Matthew chapter 5:1-12 (continued)
“When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.Then He began to teach them, saying:”
“The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.
The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.
The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy.
The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.
The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.
Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
“You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For, that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
We are about to move into the heart of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus is about to say some things that will astonish just about everyone and challenge everyone to check the “man in the mirror.” This chapter begins a part of the Bible called “The Sermon on the Mount” wherein Jesus laid out some very important things that we need to have in order to live out the faith that we have in Him.
Notice that in verse 2, these lessons were for the disciples.The other listeners are going to benefit from this teaching, but this lesson is really for the disciples.It is important for us to listen to these words as they are for those of us that have accepted the Lord as Savior and have decided to “follow me.”
The Greek translation for “He began to teach” (verse 2), implies that this is an important and grave lesson; something to be carefully listened to and applied.These Beatitudes, as they are called, will be a gauge for us to measure our place in the Lord’s work and to measure whether or not we are in the right mind and have the right spirit.
In the Old Testament the people were governed by the Ten Commandments; rules that deal with the way a person was on the outside.No idol, no cursing God, obedient to parents, no lying etc.But the Beatitudes deal with the motives why we do what we do.Are we gentle people?Are we merciful people? Are we pure in heart?These base motives will then guide how we think and act.They will flow out from inside and take action.
The word for “blessed’ is a Latin word beatus. The word can be translated “really happy.”
Today we associate the idea of happiness with not having any pain, suffering or trouble.This is not what this word is trying to relay to us.Rather, it is a word that means a happiness that the pain, suffering and troubles of this world cannot take away.This kind of happiness is an inner happiness that comes from an utter dependence and reliance on God.
It is the kind of happiness that never calls into questions the character of God, no matter what else is happening in one’s life. This happiness is a present state, not one that will come in time or in the future BUT it is a happiness that we can have from God now, today in this present life. This is the idea of bringing the joy and happiness of heaven to us.
John 16:22 tells us that “no one can rob us of this joy.” This joy is not circumstantial, rather it is a state of being.Now we are not insane people blindly unaware of the pains of life.We simply accept that pains of life and our place in life are under the power, care and over sight of the Lord. Thus our joy, our happiness rests in that security.
The Poor in Spirit, Verse 3
Simply put these are people who know that they need God. Do you need God? Many folks today simply don’t really think that they need God. In Mark 2:17 Jesus said this in response to Pharisees that secretly were surprised that He would eat with sinner,
When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Society has so poisoned people with the “I’m okay, you’re okay’ philosophy that the devil has come in and taken away any sense of shame and sin.Things that used to be done in secret are now done in the open and no one is ashamed anymore.People who don’t think they are sinners will not call on God. But the poor in spirit will, they who know for sure that they have offended God and are sinner will get the kingdom of heaven as a blessing.
In Luke 18:9-14 we find this teaching from Jesus:
“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else:Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This tax collector was ‘poor in spirit’. He understood that he was a sinner and that God had every right to execute His wrath on him. He begged God for mercy and humbled himself before the Living God. For one to truly be blessed by God, to have that eternal joy/happiness that only comes from God and that transcends the trials and tests of life one must begin here, with a poor spirit.
Sadly many today do not have a poor spirit. All too many are like the Pharisee, they truly think that God owes them something. That God is indebted to them and that He is the one who is blessed to have them. Even worse, they are many saved people who have this kind of spirit. These people are not blessed by God and certainly do not live in His power.
Lastly there is large section of the modern NT church that is involved in “kingdom building” here on earth. They are building “spiritual kingdoms” here on earth where for the most part they are the god. Their faces and their abilities are the true power of the work being done. Many have millions of followers and these minions buy every book, CD and DVD that is published.
BUT, those who are truly “poor in spirit” are given the kingdom of heaven by God.God is the God of heaven, He is its face, the power and it is His 66 books that matter.Where is your kingdom? If it is on earth and if it is built by and on Man, it is already crumbling and falling apart.Rather come and be given a kingdom that cannot fail, cannot erode and can never be taken from you because no one is stronger than God.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.”
Being “poor in spirit” is the state that we remain in until we meet the Lord and are changed into our incorruptible bodies.We should never get too big for God; never think that we have arrived in this life as far as spiritual things are concerned.Even Solomon in all his wisdom served idols when he got older, forgetting who gave him his wisdom. Read 1 Kings 11:1-4 and you will see this.
It is essential that we remain the “poor in spirit” during our walk here on earth. In this we will always remember whose kingdom it really is and that we are blessed—eternally blessed to have it given to us by God. (“The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”)
“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this: ‘I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.’”
Pastor, Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church