This is the second part of a two-part series entitled, “The Constitution of a Perfect Life.” Read part one here.

The word Beatitude means “to be blessed” or “to be happy.” Jesus had taught these principles of happiness to his Judean disciples and to the Nephites. In the last article, we discussed:

  • Sustaining Leaders
  • Believing Christ by receiving Baptism and the Holy Ghost
  • Bearing Testimony
  • Becoming Poor in Spirit
  • Mourning Righteously
  • Becoming Meek
  • Hungering and Thirsting after [for] Righteousness

This week we will discuss:

  • Becoming Merciful
  • Becoming Pure in Heart
  • Becoming a Maker of Peace
  • Being Willing to Suffer Persecution for the Cause of Christ

Becoming Merciful

And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.[i]

The Law of the Harvest states, “…whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap.”[ii] Applied to mercy, the Law of the Harvest reads: “those who sow righteousness reap mercy.”[iii] That is, when a Zion person strives to live faithfully in the new and everlasting covenant, he qualifies for the Lord’s mercy.

Mercy is another of the gospel’s reciprocal principles; once mercy is given it returns “with increase.” [iv] Mercy, like love, multiplies when it is “given first.”[v] Elder Henry D. Moyle said, “There is an eternal truth, the verity of which I am certain, that love begets love, and as we love one another, our ability to love increases.”[vi] The same could be said of mercy. President Gordon B. Hinckley said,

How godlike a quality is mercy. It cannot be legislated. It must come from the heart. It must be stirred up from within. It is part of the endowment each of us receives as a son or daughter of God and partaker of a divine birthright…. I am convinced that there comes a time, possibly many times, within our lives when we might cry out for mercy on the part of others. How can we expect it unless we have been merciful ourselves?…. One cannot be merciful to others without receiving a harvest of mercy in return….[vii]

Mercy is defined as compassionate treatment, especially to those for whom we have a responsibility; it is showing clemency or leniency toward an offender; it is a disposition to be kind and forgiving, and a willingness to alleviate distress and give relief.[viii] Heavenly Father sets the standard of mercy: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father is also merciful.”[ix]

The Father’s plan of mercy called for an infinite atonement to “satisfy the demands of justice,” and encircle us “in arms of safety.”[x] The Savior’s mission was to enact the Father’s plan of mercy, which “overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they might have faith unto repentance.”[xi] Because of the Lord’s atonement, the meek have claim upon mercy: “I, the Lord, show mercy unto all the meek.”[xii] A Zion person is merciful even as the Lord is merciful.[xiii]

Becoming Pure in Heart

 And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.[xiv]

Notice the word all. Perhaps more than any other principle, this one describes a Zion person: “Zion is the pure in heart.”[xv] President Kimball taught,

Zion can be built up only among those who are the pure in heart, not a people torn by covetousness or greed, but a pure and selfless people. Not a people who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart. Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism. No, Zion is not things of the lower, but of the higher order, things that exalt the mind and sanctify the heart.[xvi]

President Kimball suggested three fundamental things to become pure in heart and thus “bring again Zion”:[xvii]

  • Eliminate selfishness
  • Cooperate completely and work in harmony one with one another
  • Lay on the altar whatever is required by the Lord.[xviii]

To be pure in heart suggests a change of heart or a rebirth, which begins with baptism and leads to eternal life: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God….”[xix] Explaining the process of rebirth or changing one’s heart, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism says,

Scripture describes the rebirth to which Jesus refers as a mighty change in your hearts’ or being born of God’ (Alma 5:13, 14). It means that the person puts off the natural man’ [telestial man] and puts on a new [Zion] nature that has no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually’ (Mosiah 5:2; 3:19). A person who is pure of heart is one who has died to evil and awakened to good. Thus pure people,’ being alive to good, dwell together in righteousness and are called Zion (Moses 7:18). Zion, then, is the way of life of a pure-hearted people who abide in the Covenant and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.[xx]

