Summary: Poverty of spirit drives us to the Savior.

Series: The Sermon on the Mount

Title: The Poor in Spirit

Text: Matthew 5:3

When two people who love one another come together on the day of their wedding, there are traditional vows which are often spoken to one another.

I, take you, to be my wife... for better and for worse... in sickness and in health... for richer and for poorer.

And it is implied within these vows that you are expressing the two extremes of life.

Things are either good or the are bad.

The good things are expressed by “health and richness”

The bad things are expressed by “sickness and poorness”

Culturally, we understand that a person’s situation could be called “bad” if they are experiencing times of either physical sickness or economic distress.

Most people believe that it is good to be healthy and rich.

And it is bad to be sick and poor.

And our wedding vows demonstrate this by exposing these extremes to those who are getting married - that they are committing to be with each other through the good and the bad.

So, as a society we have concluded that being poor is akin to being sick, in that it is undesirable - it is NOT good.

Yet, the very first of the Beatitudes of Jesus expresses the blessed value of poorness.

This morning, as we continue our series with the Sermon on the Mount, we are going to examine Jesus’s words regarding the poor.

We are going to see that this often quoted beatitude is just as often misunderstood.

And we are going to seek to understand just what Jesus meant when He pronounced the blessing of the Kingdom of Heaven upon the “poor”.

READ: Matthew 5:3

One of the things which Jesus does in the sermon on the mount is that He seeks to clear up misunderstandings about the Law of God.

Throughout his discourse, following the beatitudes, He deconstructs commonly held beliefs about the Law and demonstrates the underlying truths of them all.

He says, “You ave heard it said... BUT I tell you...”

Well, beloved, this morning I plan to follow in the footsteps of my Lord.

In the same way that many people had misunderstood the Law of God, many people have also misunderstood the teachings of Jesus.

And one of the places of misunderstandings is in the Beatitudes.

In particular, this first statement of blessing, wherein Jesus mentions the “poor”.

This morning, I plan to demonstrate three things from Scripture regarding this beatitude:

The term “Poor” does not necessarily refer to economic poverty

The term “Poor” refers to being absolutely destitute of our own self-reliance

The term “Poor” is in direct opposition to the modern gospel of self-esteem

The term “Poor” does not necessarily refer to economic poverty

Although it is a very popular belief held among Roman Catholics, neo-evangelicals, modernists and socialists, the truth is that economic destitution does not necessarily make someone right with God.

There are many people who are in financial crisis who are at the same time opposed to Christ and opposed to the Gospel.

And to proclaim them righteous simply because of their poverty is not biblical, nor is it a right understanding of Jesus’s words in this beatitude.

In fact, Jesus’s words here provide for their own appropriate interpretation.

He does not simply say that the “Poor” are blessed.

He adds the qualifier, “Poor in Spirit.”

This shows us that He is not referring necessarily to economic poverty, but a different kind of poverty which is blessed by God - a poverty of the spirit.

Furthermore, throughout the Bible we find that some types of poverty are actually condemned by God.

The poor person who is poor because of his laziness is not blessed, but rather called down for their wickedness.

Proverbs 6:6–11 ESV “6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

You see, in this passage the poverty experienced by the lazy person is not a virtue, but a cursed consequence of his own unwillingness to work.

There are also those who are poor because of frivolity and excess, and the Bible condemns them too.

Proverbs 28:19 ESV “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.”

So, it is clear that simply being in poverty is not necessarily a condition of those who are blessed by God - in fact, sometimes poverty is the result of God’s judgment.

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