Summary: What does it mean to be poor in Spirit?
Poor in Spirit
The Beatitudes – Attitudes to Live By
On a visit to the Beethoven museum in Bonn, a young American student became fascinated by the piano on which Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works. She asked the museum guard if she could play a few bars on it; she accompanied the request with a lavish tip, and the guard agreed. The girl went to the piano and tinkled out the opening of the Moonlight Sonata. As she was leaving she said to the guard, "I suppose all the great pianists who come here want to play on that piano."
The guard shook his head. "Padarewski [the famed Polish pianist] was here a few years ago and he said he wasn't worthy to touch it."
Having an attitude of not being good enough to do something is probably not an attitude that is going to get you far in today’s business world. There, having confidence in yourself and your abilities is something that is often rewarded.
And while we don’t want arrogant people, we do want people who have a surety of themselves and are go getters and willing to keep striving to achieve.
But often times, because this attitude of self confidence is valued in our culture, a proper understanding of our abilities can often lead to an attitude of overconfidence in ourselves or, at a minimum, a misplaced confidence in our ability to accomplish something.
This morning, we are beginning a new series in the beatitudes called
Attitudes to Live By
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with 8 paradoxical sayings that stressed the blessedness of those who lived with these attitudes or outlook on life.
They were completely counter to what the people of the day would have thought.
Many looked at outward circumstances, much as we do today, to determine if a person was blessed or not. And while there are some translations that will use the word happy in the place of blessed, and there is some sense in which that is true, but I believe that the word happy in our culture really describes more our outward feeling.
Jesus isn’t so much seeking to describe our outer feelings, but rather an inner attitude of how we live and He is saying that those who live with this attitude, this focus, are blessed. Not blessed meaning constantly happy, but blessed meaning that you have and can experience God’s approval.
If you have ever experienced the approval of someone you love and respect, you understand that joy that comes along with their approval.
I believe that is what Jesus is meaning by ‘blessed’ here.
So for example the first couple of beatitudes could be translated as this.
Having and experiencing God’s approval are those who are poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Having and experiencing God’s approval are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Over the course of this series we are going to examine each of these sayings of Jesus to seek to
better understand what He is saying and
look into our own heart and ask God to help us live with this inner attitude
so that we may have and experience the blessing of God’s approval and bring glory to Him.
This morning we are going to consider the first beatitude. We will first take a look at what it doesn’t mean and then see what it does mean and see if there are ways as we go through life that we can test ourselves and determine if we living with this attitude or outlook on life.
So let’s begin by reading Matthew 5:1-12
1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.