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Summary: A backwards look at how the poor are blessed. Part 2 of 9

October 5, 2008

Blessed are the Poor

Matthew 5:1-3

One Sunday after worship was over a little boy told the pastor, “When I grow up, I’m going to give you some money. The pastor replied, “Well, thank you, but why?”

“Because my daddy says you’re one of the poorest preachers we’ve ever had.”

Being poor, ooh, nobody wants to go there, do they? Nobody really wants the word POOR to be associated with their name and way of living. We may romanticize what it would be like to be poor, but let me tell you I have not met anybody who endured poverty, and would like to go back to the good ‘ol days and enjoy poverty once again.

Poverty isn’t pretty. We seek to escape it, not to embrace it. Poverty may look good on some saint, like Saint Francis, but it is not one of our life goals. As we think about poverty, or being poor, consider for a few minutes the current plight in our country.

On Monday the Dow Jones went down 777 points, almost 10% of its value. In the past year, the Dow has decreased by just under 30%. That means if you’re pretty normal – your savings, investments and retirement plans have decreased by about that much. Maybe more, maybe less. Either way, I’m not sure who is making money? But I can tell you one man who is, or who did.

If your familiar with the bank Washington Mutual, they hired a new CEO, Alan Fishman on September 8th, he received a signing bonus of $7.5 million.

Then on September 25th, JP Morgan was the lucky winner in purchasing Washington Mutual; and Alan Fishman was out of job. He was CEO for 17 days, and gets to keep $7.5 million for his efforts. Not bad. Oh, but it didn’t end there, because you see, Fishman also received a severance package and received an additional $11.6 million. All together, Fishman earned $19.1 million. I would have been happy to close the bank for only 10% of that. Think of all the money they would have saved. I don’t begrudge Fishman, hey if they want to pay you, who’s going to turn down that kind of money.

And that is the first question for us this morning. . . If you were offered big bucks like that – if you were offered $11 million, because you are an expert in a field, what would you do? Would you turn the money down, and say, I’m not worth that much. Would you look these people who want to pay you and say, “thanks, but no thanks.” I don’t think most of us would do that. Of course, what we do with that money is what would make a difference. But we are not here to talk about money, well, kinda, but what does Jesus mean when he said, “BLESSED ARE THE POOR (IN SPIRIT), FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.”

I mean who wants to be poor, we all strive to be and do something better. It’s part of how we’re wired and when someone is not trying to be the best they can be, we think something is wrong with them. Who doesn’t want to better themselves?

So, what does it mean to be poor in spirit? You see, in this passage, Jesus isn’t talking about economics, He is talking about every aspect of our being - - - He’s talking about our HEART, our SPIRIT, our MIND, and our BODY. We can’t just give Him a small morsel of ourselves, it’s a striving to give all that we have to Jesus. And this is what makes this passage from Jesus so difficult. In fact, it’s what makes the Beatitudes seem counter-intuitive and backwards.

When Jesus referred to the poor, let me explain what He meant. There are 2 Greek words for POOR. The first word for poor describes a person who has to work for a living, has nothing to spare, but also is not destitute. Jesus is NOT referring to this type of poor.

The POOR Jesus is talking about literally describes a person who is reduced to begging, who is destitute of wealth, influence, position, and honor; and they’re helpless and powerless. So, when Jesus talks about the poor in spirit, we could say this, “Blessed are those who are destitute of wealth, honor, influence, position and honor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

But who wants to admit they are poor, whether it be poor in spirit, poor in money, or even poor in sports; who wants to make that admission? We tend to look at others and give them extra credit for their stylish clothes, language, looks, and knowledge; but we lose sight that these are the externals, and what Jesus is concerned with is the internal . . . THE HEART.

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