Beyond this description, the pure in heart are those who forsake their sins, come unto Christ, call on his name, obey his voice and keep his commandments.[xxi]

On August 2, 1833, the Lord gave an expanded revelation on the principle of being pure in heart:

And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.[xxii]

This revelation places the temple at the center of importance concerning a pure hearted person’s qualifying to see God. “To see God, according to Elder Royden G. Derrick, [is more than visual sight; it] means to come to know God, discover him, and understand him (Temples in the Last Days, 80).”[xxiii] A Zion person is privileged to come to know God, discover him, understand him, and to literally see him, for Zion is God’s “abode forever.”[xxiv]

The temple ordinances help to purify one’s heart and point that person toward this supernal experience:

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

            Therefore, in the ordinances thereof [the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood], the power of godliness is manifest.

            And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God.[xxv]

The temple is the likely place where that will happen. Hugh Nibley said, “…the temple is the earthly type of Zion….”[xxvi] Quite literally, the temple is heaven on earth. Because heaven is where God lives, the pure in heart-all the pure in heart[xxvii]– may enter the temple, God’s house, and partake of its ordinances and commune with and see God.

Becoming a Maker of Peace

And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.[xxviii]

Again, notice the word all. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”[xxix] Clearly, peace ranges in levels, as do other gospel principles, from telestial, which is almost non-existent[xxx] and usually means absence of war, to celestial, which “passeth all understanding.”[xxxi] The Lord’s peace is, according to Elder McConkie, a gift of the spirit,[xxxii] and Satan cannot duplicate it.[xxxiii] Mortal fear flees in the face of the Lord’s peace: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”[xxxiv]

When the Lord established Zion among the Nephites, they experienced unequalled peace. The following description is remarkable:

  • No contentions
  • No disputations
  • Every man dealing justly one with another
  • All things in common
  • No rich, poor, bond, or free
  • Peace and prosperity in the land
  • A love of God in the hearts of the people
  • No envyings, strifes, tumults, whoredoms, lyings, murders, or lasciviousness
  • No robbers, murderers, or any “-ites.”[xxxv]

Every person-each and every peacemaker[xxxvi]–who strives to make celestial peace follows the example of the Prince of Peace, and that person’s reward is glorious: “…he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”[xxxvii]

Melchizedek, who established Zion among his people, became a peacemaker and followed the example of the Savior to become a prince of peace: “Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace.”[xxxviii] Likewise, Abraham desired to establish Zion and become a prince of peace.[xxxix]

The peace of Zion that a peacemaker establishes blesses his family: “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”[xl] For making such an effort, the Lord promises that peacemakers will become sons and daughters of God, meaning that such people will become “joint heirs with Christ, inheriting with him the fullness of the Father. (D&C 93:17-23)… [and become] gods in eternity. (D&C 76:58).”[xli]

Being Willing to Suffer Persecution for the Cause of Christ

And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.[xlii]

Persecution comes in a variety of ways, but it appears to be the common lot of every saint who espouses the principles of Zion. Paul said, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”[xliii]

One form of persecution is mockery and scorn, as exhibited by the people in Lehi’s great and spacious building: “…their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come and were partaking of the fruit.”[xliv] That persecution grew out of the mockers’ pride and vain imaginations, meaning their useless pursuits.[xlv] These people were clearly vicious in their motives to dissuade the people of God.

