INTRODUCTION: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). This idea, along with so many others in the Bible, seems so foreign to the modern mind. How can poverty in any form be good?
This is especially true when we understand that the word here for blessed literally means, "happy, supremely blessed." How can we be poor and still happy?
I. SOME MISCONCEPTIONS CONCERNING THIS PASSAGE
A. Some equate physical poverty with being pleasing to the Lord.
1. There is no special righteousness in being poor, neither is there a special sinfulness in the possessing of riches.
2. While it is often easier for the poor (because of their lack of being fettered by the cares of the world that comes from wealth) to be saved than the rich, it is certain that there will be rich who dwell in Heaven and poor who will dwell in the depths of Hell.
B. Some believe that a false modesty and self-abasement are the fulfillment of being poor in spirit.
1. Jesus never recommended monasticism (i.e., the complete abasement of the human body and retreat from society). In fact Jesus contrasted the practices of Him and His disciples with that of John.
a. Matthew 11:18,19 - "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."
2. The Bible tells us that we are to be part of society, although we are to be different from the sinfulness of the world.
a. John 17:14, 15 - "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
b. 1 Corinthians 5:9,10 - "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world."
3. We also can become conceited in our humility that we become "humble and proud of it."
4. The Lord is also not talking about those who would mentally flagellate themselves and have a "poor me" attitude. Christianity is a positive religion that declares, "with God for us we will be victorious.
a. Romans 8:31 - "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"
II. WHAT THEN DOES IT MEAN TO BE "POOR IN SPIRIT?"b. Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
A. It is a person that has spiritual poverty.
1. This the person who realizes that he or she cannot save themselves, that they are without an ability to glorify themselves.
2. The spiritually poor have a keen sense of their own sinfulness and need for God's grace.
3. "This poverty of spirit is a prerequisite to acquiring the other beatitudes. Spiritual beggars who have abandoned pride and self-sufficiency and who rely totally on God for support are in a position to inculcate the mournful, meek, hungry, merciful, pure, and peaceful disposition suggested by the other beatitudes" (1988 Spiritual Sword Lectures).
B. Some examples of this kind of personality in the Word of God.
1. Luke 18:13 - "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."
2. The attitude of Gideon.
a. Judges 6:15 - "And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."
3. The attitude of Isaiah.
a. Isaiah 6:5 - "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
4. The Lord displayed this attitude while here on the earth.
a. John 5:30 -"I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
b. John 14:10 - "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."
5. It was the thinking of the apostle Paul.
a. Philippians 3:8 - "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"
6. It was the way of thinking of the apostle Peter.
a. Luke 5:8 - "When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
C. We can gain an even more thorough understanding of what the Lord is telling us by look at some negative examples.
1. Look at the same example that we first cited, the publican. He is contrasted with a Pharisee. Read what the pharisee said and Jesus' commentary of both of them.
a. Luke 18:11-12, 14 - "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess . . . I tell you, this man (the publican) went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
2. Luke 12:16-20 (the rich farmer)
III. WHAT IS THE GREAT REWARD FOR THE POOR IN SPIRIT? "THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."a. Daniel 4:30-31 "The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee."
A. They possess the qualities that are prerequisites for membership in Christ's kingdom, the church.
1. Matthew 18:3-4 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
2. It takes an attitude of complete spiritual poverty to accept God's plan of salvation.
a. Ephesians 2:7-9
B. These will inherit that eternal kingdom as well.
1. James 4:6 "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."
CONCLUSION: “What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God” -- Monica Baldwin. It is only through the humility of spiritual poverty that we can draw close to God and truly enjoy life as He wants us to.2. Those who are prideful and self-sufficient could never hope to enjoy the blessings of Heaven. They would never accept that they were sinners in need of a savior, never accept the need to obey God in God's way, and never accept the fact that without God they could do nothing. Thus, they will never enjoy a Heaven filled with sinners cleansed by the blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5).
Copyright 1999 by Grady
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