Summary: This message continues the series on Discipleship. It focuses on Character traits based on the beatitudes.
Discipleship Part 3: Character Traits
This morning we will continue with the character traits of a disciple. Last week I focused on how a disciple must be willing to obey Christ. I shared with you that obedience is better than any sacrifice that we can offer God. This week we will go back to Matthew chapter five and examine more closely the beatitudes. We will examine these as character traits, a way of behaving for a disciple. We will begin with verse three.
I. Poor In Spirit Trait
As I shared with you a couple of weeks ago, the word “blessed” that Jesus used throughout the beatitudes comes from the Greek word makarios and is an adjective that means “happy”. In the Old Testament the word denotes a moral quality. In the New Testament it means just what it says, happy. Revelations 14:13 speaks of the dead who died in Christ and guess what, they are now happy. As I stated a couple of weeks ago, happiness for us is based on outward circumstances that bring pleasure to us. But when Jesus chose this word, He did so because the happiness that He was speaking of comes from within based on some internal knowledge of understanding of one’s spiritual state. In verse three Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
The term poor in spirit refer to those who were virtuous yet despised and persecuted by the worldly rich. This poverty goes beyond just being poor and of the working class; it also encompasses someone who might be spiritually destitute. Jesus said that this person would be happy because theirs was the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven in this verse means the reign of God in the heart and life of the person. It was not that they had to wait until they died and got to heaven; they experience this right here on earth. Remember, Jesus often spoke of the kingdom heaven being present with them because He was with them. This character trait, poor in spirit, clashes with what is promoted in the world with its value system. The world places a lot of value on pride and personal independence. The one who is poor in spirit cannot be found walking in a lot of self pride and understands by definition that they are in need of someone. Pride and personal independence fights against obedience and a need for Christ. Pride and personal independence says that “I can make it alone; I do not need anyone.” The person who walks with God with this being part of their overall character will be rewarded with the kingdom of heaven being evident in their life here on earth. There are things that they will experience spiritually/emotionally that others who do not have this will wonder about. When others are out chasing the riches and fame, these individuals will have contentment internally as they know what truly matters to God. God will reign in the heart of these people because they are open to Him being there. If you’re wondering how you can develop this character trait, turn to James chapter four and it will tell you. James 4:7-10 records the following: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
As you read these verses, does it not conflict with what the world says? When we read these verses the thing that stands out is that we have to make the first move. The first move is to submit to God. It is hard to submit to anyone when the world teaches us to walk in pride and become independent. “I have rights and I have the right to do what I want!” This is the world’s attitude; but Jesus called us to have a different attitude. James also tells us to resist the devil. Resistance must happen at the beginning; not when you’re in the middle of the sin. When we resist; calling upon the name of the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit; he will flee. James also says that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. It is not the other way around as the world teaches us. We are taught not to chase anyone; but to wait for them to chase us or to make the first move. In our relationship with God He is waiting on us to make the first move. James also says that we should cleanse ourselves of sin and repent. Again, the ownership is on us to make the move. Finally James says that we should humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord. Being humble is not an easy thing to be in the world in which we live in.