Nephi described the philosophies of the persecutors as having the capacity to torture, slay, bind down, yoke and bring into captivity the saints of God.[xlvi] We understand the meaning to be both temporal and spiritual abuse and confinement. These persecutors were idolaters, materialistic and sexually perverse: “And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots.”[xlvii]

The proud of Babylon have always persecuted Zion’s people, who are defined as the poor, i.e. poor in pride, poor in spirit, poor as to things of this world: “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor….”[xlviii] Moreover they who are rich often judge the poor harshly and withhold their assistance, which is a form of persecution[xlix]; or they see themselves in an elevated class and consider themselves better[l]; or they persecute, mock and ignore the poor in favor of increasing their holdings, which they idolize as if they were sanctuaries:

…because of pride they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.[li]

This sin, according to Jacob, is very “abominable unto God.”[lii] Zion people are never accepted by Babylon, and they never will be. Babylon has been and ever will be the enemy and persecutor of Zion: “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”[liii] But for enduring the persecutions of Babylon, the humble followers of Christ will earn the greatest reward that God has to offer. Because they have believed in him and tried at all costs through their works and examples to build up his kingdom on the earth for the establishment of his Zion, they will inherit nothing less than the celestial Kingdom of Heaven, the eternal Zion of God.

These qualities are the conditions and characteristics of blessedness and happiness that are embraced and enjoyed by a Zion person. Some of the Beatitudes speak to the first commandment of loving God, while others involve the second commandment of loving our neighbor. Collectively, they reveal “Jesus’ character “in words.”[liv] Or as President Harold B. Lee described the Beatitudes, they are the “constitution for a perfect life.”[lv] They describe a Zion person.

(This article was adapted from the Pillars of Zion series.

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[i] 3 Nephi 12:7

[ii] D&C 6:33

[iii] Hosea 10:12

[iv] Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, January 1983

[v] See 1 John 4:19

[vi] Henry D. Moyle, Conference Report, April 1951, p.125-126

[vii] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Blessed are the Merciful,” Ensign, May 1990

[viii] See American Heritage Dictionary, “Mercy”

[ix] Luke 6:36

[x] Alma 34:15-16

[xi] Alma 34:15-16

[xii] D&C 97:2

[xiii] See 3 Nephi 27:27

[xiv] 3 Nephi 12:8

[xv] D&C 97:21

[xvi] Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, p.363

[xvii] Isaiah 52:8; Mosiah 12:22; 15:29; 3 Nephi 16:18: D&C 113:8

[xviii] Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, p.363

[xix] John 3:5

[xx] Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Zion,” p.1625

[xxi] See D&C 93:1

[xxii] D&C 97:15-16

[xxiii] D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner, Verse by Verse: The Four Gospels, p.180, insertion added

[xxiv] Moses 7:21

[xxv] D&C 84:19-23, insertion and emphasis added

[xxvi] High Nibley, Approaching Zion, p.27

[xxvii] 3 Nephi 12:8

[xxviii] 3 Nephi 12:9

[xxix] John 14:27

[xxx] See D&C 1:35

[xxxi] Philippians 4:7

[xxxii] See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, “Peace,” p.561-563. He lists the following scriptures: Psalms 37:37; 119:165; Isaiah 26:3; 48:18, 22; 57:21; Romans 8:6; 10:15; 14:17-19; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Ephesians 6:15

[xxxiii] See George D. Watt, ed.,, Journal of Discourses 15, p. 379; Sheri L. Dew, “Living on the Lord’s Side of the Line,” Brigham Young University devotional, March 21, 2000

[xxxiv] John 14:27

[xxxv] 4 Nephi 1:15-17

[xxxvi] 3 Nephi 12:10

[xxxvii] D&C 59:23

[xxxviii] Alma 13:18

[xxxix] See Abraham 1:2

[xl] Isaiah 59:23

[xli] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, “Son of God,” p.745

[xlii] 3 Nephi 12:10-12

[xliii] 2 Timothy 3:12

[xliv] 1 Nephi 8:26

[xlv] 1 Nephi 11:36

[xlvi] 1 Nephi 13:5

[xlvii] 1 Nephi 13:7

[xlviii] Psalms 10:2

[xlix] See Mosiah 4:17

[l] See Jacob 2:13, 20

[li] 2 Nephi 28:13

[lii] Jacob 2:5

[liii] James 4:4

[liv] D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner, Verse by Verse: The Four Gospels, p.173

[lv] Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, p.56-57