Summary: Sermon one of a series through the beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5. Theme: God favors people who depend upon Him for their lives.
The Poorer the Richer
Rev. Sean Lester
January 4, 2004 Morning Service
Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (ESV)
This is the first statement that Jesus makes in what we have come to call the Sermon on the Mount. As we begin this first message on the "Blessed Life", let’s examine carefully what Jesus is saying in this verse.
A. God blesses people. Blessed is what happens when God does something for someone that makes them happier, more content, and better able to handle things in this life. It is the state of mind of someone whom God has favored.
B. God blesses people for a reason. There is a pattern to how Jesus describes blessed people. He says "Blessed are" (fill in the blank) "for they are/will be (fill in the blank). There is a relationship between whom God blesses with things and the nature of their spiritual character. God looks at people and notices things about them. Some people have characteristics that please God. In turn, he shows his approval by doing favors. In this case, he gives the kingdom of heaven as a favor to people who are poor in spirit.
C. God blesses people who are poor in spirit. By poor, we mean someone who has absolutely nothing. We are not talking about people who live below the poverty line. People who live below the poverty line are not really poor, they are modest. Poor people have nothing. They are the beggars who eat only when someone gives them something to eat that day. If a few days should pass without anyone giving them something to eat, they will die. That is poor.
D. "In spirit" refers to someone’s attitude or disposition toward God. When it is said that a person has a spirit of lust, we mean that the person has rejected God as the source of happiness and it is being manifested in sensual gratification. When it is said that a person has a spirit of peace, we mean that the person trusts God for protection and it is manifested in the way the person remains calm during a crisis.
E. Therefore, the poor in spirit are those people who come to God out of a need for him to give them what they need for life. The way they see it, if God does not fill their spirit, they will not be filled at all. Their lives are in Christ Jesus, and nothing else.
F. When we speak of the Kingdom of heaven, we refer to the Holy Spirit that comes into the believer. The Kingdom of God is described in Matthew chapter 13, but I will sum it up here as...
1. The ability to understand and obey the Bible.
2. Reservation for heaven and preservation from God’s wrath.
3. Heavenly perspective of the world.
6. The power to transform a society.
When Solomon became king of Israel, God offered him anything that he wanted. Instead of wealth and power, Solomon asked for wisdom. God granted his request. However, with wisdom came the ability to have everything else. That is how it works for the poor in spirit. By depending on God for everything, the poor in spirit are given the kingdom of God.
Proposition: People who depend upon God to give them life are given the kingdom of God.
Interrogative: I want to show you from Scripture how people manifested the characteristic of being poor in spirit, and in so doing, show you how to become poor in spirit.
Transition: Here are three ways that spiritual poverty is manifest.
I. Daily Dependence Upon God.
A. When the Israelites left Egypt, they took with them the riches that God allowed them to take as plunder. Yet, with all of the things that are considered of monetary worth, they had no ability to feed or water themselves. No amount of money can help someone who has no food or water. They were cash rich, but destitute for life. If they were going to live more than a few days, God would have to provide for them. And, He did.
God provided them manna, food that would appear every morning, six days a week. The people were to gather only what was needed for that day. Anything left over till morning would be moldy and full of worms the next morning. Then, on the day before the Sabbath, they were allowed to gather twice as much so that they would not have to gather any on the Sabbath. In this way, God was teaching the people to depend on Him for their daily needs.
B. God’s provision for the Israelites is an illustration for us who would be poor in spirit.