BE-ATTITUDES: POOR IN SPIRIT

Matthew 5:1-3
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, along with its ideals, the Beatitudes, has widely been considered the greatest sermon ever preached by the greatest Preacher who ever would preach. The Beatitudes section of this scripture is one of the most closely examined scriptures throughout history, therefore, there are many observations that have been made about it. For me (if you’re interested), the most amazing part of the Beatitudes is how radically divergent they stand from the rest of the teachings of man. Their agenda is remarkably different than any other agenda. They teach us how we will live when Jesus becomes the Lord of our lives. It’s not that they are an expectation or commandment of behavior, rather they are a description of attitudes that one WILL possess when they are living in total submission to Jesus.

In the first of these famous Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that the poor in spirit are blessed because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. So what on earth does this mean? First, before we dive into the actual Beatitude, let’s look at the word “blessed”. It is often translated as “happy”, but please understand that it is very different than our modern view of a comfortable happiness. Barclay once described this blessedness as a joy that is not affected by the chances and changes of life. This means that the one who is walking in the will of God is bestowed upon with an inexplicable and permanent joy! How blessed we are to live within His will!

Now, on to the Beatitude. How are we to be “poor in spirit”? To be poor in spirit doesn’t mean that one has a self-deprecating ‘humility’ where they are always focusing on their own insignificance. Rather, this means the honest recognition that we are sinners and, in and of ourselves, have nothing to offer to a perfectly holy and just God. You could say it’s a genuine awareness that we are spiritually bankrupt. I believe this is the first attitude mentioned because this is the place where we all start in our walks with Christ. No listener to Jesus’ sermon could not relate to this nor could they have been discouraged, because all believers are capable of this realization. Jesus didn’t start with the “perfect in spirit” or “great in spirit” or even the “good in spirit” because every believer meekly begins in the same spot, poor in spirit!

What’s the reward for this foundational understanding that we are spiritually bankrupt? This Beatitude states that whoever recognizes that they are sinners in need of Jesus as their Savior will inherit the kingdom of God! Salvation begins at the lowest rung one can stoop, at the foot of the cross! What a picture of grace, that when we recognize our true spiritual condition, God blesses us with an inheritance that we do not deserve!

May we all be humble as we remember that we sinners are in need of a Savior and may we all be grateful as we remember the incredible grace, blessings and salvation of God!
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