Summary: Spiritually speaking, your attitude determines the depth of your faith and how passionate you are about your convictions.
Tonight we look at the first of the beatitudes. READ Matthew 5: 1-3. For the next 8 weeks we’re going to be talking about the Christian attitude. When I think of how a true Christian should act I think of Philippians 2:5 – “Your attitude should be the same as Christ.” A person’s attitude determines their altitude. Spiritually speaking, your attitude determines the depth of your faith and how passionate you are about your convictions.
Twin boys were giving their mother fits because one was an optimist while the other was a pessimist. At her wits end, she took them to the doctor desperate for help. The doctor had a plan that put the pessimist in a room with everything he could wish for and the optimist in a stall of horse manure. At the end of the day he was certain both would be cured. But when he checked on the pessimist, instead of enjoying the toys, the boy was crying because he knew he wouldn’t be able to take the toys home. Then, when they got to the stall, they found the optimist covered with mature, slinging it and yelling in excitement – “With all this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”
Our attitude determines our altitude. In Mt. 5, Jesus speaks to the issue of attitude in the greatest sermon ever preached – the Sermon on the Mount. He offered (8) attitudes (beatitudes) that every Christian is called to possess as a child of the Kingdom. The first (4) focus on our relationship with God, while the second (4) focus on our relationship with one another. (By the way, that’s the same pattern of the 10 commandments, and the same pattern of Jesus’ 2 extra commandments.)
Concerning our church covenant, we need to have the right attitude as we approach it. Without the right attitude, we might not take the covenant seriously. And we do take the church covenant very seriously.
You might have noticed that each of the 8 beatitudes begins with the word “blessed.” In fact, God makes a promise that those who possess the beatitudes will be blessed. Let’s first look at that promise.
The word “Blessed” literally means fortunate and happy. Typically we think of happiness as an experience of elation when things around us make us feel that way, but this in not what Jesus was saying. The Greek word used for “blessed” means to have an inward contentedness unaffected by surrounding circumstances. It means God looks at you individually and you have been approved by God.
Max Lucado says, “To be blessed is to receive the Applause of Heaven.”
Here is how the beatitudes work. First, we recognize we’re in need (poor in spirit). Next, we repent of our self-sufficiency (mourn). We quit calling the shots and surrender control to God (meek). So grateful are we for His presence that we yearn for more of Him (hunger and thirst). As we grow closer to Him, we become more like Him. We forgive others (merciful). We change our outlook (pure in heart). We love others (peacemakers). We endure injustice (persecuted). And in so doing, we receive the applause of Heaven.
We need to realize the beatitudes are essential elements Christians must have to have a balanced, healthy Christian life. We need to live by these beatitudes and exemplify them in our daily living. When we do, we are promised God’s approval.
But do you really want God’s approval and blessing more than anything else?
Let’s look at the first attitude Jesus said we must possess to be blessed. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Mt. 5:3
The word “poor” is a reference to a destitute beggar. It’s someone who has absolutely nothing and is an outcast to society. It’s one who has a hand out for alms while the other hand covers his face because of shame.
In the Greek, there are two words for begging. The woman who brought Jesus the two coins in Luke 21 was one type of poor. She was poor, but she wasn’t a beggar – she had some meager resources. But one who is poor as Jesus uses the term in Matt. 5:3 has nothing and is completely dependent upon others for support. Now Jesus is speaking to our spiritual need – we are all destitute before God and in need of God’s help to experience forgiveness and eternal life.
When you realize that you are “poor in spirit,” you recognize how spiritually destitute and utterly dependent you are upon God. It’s to understand that we have no saving resources and that we can only beg for His mercy and grace because we are spiritually destitute. It’s to consciously confess how unworthy we are to God because we realize we’ve missed the mark and fallen short of God’s perfect standard. In other words, we’re sinners.