"POOR IN SPIRIT"
Intro. Jesus was speaking in Aramaic which was the kind of Hebrew that the people spoke in His day. The Hebrew and Aramaic had a common saying "Oh the blessedness." This is the word that David used in the first Psalm. "Oh the blessedness of the man that walks not in the council." In each of the beatitudes Jesus begins "O the blessedness." Today we might translate it, "Oh the sheer bliss." The Greek word for blessed is makarios which was used to describe the gods, so the idea was O the godlike happiness.
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY POOR IN SPIRIT? IN THE GREEK THERE ARE TWO WORDS FOR POOR. THE ONE USED IN THE TEXT IS PTOCHOS THE OTHER GREEK WORD FOR POOR IS PENES. PENES WAS USED FOR THE MAN WHO HAD TO WORK FOR A LIVING. HE HAD ENOUGH TO GET BY ON, BUT NO REAL SURPLUS. PTOCHOS WAS ABSOLUTE AND ABJECT POVERTY. THE ROOT WORD IS TOSSEIN WHICH IS TO CROUCH OR COWER, SO IT WAS A MAN WHO WAS BEATEN TO HIS KNEES BY HIS POVERTY. HE WAS SO POOR THAT HE HAD TO PUT HIS WHOLE TRUST ON GOD. OH HOW HAPPY IS THE MAN WHO IS SO POOR THAT HE HAS TO PUT HIS WHOLE TRUST IN GOD.
A. It is not as some translate it, "Blessed in spirit are the poor."
1. Being poor does not of itself make a person blessed in spirit.
a. I have met many poor people who were bitter and mean.
b. They often feel that the world owes them something and they feel justified in their thievery.
2. Jesus is not saying that people that live in poverty in ghettos are especially blessed.
a. A part of the ministry of the gospel is to alleviate the suffering of those living in those kinds of conditions.
3. This verse has nothing to do with a person's bank account.
B. The opposite to poor in spirit is proud.
1. God hates pride.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek [after God]: God [is] not in all his thoughts.
The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
2. A proud look tops the list of the seven things that God hates.
3. Through the prophet Jeremiah God tells us that He is against the proud.
4. James wrote that God resists the proud.
5. Paul lists the things that are opposite to what it is to be poor in spirit.
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
C. Being poor in spirit is not something that a person is naturally.
1. We are not talking about human temperaments. We are not talking about a person who is an introvert, who is naturally retiring.
2. Sometimes people are proud because they are so humble.
a. "I'm just willing to take the back seat."
b. "I am the man who just carries the bags."
c. "I am just a nobody."
d. They are constantly demeaning themselves.
e. As Shakespere said, "Thou protestest too much."
D. Remember we are talking about the characteristics that mark the citizens of the kingdom of God.
1. These characteristics are not admired by the world.
2. The world places value on opposite kind of traits.
a. Blessed is the go getter.
b. Blessed is the man that asserts himself.
c. Blessed is the man that brags about himself.
d. Blessed is the man who is self-confident.
e. Blessed is the man with high self-esteem.
E. Poor in spirit is not something that you can become by effort or decision.
1. A person cannot say, "I have decided to be poor in spirit."
2. There is no ten step program to make you poor in spirit.
3. It is the result of the work of God's Spirit in a persons life.
4. Paul said, "By the grace of God I am what I am."
II. POVERTY OF SPIRIT IS THE RESULT OF A TRUE ENCOUNTER WITH GOD.
A. You see a person that is proud, that person has never truly met God.
B. Pride often comes by comparing ourselves with others, seeing ourselves in the light of others.
1. I am cleaner than he is.
2. I am smarter than he.
3. If I measure myself by others, I am not too bad off.
4. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
5. That was the problem with the Pharisee in Luke 18
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
C. Poverty of spirit comes from seeing myself in the light of God.
1. There was probably not a purer man who ever lived than Daniel.
a. It would seem that all of the Bible hero's had their flaws, Moses, David, Peter,
b. The Bible is such an honest book in it never sought to gloss over a man's shortcomings. It reported a man as he was warts and all.
c. Daniel is one of the few of which the Bible had nothing to say in a detrimental way concerning his character.
d. Daniel when he saw the vision declared,
Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
2. Isaiah had a vision of God that he records in chapter 6.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
a. His reaction to that vision is expressed,
Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
3. Peter when he truly realized who Jesus was said,
When Simon Peter saw [it], he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
C. With each one, when they saw God they saw the truth about themselves, perhaps for the first time.
1. Trying to see yourself in the mirror in a dark room will not reveal the truth about you.
2. Seeing yourself in the light of the noon day sun, you get an entirely different picture.
3. Long ago I stopped looking at myself in the bright sunlight.
III. POVERTY OF SPIRIT AS MANIFESTED IN THE BIBLE.
A. Abraham when he was interceding with God for the city of Sodom,
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes:
B. In Jacob when he was in great fear at the news that his brother Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men, he cried to the Lord,
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
C. In Job who had been defending himself of the charges that were being made by his friends, but was finally challenged by God,
Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes.
D. By the Roman Centurian when he heard that Jesus was coming to his house to heal his servant.
Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
E. By the prodigal son when he had finally come to himself and returned to his father's house.
And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
F. The church of Laodicia was saying of themselves, "We are rich, we are increased with goods, we have need of nothing." that is the opposite of poor in spirit. The Lord said of them, "You are poor, wretched, naked, miserable and blind."
G. It is important that our view of ourselves matches His view of us.
IV. "FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."
A. Only those who are poor in spirit will ever enter the kingdom of heaven.
1. In a few verses Jesus will be saying concerning the proud scribes and pharisee's "Except your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisee's you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."
B. Those who have had a true encounter with the Lord are the only ones that are truly poor in spirit.
1. Because of my recognition of my complete spiritual bankruptcy I have been driven to my knees knowing that I have nothing to offer to God.
2. "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling."