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Monday, July 23, 2012

More Poor in Spirit

It's interesting how we can both read the same passage and see something so different. It seems that the teaching here really is about being poor in spirit. In fact...I think that the whole picture of that is painted shows that only the poor in spirit will be in the kingdom. I think that the text starts off with Jesus telling us what the keys to being blessed are. He is laying out a new way of thinking. He is not giving us a user manual that details every rule we must follow, but he is giving us principles for who is blessed. And he is giving us principles that are life changing. He places the focus not on any specific action, there is no do this or do that here, but he places them on attitudes. And I think that it will become clear that these attitudes lead to a very different type of life. If we really think that Jesus knows what he is talking about and we adjust the inner life, the outside life will follow. There is also a patter that links all the Beatitudes together. There is a progression of thought. The poor in spirit (v. 3) are those who have the right attitude about sin. They know that they are poor in spirit. When we see our poorness of spirit we mourn (v. 4). Morning leads to meekness(v. 5). That leads to a hunger and thirst for righteousness (v. 6)...What dose that hunger look like? It shows itself in mercy(v.7), purity of heart(v. 8), and a peaceful spirit(v. 9). A person who has those can be hated by the world for the sake of righteous and be persecuted yet they know their reward is great in heaven.(v.10-12) And if we live according to what Jesus teaches we will be the salt of the earth (v.13) and the light of the world (v.14) And the purpose of it all? So that men might see our good works and give GLORY to the Father in heaven (v.16) Let's dig into why you must be poor in spirit. You cannot get into the kingdom based on your own doing. It's not going to happen. God has a standard for us to meet. We are to be perfect. (Matt. 5:48) That is a hard standard to get too. The sooner we get to the point where we know that we cannot meet this standard, we start looking for the one who can help us get their. Proverbs 16:5 tells us that "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished." He dose not look kindly on those who are arrogant. The only way to have a right relationship with Christ is to come with nothing to offer. We must come to him poor and needy. I don't think he is teaching us that to we have to be poor in a physical sense. It's spiritual poverty. It's only those who come to God begging that are blessed. It is only that man that knows he has no resources that will be in the kingdom. This is a theme that is found throughout scripture. Isaiah 66:2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. God calls that are poor in spirit. So in that sense the poor in spirit are ONLY people that will be in the kingdom. The people who are rich in spirit are not the ones that God wants. In another sermon that I was reading about the beatitudes, the preacher used the example of Luke 18:10-13 to shed even more light on this. 10"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." V.14 shows us who is exalted...The one who humbles himself. The one who is poor in spirit. and there are many more examples of this...It seems like almost everywhere you look, you see the starting point for being blessed is being poor. But then we have to ask ourselves...What is the point of it all? What do we get out of it? We get the kingdom of heaven. And what is the larger purpose of it all? Is it me and the blessing I get? Nope...We see in v. 16 the point of it all...So that men will give glory to God. So it goes back to the idea that apart from Christ...I have nothing to offer. Nothing good, nothing nice, nothing of any worth. So I have to come begging. I have to come poor. I have to come to the only person who can give. I have to be poor in spirit to gain the kingdom. Even Romans 8 tells us that we share with HIS glory. It's not a glory that we have on our own. It dose not come from us. It is His and we will share it...but once again it is the idea that apart from God there is nothing good in is. Nothing that is worth saving. That's what I see when I read it. I would be interested in hearing more about your thoughts and knowing why you think we do have purpose and worth aside from God and his glory.

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