INTRODUCTION: This week we begin looking at the substance of the
Beatitudes. Let's find out what it means to be "poor in spirit" and
why those people are blessed!
A. Have you ever wanted someone to call you
than when you or your kids were trying to get a scholarship?)
"He is a poor student." "He is a poor old man." "He follows
instructions poorly." Do you want those labels slapped on you?
1. What does
it mean to be poor (and we are not just
talking about money here)? (It means that you are lacking
A. Turn with me to Matthew 5:3. Read. This
text tells us that
those who are "poor in spirit" will have the kingdom of
1. What do you
think is meant by "spirit?" The Greek word
literally means "breath." The Bruce Cameron modern
translation is "Those who are short of breath will see
heaven." Now that makes some sense doesn't it!
a. Seriously, what does "spirit" normally refer to
in the Bible? (The Holy Spirit.)
b. Can this mean that those who are lacking ("poor")
in the Holy Spirit will own heaven? Isn't this
just the opposite of what Paul told the Corinthians
(1 Corinthians 14) in our studies last quarter?
B. There has always been a debate about how
(and whether) we
should treat different classes of people differently. We have
historically taxed the "rich" more. That seems to be "OK" (at
least to those who are not rich). "Affirmative action" has
been a plan to help those who were thought to be lacking. Our
national view seems to be changing on that. Many scholarships
(as alluded to above) are biased towards the poor. Is God, in
Matthew 5:3, endorsing affirmative action here for poverty of
1. Does God have a special interest in the poor? Does He
have a special interest in those who are lacking in any
way (not just spiritually)?
III. POOR IN SPIRIT
A. We have discussed what you thought it meant
to be "poor"
and what you think is meant by the "spirit." What do you
think Jesus meant when He referred to the "poor in spirit" in
Matthew 5:3? (Those that sense that they are lacking
1. Is there any
connection, or similarity between the
attitude of the financially poor and the poor in spirit?
(There can be. The financially poor person is likely to
realize he "lacks" something.)
a. Does poverty, of itself, produce humility? (No.
We have all seen a kind of perverse pride in some
of the poor. A proud antagonism towards those who
2. The Bible
tells us in Proverbs 10:15 "The wealth of
the rich is their fortified city,...." What do you think
that means? (Money gives them a sense of security and
protection. The rich are likely to trust in their money.
This idea of trusting in something other than God is a
frequent topic of discussion in the Old Testament. See,
Job 31:24-28; Psalms 20:7; Psalms 31:6; Psalms 44:6;
3. Is it a fatal
flaw to trust in something other than
God? (Mark 10:23-25. This is the problem for the wealthy:
trust in something other than God.)
4. I have a Catholic
friend who tells me (only half-
kidding) "I'm Catholic, Catholics don't read the Bible."
Jews, on the other hand, call themselves "the people of
the Book." I think our church would like to call itself
"the people of the Book," because Bible study is
stressed. Does that make us naturally inclined towards
spiritual arrogance? Do we trust in our "spiritual
wealth?" Are we open to "new truth?" Are we open to any
truth other than the "truth" we already have?
a. Would a church that called itself "The Remnant
Church" likely be filled with those who thought
they were "spiritually wealthy" or those who
thought they were "spiritually poor?"
b. Some churches are called "full gospel" churches,
thus implying that other churches have a "part
empty" gospel. Does this kind of name incline those
churches to spiritual arrogance? Can you be "poor"
in spirit while believing you have the "full"
gospel, or are the "Remnant Church?"
(God is looking for "students." Those who have
the idea that
they are lacking spiritually, those who are studying the Bible
for a greater understanding of who God is and who God wants
them to be. If you are a teacher, you are in danger of having
the attitude that you know something instead of having the
proper attitude that you desperately need to learn something.)
IV. ADVANTAGE: POVERTY?
A. As you consider Jesus' life, didn't He seem to cater more
to those who were "lacking" in some substantial way? Tax
collectors, prostitutes, the sick, unrefined fishermen? (See,
e.g., Mark 2:16-17)
1. Consider Luke
4:18. Jesus says He was anointed to
"preach good news to the poor," and follows this up with
a list of those who are lacking. Why did Jesus preach
especially to the poor?
2. In James 2:5
we find, "Has not God chosen those who
are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and
to inherit the kingdom He promised to those who love Him?
Is James saying that those who are literally poor are
chosen to have great faith? (If you look at the context
of this text, there can be no doubt James is talking
B. Is it your goal to "get rich?" Maybe
you have the wrong
goal! It might be better (and easier) to have your goal to
"get poor?" (Perhaps your spouse is working hard on that
C. I'm not sure we have hit this nail directly
on the head.
Does God prefer the poor? Can poverty be an advantage? (James
2:1 says that God does not show favoritism. God does not favor
the poor. However, I believe those who are poor are more open
to receive the Word. They have a need. This explains the James
A. We went right to the heart of the issue:
"What is meant by
the "poor in spirit?" We skipped the beginning and end of
Matthew 5:3. Read Matthew 5:3 again. What do you understand
"blessed to mean?"
1. Is it an emotion?
2. Is it a state?
3. Is it external?
Internal? (It seems to be both.
Strong's says (in part) the Greek means "fortunate, well
off." Thayer's says (in part) "happy." In Rick Warren's,
"The Purpose Driven Church" he notes (p.100) that the
purpose statement of Disneyland is "To provide people
happiness." Hundreds of thousands flock to the Disney
properties to find "happiness." Christ says "happiness"
can be found in realizing our spiritual poverty.)
VI. THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
A. Matthew 5:3 tells us that the poor in spirit
of the kingdom of heaven. They own heaven!
1. What is the
attitude of those who rule the kingdoms of
the earth? Do rulers generally embrace poverty?
2. Of all the
things that Jesus could say about the poor
in spirit, why did He choose to say they would have the
kingdom of heaven?
a. Was He thinking, "The poor, who have very little,
will like best to hear that they own heaven?"
B. Is a true understanding of the wretchedness
character necessary to go to heaven?
1. Instead of
Jesus thinking, "What can I say about the
poor in spirit that will make them feel good about their
future," perhaps He is laying out a "first principle:"
unless you realize you are nothing, you cannot enter
heaven. What do you think about that?
C. Read Matthew 5:38-41. What are the reasons
that you would
resist an evil person? Someone who abuses you? Someone who
takes your stuff?
1. Is it pride?
This is MY stuff, not yours! This is my
body, not yours! You are treading on my space and not
respecting me as a person. I have dignity that you need
a. Isn't this (my stuff, my body, my dignity) the
philosophy of the world?
b. Is it your philosophy too?
c. Can this philosophy of the world be squared with
being "poor in spirit?" Does an attitude of being
poor in spirit allow us to turn our cheek?
Willingly let people take "our stuff?" (I told you
last week this is the "Ten heavy!" Aren't you glad
you are saved by grace?)
d. Are you willing to have the Holy Spirit come in
and change your attitude so that you are "poor in
(1) If you are not willing, are you an unfit
candidate for heaven?
(If Jesus just decided to say something positive
to the poor
to make them feel better, than this is a pretty harmless
beatitude. I think He is saying that we must acknowledge our
need. We must feel and understand our spiritual poverty.
Nothing so brightly shows up our spiritual poverty as when
someone attacks us, abuses us, or shows us disrespect. The
more "tools" life has given you to fight this kind of thing,
the more difficult it is to simply accept it! We need to pray
that we will see ourselves as God sees us. Thankfully, when
all is said and done in the judgment, God the Father will see
Christ (instead of me!)
VII. NEXT WEEK: THE MOURNERS. Study!