Summary: Who are the poor in spirit, why are they blessed, and the blessing they can expect.
Are You Poor in Spirit or Just Spiritually Poor? Matt. 5:3
INTRO.: The Sermon on the Mount, of which the Beatitudes are a part, is sometimes called "The Constitution of the Kingdom." it contrasts the true nature of the Kingdom of Heaven with popular expectations, Jewish ritualism, and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives the characteristics comprising the character of a disciple and tells what rewards may be expected. He gives the meaning of true happiness as an inward reality and provides guidance toward achieving it.
Jesus says we are happy if we are poor, sad, meek, hungry, and hated. The world laughs, but we who test the teachings of Jesus find in them true and lasting happiness the world can never know.
Happiness is in our hands. Two factors determine whether we will be happy and effective: the condition of one’s heart, and one’s relationship to his fellow man. Jesus addresses both these factors in seven succinct sayings: the Beatitudes. Let’s examine the first today.
I. Who are the "poor in spirit?"
A. Jesus provides a fine illustration in Luke 18:10-14:
1. The Pharisee bragged of his accomplishments and standing before God.
2. He felt no need to ask God for anything.
3. The tax collector recognized his deep spiritual need.
4. One was spiritually poor. The other, poor in spirit.
B. This may apply to Churches as well.
1. Laodicean church was spiritually poor. Rev. 3:17
2. Sometimes even a church can forget how dependent on God they are.
3. We must be careful about spiritual pride. When we think we are rich, we may be very poor.
C. The poor in spirit are those humble folk who recognize their need of God and His grace.
1. May not be materially poor, but wealth is a hazard. Lk. 18:24, 25
2. On the other hand, Zacchaeus was wealthy, Matthew may have been.
3. There is no virtue in being materially poor, but the poor in spirit are promised a great blessing.
II. What is the reason for their blessedness?
A. We get a clue in the parable of the banquet. Luke 14:16-21
1. God calls both rich and poor. Religious leaders had first chance.
2. Leaders felt no spiritual lack, thus no need for Jesus.
3. The "poor, crippled, blind, and lame" heard Jesus gladly. They will heed God’s call.
B. They will seek God’s blessing:
1. God’s blessings come to those who seek them. Matt. 7:7, 8
2. The proud people won’t come to God for help. They feel self sufficient.
3. Many come to God only after they have been humbled by severe adversity.
C. The one who is poor in spirit will meet God’s qualification of humility. James 4:6
1. The proud person wants to befriend the world.
2. He seeks to satisfy his own lusts.
3. God can not bless a proud person. He will not permit God to bless him.
4. The humble person, poor in spirit, is qualified to receive God’s blessing.
III. What a great blessing God has promised: theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
A. James calls the poor heirs of the Kingdom. 2:5
1. He writes of the materially poor because they are poor in spirit.
2. The Church to which he wrote was sinning by favoring the rich.