Blessed are the Poor In Spirit - Why is this Important?

Blessed are the Poor In Spirit - Why is this Important? [TRANSCRIPT]

Isaiah 6:4
Then I said, “Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of armies.”

Isaiah 66:2
“For My hand made all these things, So all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But I will look to this one, At one who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at My word.

Isaiah 57:15
For this is what the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, says: “I dwell in a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.

Psalm 51:15-17
Lord, open my lips, So that my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Here at the beginning of the Beatitudes Jesus speaks of a fundamental and foundational characteristic of the follower of God. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” And why does it matter?

It is said that contrast is the best tool for clarity. To see something clearly, sometimes the best way to do that is to put it against a contrasting background and then you can see the most vital details.

The same can be said for ideas or concepts.

In Luke 2:14, the Gospel writer records a prophetic word concerning the baby child Jesus. Simeon declares, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and the rise of many in Israel.” The prophet said that Jesus would shake up the nation and in fact the world. This Savior would cause “the falling and rising of many.” This falling and rising is not only a contrast of two different groups as they responded to the coming of Jesus. But in fact, this falling and rising is also a picture of each individual as they come to the One who can save them.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Poor in spirit… a lowering.
Blessedness … a rising… a heavenly kingdom.

There are two sides to the recipients of the Gospel. There is a pulling down and there is a rising up.

As we begin moving through the Beatitudes, I want you to understand what Jesus is laying out. To repeat what I said before, this sermon is not a set of moral goals for a person to measure their rightness with God. It is not a behavioral checklist to show a persons’ goodness.

Jesus is describing the characteristics that belong within His followers. And in these Beatitudes Jesus is laying the foundation of what is found in such a follower. And as you would expect, He starts at the beginning. And as we move through each of the Beatitudes, we will see the sequential movement in the character of the believer’s journey.

By starting here with “poor in sprit” Jesus is saying that this is a necessity for everything that follows. There is no entry into the His kingdom apart from being “poor in spirit.” It is a fundamental characteristic of the citizen of His kingdom. All the others that follow are in a sense a result of this one realized sense…. being Poor in spirit.

So, what is it?

To begin with, is concerns the inward part of us “spirit.” It ultimately is concerned a person’s inward attitude towards themselves.

Let me begin by looking at what it is NOT describing. Poor in Spirit is NOT:

Timid Wildflower – This is not describing a person who is nervous, retreating, weak or someone lacking in courage. Remember, now of the Beatitudes is describing natural or born tendencies.

The world may overhear “poor in spirit” and assume a person who is shy standing in the background. And in contrast to its attitude of self-assertiveness, self-confidence, and self-expression and reacts with, “I’m not like that at all.

Poor in spirit is not describing a naturally shy or withdrawn personality.

Proud to be Humble – What illustrates this is the Uriah Heep personality who never fails to declare their humility. “Oh, I’m just an unimportant nobody. I don’t really matter. I’m simply an humble servant.

NO, this isn’t what is meant by “poor in spirit.” Remember, this is an inward description not some outward display, which in a sense merely spot lights ME.

Hiding Who We Are – Poor in spirit is not a description of a suppressed life or personality. It is from this interpretation that come ideas of a monistic discipline or lifestyle.

I want you to notice something. In each of these the focus is on the natural self. All of them have a display of humility but it’s focus is on a self-focus.
 
Now, don’t get me wrong, “Poor in spirit” has the self is in view because it ultimately involves a person’s attitude towards themselves. But it is not in a contrast to others around me. It is not how I compare this person or that person. It’s not even how I compare to how I want to strive to be.

No. The comparison is with and in respect to One and only One, to God.

The citizen of God’s kingdom is the one who standing before God sees clearly down to their inner being a poverty in light of the One they stand before.

Illustrations of such a spirit is seen in the Scriptures.

Moses – hears God’s call and sensed an unworthiness, very conscious of his insufficiency and inadequacy.

The Prophet Isaiah – Isa. 6:4 “Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of armies.

Peter – a man naturally aggressive and self-assertive saying, “Depart form me; for I am a sinful man, O, Lord.

What does “poor in spirit” mean?

It’s the honest assessment of a persons’ situation standing before God. They have nothing to bring, nothing to offer before the True and Living God. They come as a sinful individual, bankrupt of anything to deal with the problem standing between them and a Holy God. They know this truthfully, inwardly, honestly.

It’s called Humility. Brought low, now God can redeem them and bring them up, make them whole.

Actually, no one says more clearly than what God records in His word.

Isaiah 66:2
“For My hand made all these things, So all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But I will look to this one, At one who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

The Lord of heaven looks down and sees His people. They are persons who are humble and contrite of spirit.

Isaiah 57:15
For this is what the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, says: “I dwell in a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite."

The Holy One revives the heart of those who come humbly to Him.

Psalm 51:15-17
Lord, open my lips, So that my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.

The Lord isn’t looking for persons who are self-satisfied with their own achievements. No one has anything of values to bring to God to please Him. There is only one thing that pleases God. It is a heart broken over their condition. They come to the One who can heal them. Come in this manner and God will not reject you.

It was the time for prayer in the Temple. People gather outside in the outer courts, preparing to going inside the Temple to pray.

There are 3 blasts of trumpets announcing the time of the morning prayer. Priests begin by offering prayers. Prescribed preparations are made at the altar for the sacrifice. Lots are cast for the burning of the incense. By lot one priest is chosen and approaches the altar.
A large instrument called the “Magrephah” is struck. This calls all the priests to worship.
Slowly the priest to burn the incense and it ascends along with the smoke of the sacrifice.
Word is given that “the time of incense had come.” They see the smoke and pray.

Jesus said, two men entered the Temple to pray, a Pharisee and a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood and began praying this in regard to himself, “God I thank You that I am not like other people, swindlers, adulterers, or even this tax collectors….” He then lists his achievements.

“But the tax collector , standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner!”

 Two individuals standing in the shadow of the smoke rising from the sacrifices offered.
One declares his own sufficiency.

The other cries out and basically says, “God, may the sacrifice that has been made, bring Your mercy to me.”

One of these went away from there made right with God.

Brought low. Raised up
Blessed are the poor in spirit. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Every true child of God starts the same way.
We come humbly to God with nothing.
He alone provides what is required.
He raises us up redeemed, forgiven, a child of His kingdom. Blessed, happy, free.
That’s the truth of it.
It’s the Truth that Matters.

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