Summary: God’s favor rests on those who recognize how much they need Him. I. The Poor in Spirit Are Humble Minded II. The Poor in Spirit Are Highly Regarded III. The Poor in Spirit Are Heavily Rewarded
Living in the Father’s Favor: The Happiness of Humility
Matthew 5:3 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Intro: After the church service a little boy told the pastor, "When I grow up, I’m going to give you some money. "Well, thank you," the pastor replied. "But why?" "Because my daddy says you’re one of the poorest preachers we’ve ever had."
-Today we’re are going to talk about what God thinks about those who are poor – poor in spirit that is. In Matthew 5, Jesus begins what has been called the Sermon on the Mount with 8 descriptions of the kind of people who represent God’s family well. This is what God’s people are like. They closely resemble their father and understand who they are in light of Who He is. These descriptions are also called beatitudes. The Latin word for blessed is beatus, from which we get the word beatitude.
-Some scholars believe that this opening of the sermon was designed to shock the audience as Jesus deliberately turned what was commonly accepted upside down. Most of the shock value has been lost today because we are so familiar with the text. Perhaps the modern equivalent could be something like this: “Blessed are the losers who have nothing to say for themselves – God really favors them and rewards them with the best that He has.”
-The Message Bible puts it like this: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
-As we examine this first beatitude, we will find that poor in spirit really has its own meaning. Those who are poor in spirit know how much they need God. It is not surprising that the kingdom is theirs because the King Himself has become their King and provider. With that in mind, here is the main idea of the message:
Proposition: God’s favor rests on those who recognize how much they need Him.
Interrogative: What can we learn about being poor in spirit?
TS: Let’s look at three dynamics of some of God’s favorite people.
I. The Character of the Poor in Spirit
(The Poor in Spirit Are Humble Minded)
-The story is told of a young American student who visited the Beethoven Museum in Bonn, Germany. The student became fascinated by Beethoven’s piano that was on display there. It was a thrill to think that Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works on that piano! The student asked the museum guard if she might play a few notes on it. To help persuade the guard, she also slipped him a lavish tip. The guard agreed and the girl went to the piano and played the opening of the Moonlight Sonata. As she was leaving she said to the guard, “I suppose all the great pianists who come here want to play on that piano.” The guard shook his head and said, “Paderewski, the famous Polish pianist was here a few years ago, and he said he wasn’t worthy to touch it.”
-Poor in spirit is used figuratively, of those in special need of God’s help. The Greek word ptokos means poor, lowly, one who crouches or cringes, a beggar.
-To be poor in spirit really means to realize that we are spiritually bankrupt, that we cannot save ourselves, that we really need help!
-Being poor in spirit speaks of a faithful dependence on the Lord that poverty often produces as opposed to militant anger and force of arms that the revolutionaries in Jesus’ time thought would bring about the kingdom of God (Keener).
-It means to be small in our own eyes, like Saul was before he became King. It means to be unselfish. “Get all you can and can all you get” is not poverty of spirit, but betrays a sense of entitlement and greed. Certainly there is a place for initiative and ambition, but only in the context of complete surrender to God. The way up is down in God’s kingdom. Lord, help us to be unassuming, knowing that we are all undeserving!
-Have you ever noticed how easy it is to offend someone who is not poor in spirit? They are pretty sure that the solar system revolves around them. Therefore, whenever something is said or done that conflicts with their agenda, everybody hears about it. However, the poor in spirit are described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
-Here is a good test for each of us to take: Try and remember the last time you were wronged? The poor in spirit usually cannot, because they know they have a defender who takes care of injustices. Whenever we allow pride to creep into our lives, it often raises its ugly head by causing us to take offense at another person. Love is not easily offended and does not keep track of those offenses.