Beatitude 1: Are the Poor in Spirit Poor?
A Major Paradigm Shift from the Old Testament
In this sermon, Jesus presented to his disciples the way to live according to the principles of the Kingdom of God. Jesus introduced a major paradigm shift from the understanding of the Old Testament. It was a new way of looking at our spiritual walk and our relationship with God.
To appreciate the Beatitudes fully, we must remember that Jesus was not talking to born-again believers but to people with an Old Testament indoctrination.
In the Old Testament, the focus was mostly on the physical world. The Jews perceived spiritual things through their physical senses. Now, Jesus shifted the focus from the physical to the spiritual, from obeying external laws to attitudes that God wants us to have, from material things to life experiences.
A Point Form Summary of New Concepts
The Beatitudes are a quick introduction to this new way of thinking. They are a point form summary of many new concepts and ideas Jesus will expand on later. They also have to agree with all the other Scriptures of the New Testament.
Interpreting the Beatitudes
Because they are a concise summary, the Beatitudes are simplifications of more complex concepts and we must interpret them in light of other Scriptures in the New Testament. Taken in isolation, the Beatitudes can be confusing and even lead to wrong conclusions.
Although the Beatitudes focus on attitudes, they produce results and blessings both in the spiritual and in the physical dimension. The attitudes themselves are not the blessing, but they produce blessings in the life of those who have the corresponding attitudes.
Each beatitude is superficially a paradox. The attitude referred to in each case was not perceived as a blessing. However, Jesus shows that the usual perception based on appearances can be misleading. In a way, Jesus used the paradox to shock the hearer into attention and to reinforce the impact of his message.
The Key to Interpret the Beatitudes
The beatitudes are the principles of walking in the kingdom of God. Jesus walked in the kingdom of God. Therefore, the key to interpreting properly the Beatitude is that each attitude and blessing must be evident and demonstrated in Jesus’ life.
Who Can Experience the Blessings?
The Beatitudes also apply to us to the extent that we are like Him, that we have the Spirit of Christ in us. Only those who are like Him can experience the blessings of the Beatitudes.
THE BLESSING OF THE POOR IN SPIRIT
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
DEFINING THE POOR IN SPIRIT
Poor in the spirit, not someone lacking money.
Poverty is not a virtue, neither is wealth. These are only physical things. The problem the Word of God associated with money is within us, with the love we have for money (1Timothy 6:10).
Here, Jesus is not referring to physical things. The poor in spirit are those who realize that they lack something in their spirit.
This lack is not just a sense of inadequacy or insecurity. These attitudes produce torment not blessings.
The poor in spirit are those who realize that they need God and without God, they are lost.
Nevertheless, even this realization is not enough.
To be effective, the sense of needing God must be accompanied by the belief that God is reachable. If we do not have this belief, we will fall in despair.
SCRIPTURES ABOUT ASPECTS OF BEING POOR IN SPIRIT
Many Scriptures describe different aspects of being poor in spirit. .
A Humble Spirit Rather than a Prideful Spirit
A man’s pride will bring low, but the humble in spirit will retain on. (Proverbs 29:23)
Contrite Heart and Reverent to the Word of God
For all those things my hand has made, and all those things exist, says the Lord but on this one will I look: on him who and of a contrite spirit, and will trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)
Humble and Child-like Trusting Rather than Self-Exaltation
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:13–17)
Not Trusting in Our Wealth
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24)
HOW JESUS WAS POOR IN SPIRIT
Jesus perfectly demonstrated how to be poor in spirit. He depended on the Father. He did nothing of Himself but did only what He saw the Father do (John 5:19, 30). Jesus was in communion with God and dependent on God in everything. For this reason, He experienced the blessing—He continuously lived in the Kingdom of God.
HOW WE BECOME POOR IN SPIRIT
Those who walk as Jesus did are blessed. However, we cannot do that naturally because we are born separated from God.
Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The poor in spirit realizes that he needs a Savior and calls on God for help, will call on the name of the Lord and will become born-again.
WALKING IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
In John 3:3 we read that Jesus answered to Nicodemus, one of the leaders of the Jews, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born-again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus found it difficult to shift his perception to the spiritual dimension and started to talk about returning to the mother’s womb. Then Jesus continued in his instructions, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh in that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Therefore, the person who is poor in spirit is the one who will be born-again and thus enter the Kingdom of God.
Our spiritual attitude produces our actions and our blessings both spiritually and physically.
As he walks in the Kingdom of God, the poor in spirit can say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
If you examine yourself, can you say that you are poor in spirit? Do you depend on God for the choices you make or follow your own plans? Do you trust Him? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord? Are you born-again?
All these things go together. You can start living a life of blessings and experience the Kingdom of God right now as you take a step in faith and embrace the truth in this beatitude. When you learn to depend on God, you discover that being poor in spirit does not degrade you but rather empowers you as a child of God and a citizen of His kingdom.
If your answer is no to any of these questions, you can make a decision today and start the wonderful, blessed life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10).
Let me know about your experience, if this post helped you or if you would like any help to enter into this experience.
May the Lord bless you!
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