" when we repent of our former way of life and ask Him to indwell us as His home. We being "in Christ" and He "in us" then naturally leads to a life of holiness and good works.
It's the righteousness of Christ that we must value and not our own.
10. When we value being right with God then it also means we must value being right with one another. And Jesus has much to say on that count. Murder is something that 99.9% of us would never do and yet a high percent of us will be judged as murderers. Why?
Matthew 5:21-24 (especially vs 22)
Adultery is also something that most of us won't commit and yet many of us will be judged for that very sin. Why?
In a society where divorce is as common as remarriage there will be many whom God will judge with adultery.
Jesus tells us that our word should be our bond. When we say "yes" and "no" we should mean it and do what we say we will do no matter how hard.
There are some people who are impossible to be right with because they have no desire to be right with us. Does that mean we stop trying and give them a taste of their own medicine?
These are some of the hardest words that Jesus ever spoke. They are incomprehensible and virtually impossible for a person without Christ's indwelling Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit indwelling our own we have no power or ability to do such hard things. But it gets worse than this. Jesus turned the conventional teaching of their time (and ours as well) upside down!
Kingdom of God citizens are to value the divine standard of life over man's standards.
This is one of the clear divides between Kingdom of God citizens and kingdom of the world citizens.
11. Kingdom of God citizens value meeting the needs of others without being rewarded here on earth. What do they value more than the accolades of men?
12. Kingdom of God citizens value time to communicate with their Father. In these verses can you pick out a phrase Jesus used three times?
Matthew 6: 5-8
There can be no real relationships without communication. Jesus assumes that we will be in constant touch with the Father just as He was. So he never says, "If you pray," he says, "When you pray." And then he launches into what that prayer should look like.
Jesus teaches us that we are first to be concerned about who God is and what the Father wants. Reread these verses and list the three things he mentions.
It's sad to say that most of us are more concerned with our personal interests than God's and so we often bypass this very important recognition of WHO we are talking with. If you were given an audience with the president, prime minister, king or queen, you know that you would prepare for such a meeting. You'd dress in your best and have a special greeting prepared. You'd start with "Good morning your majesty" or "Mr. President".
We can start our prayer time as King David often did. Here are just a few examples:
Psalm 8:1 / Psalm 9:1 / Psalm 19:1 / Psalm 29:1-2 / Psalm 34:1-3 / Psalm 48:1
Only after we have been concerned with the Father and HIS interests should we talk about our own. But the Father does want us to come to Him with everything that matter to us, no matter how small. In these verses Jesus lists four things we all might be concerned with and they build in intensity. Reread:
Jesus starts by suggesting we ask for the most basic of our needs: food. But of course it could be any number of personal needs we might have.
Then, we all have a debt to God. Yes we have been offered forgiveness in Jesus but everyday there is the possibility that we can say and do things that can be an offense to the Father -- even though we don't mean to. So we must clear this up. Most often our offense against the Father has come because we have sinned against one of his children. That's why Jesus elaborates on this point.
After our basic needs and clearing the air with God we know we'll be heading out into a day fraught with temptations to say and do all kinds of things we might regret. And so we can ask God to help us not to yield to temptation. We can name those specific things that tempt us. Depending on the Bible translation you read it may say, "lead us not into temptation." God never leads us into temptation as James points out in these verses. How is it that we get tempted?
Jesus knows that when we are tempted to say and do things that are unlike Him, we may be under direct attack by the evil one. That's why we should ask even before it happens that He be on hand to "deliver us from the evil one." Jesus wants us to never forget that while we live here on earth we are in Satan's kingdom. Yes, Jesus has triumphed over Satan by his death and resurrection but none-the-less Satan still roams this earth looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
This verse implies that there are those among Kingdom of God citizens that Satan can devour and he is constantly out looking for that one. In these verses list how we can successfully resist our adversary.
1 Peter 5:8-9 / James 4:7-10
13. Kingdom of God citizens value fasting. Like prayer, fasting is something that Jesus assumed all Kingdom of God citizens would value. We know this by a phrase he uses twice in these verses.
Fasting is a natural expression of grief in the soul because of our sin. By it (i.e. fasting) we express to God our firm resolve to put Him first over the allures of this world and to be in rightstanding with Him. Because we are not taking the time to eat a meal, it's time we can use to be with the Father in more prayer. So by combining fasting with prayer we are saying to the Father that we want Him -- his mind and heart ---for our lives more than anything else.
14. Kingdom of God citizens value treasure in Heaven.
Most of us will enjoy the good gifts our Father gives us on this earth. But what is the difference between a citizen in the Kingdom of God verses a citizen of this world only?
What does the Apostle Paul say is our most valuable treasure of all?
15. Kingdom of God citizens value trusting in God more than trusting in themselves and their own resources. For most of us this takes a life time to learn. The end result is a life without worry and anxiety. As you read through these verses notice the command that Jesus uses three times.
Now go back through these same verses and list for yourself WHY you should not worry.
As Kingdom of God citizens Jesus makes clear to us that when our priorities are in line with God's then He will provide for us all that we need. Reread and memorize:
16. We value free will for others so that they can find their way with God the way we are finding it.
Because we value free will what DON'T we do?
Each of us are on a journey led by God Himself. Jesus knows that we all affect one another and therefore what advice does He have for us?
17. We value others in the Kingdom of God who are along the same journey as we are on and bearing fruit for God. How are we to recognize our true brothers and sisters in Christ?
Matthew 7:15-23 (especially vs 16a, 20-21)
18. We value the Word of God so that we can put it into practice and build our lives on solid ground.
19. Kingdom of God citizens value God's way over the way of this world. We find this especially true in the issue of marriage.
Matthew 19:3-9 (also Mark 10:2-12)
Man's easy laws of divorce are not recognized by God. That is why when one divorces and remarries they commit adultery.
RICH TOWARDS GOD
20. Our Father is so generous. He loves to bless us -- especially the work of our hands. But what we do with that blessing is often what distinguishes a Kingdom of God citizen from a kingdom of this world citizen as Jesus brings out in this parable.
Verse 19 sums up the world's attitude towards riches. We make money so that we can take life easy and have fun. Then when we retire we'll have plenty stored up to live comfortably. Why is this kind of thinking short-sighted?
Before Jesus even started to tell us this parable, he told us what we all need to be on guard against.
Kingdom of God Citizens value being rich towards God and concerned for all that He loves. Therefore we value putting the concerns of His Kingdom first and when we do so how does this affect us?
World citizens use God's blessings to store up riches for themselves, how does a Kingdom of God citizen use God's abundance to them?
2 Corinthians 9:8
To have an abundance so that we can do "every good work" means that God has provided for our needs and we have more than enough to give to others. The more we give, the more He gives because God will not be outdone!
HOW KINGDOM OF GOD VALUES AFFECT SOCIETY
As we live by the values of the Kingdom of God what two things do we become to the society around us?
Salt does two things. First it makes people thirsty. They see in our lives something that they wish THEY had. It can lead us to introducing them to the Savior. Second, salt preserves. Kingdom of God citizens by their lives are keeping the world from entire moral corruption.
Jesus is to the moral world what the sun is to the natural world -- i.e. light. Since Jesus now lives within each of his children WE have become the lights in this world. By our lives we show others what God requires and how to walk here in this world so as to arrive safely into the next world.