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Monday, July 23, 2012

Poor in Spirit


Matthew 5:3 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
So I want to spend some more time working on what Jesus is getting at when he tells us to be poor in spirit. The best way to do this is look at some other uses of the word poor.
Luke 16:19-20 19"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The word poor that is used here is the same word that Jesus uses in Matthew 5:3. In Luke we see that Lazarus was poor. He had nothing. It is interesting to see how it is contrasted to being rich. The rich man has much and feast everyday. The poor man longs for simply some scraps from the rich mans table. Lazarus has no means to sustain himself. He is poor.
Jesus uses it in the same sense but he is talking about spiritual poverty. He is telling us that those who are in spiritual poverty are blessed. He is telling us that those who lack their own spiritual resources are blessed. What dose this mean?
Probably the best way to do this is to look at the Biblical teaching of Pride and Humility. The Bible compares and contrast the proud and the humble. In James 4:6 it says that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The same thing is said in 1 Peter 5:5 Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
But why is this so important? What is Jesus getting at? I am convinced that he is telling us that the Kingdom of Heaven will not be populated with proud boastful people who think that they have earned their way there. The Kingdom will be full of people who know that they do not deserve to be there. When Jesus tells us that the blessed are the poor in spirit he is not telling us anything new. This is not something that the Jews would have never heard. It is a simple statement about who the people of God are. The people of God are poor is spirit.
Poor in spirit is an absence of obsession with yourself. The person who is poor in spirit dose not announce his poorness.
Being poor in spirit has to do with our relationship TO God. It is how we view ourselves in relationship TO God. When I think of myself in the presence of God, what do I think about? I think of myself as poor. I know that I am nothing in comparison to God. I know that I have nothing to offer. God and his very greatness drive me to poorness of spirit. He is great and I am not. He is the rich man and I am just hungry for the scraps off his table. When I think rightly about myself and rightly about God...I know that there is no reason why God should take notice of me at all. Nothing. No reason to notice me or bless me. He is greater than me. I am man and He is God. I am unfit for his presence. I am spiritually poor. I am but a beggar at the table of God.
Here is the other thing I want to address. The sermon on the mount dose not tell us how to do these things. It dose not tell us how to work our way into heaven. If we could actually do these things we would have a reason for boasting. We could stand before God and claim that we have followed the sermon on the mount. But going back to the first thing that is said blessed are the poor in spirit. We are poor. We cannot do any of these things. That is the starting point. We can do none of these.
It is only by coming as a beggar to Gods great table that we are blessed. We come with nothing to offer. We have nothing to give. But there is a blessing. We are blessed because we have the kingdom.
I am also convinced that this is not only the starting point to entering the kingdom, it is also where we must stay to grow. It is by being broken and poor that we are blessed. God makes his strength perfect in our weakness. As we stay poor we grow.

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