Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

The Beattitudes are nine principles that govern kingdom life. If these principled are practiced they will lead to happiness. Jesus did not share them randomly but in perfect sequence. In the beattitudes and the other teachings of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, there is nothing that requires supernatural power. We think of the life of Jesus as being unique and it was but this has lead us into a false belief: that false belief is that we cannot obey Jesus teaching. He was the Son of God and we cannot live up to His standard. Whereas we cannot be perfect as He was perfect: we can do the things He taught us. He would not have taught them had He not known that we would be able to do them.

G.K. Chesterton once said–“Christianity has no so much been tried and found wanting as it ahs been found difficult and left untried.” Have you really tried to follow the model that Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount and by His own example? Dallas Willard has put together a good list of the spiritual disciplines that Jesus taught and practiced. Most of them are found in this one 13 minute sermon.

  • Solitude
  • Silence
  • Fasting
  • Frugality
  • Secrecy
  • Study
  • Sacrifice
  • Worship
  • Celebration
  • Ministry
  • Prayer
  • Fellowship
  • Confession
  • Submission





[Use John 13 and footwashing as illustration]

He begins with humility because it is foundational to all the other principles or attitudes. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The word poor here means absolute poverty. It describes a person who has nothing. We think of the poor as those having less but the poor that Jesus is talking about have nothing. Like a beggar, they are destitute, powerless and helpless. [Max Lucado quote]

The poor in spirit realize their spiritual bankruptsy. They sense their destitution and know that they have nothing to offer God. They have no illusion that salvation can be bought or earned. The poor is spirit are not– Self-reliant, self-confident, self-centered, or self-sufficient. The poor in spirit are conscious of their sin and they know that Salvation has to be by grace.

The poor in spirit realize that even our assets are liabilities before God. The Prodigal Son did not get blessed until he got broke. We he came to his senses, he realized that his father had everything and that he had nothing. He returned home broke. He had not one thing to offer his father. The only think he could give him was surrender of himself.

Jesus began with HUMILITY because humility is foundational to everything we do in the kingdom of God. It is basic to every Christian virtue. Moses taught ten principles [Ten Commandments], Jesus taught nine. Moses dealt mainly with external behavior but Jesus focused on the attitude of the heart. Each beattitude teaches a virtue that results in a reward. Gregory of Nyssa put the Beattitudes in the negative to give himself and other the full impact of what Jesus was saying:

Oh the misery of the proud, those who do not realize their need for Christ: they will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Oh the misery of those who are apathetic and indifferent, who do not care about the suffering of others: they will hurt someday and no one will care for them.

Oh the misery of those who have no hunger and thirst for righteousness: they will never be satisfied.

Oh the misery of those who show no mercy: someday, no mercy will be shown to them.

Oh the misery of the impure in heart; they will never see God.

Oh the misery of those who have never been persecuted for righteousness sake; they are going to miss the kingdom of God.

Oh the misery of those who have never been rediculed, mocked or slandered; they will never be truly happy.

Humility is the realization that all gifts and blessings come via the grace of God. Life begins with a gift: our mother gave us birth. The poor in spirit feel their emptiness. God can’t fill our cup if its full of pride. D.L. Moody said, “The only ones who walk away from Christ empty are the ones who are full of themselves.” Humility the key to every spiritual blessing. We cannot be saved unless we humble ourselves and become like little children. It takes humility to be a disciple, to learn from a teacher. It takes humility to serve others. Jesus humbled Himself to wash the disciples feet. At that point in their sanctification, they lacked the humility to do such a thing.

I love baseball. My favorite recreational venue is a major league baseball game. I am not a Braves fan but I like to go see them play. In baseball to score you have to touch home plate but there are some things you have to do before you touch home plate. First you have to bat and then you have to reach base safely. You cannot score without touching 1st base. Even if you hit a homerun, you have to touch 1st base. You can’t hit one off the wall and run straight to 2th, you have to go by first and tough it as you go. In the kingdom of God, HUMILITY is 1st base.

Think about the kind of world we would live in if every person was poor in spirit, if everyone was humble. James the brother of Jesus said, What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers!  Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”

When we become aware of our spiritual poverty, we become concerned about our sin and the suffering that sin causes to others. We become comforters and that leads us to meekness. We serve others in a spirit of lowliness without regard to our own rights or wishes. This leads to to be hungry: to want more of Christ and this leads to us being merciful and compassionate. Then we take the giant step upward to purity of heart. We not only want to do right, we want to thing right thoughts. We want to be people of integrity. Then we graduate to peacemaking. You cannot be a peacemake without pure motives [pure in heart], without showing mercy, meekness or humility. Notice the upward progression:

  • Humility
  • Concern over sin and others
  • Meekness
  • Spiritual Hunger/Thirst
  • Showing Mercy
  • Pure Motives
  • Peacemaking
  • Praise when persecuted
  • Blessedness

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