Some years ago, I preached a sermon series through the Gospel of Matthew. The sermon series progressed well enough, and then I hit Matthew 5-7, Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount.” I paused. The Sermon struck me in a way I did not anticipate. It cut straight through me and laid my life bare before the words of Christ. So, I slowed down the sermon series to allow space for the Spirit to do a work in me and in our church.
Since that time, the Sermon has featured prominently in my own spiritual walk. I have increasingly come to see the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and the Salt and Light passage (Matthew 5:13-16) as fruit that the Holy Spirit alone produces in the life of a believer. On the one hand, the Beatitudes are attitudes of the heart and realities of the life that every believer should seek, while on the other hand they are only possible if the Spirit so wills to produce them in the believer.
Today I begin a series exploring the Beatitudes and the Salt and Light passage in Matthew.
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Jesus begins His Sermon with a recognition that the Kingdom of Heaven is only available to those who know and confess the depths of their spiritual depravity.
1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:1–3 (ESV)
To be “poor in spirit” means to acknowledge that you possess nothing that can purchase your way into the Kingdom, you can do nothing to earn God’s favor, and you are owed nothing from God outside of His just wrath and righteous anger for your sin. When you see this reality in your life, you realize that you really are spiritually poor.
And here also is the Good News message of salvation in Jesus Christ: God in His mercy and grace freely gives His Kingdom to all who acknowledge their spiritual need! Can it really be true? Has God made the way for us to enter His Kingdom? Yes, He has! Does He offer it as a free act of grace to all who receive it by faith? Yes, He does! What Good News indeed!
To be spiritual poor is to empty your hands of all of your effort, striving, and self-righteousness so that they are open and receptive to accept the free gift of salvation in Christ. Truly, the Kingdom does belong to the spiritually poor!
Are you poor in spirit?
As we will see each week, the Kingdom of Heaven reverses the expectations of this world. In the kingdoms of this world, the rich possess the privilege, entitlement, power, and pleasures. In the Kingdom of Heaven, the spiritually poor are the spiritually rich in Christ.
Are you poor in spirit? Here are some reflection questions for you to consider:
- On what are you trusting—really trusting—to make you acceptable to God? If you are trusting anything other than Jesus Christ, you may not be spiritually poor.
- Have you come to the place where you have exhausted your resources and have nothing but Christ? If you are at the end of your rope, you’re in a great place to inherit the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven!
- Is your faith a means to improving your life, providing spiritual experiences, or getting ahead in the world? If faith is a means to advancing in this world or scratching an itch for some kind of entertaining personalized spirituality, you may not be spiritually poor.
Take the next step (1 minute)
- Take 1 minute right now to pause and thank God for freely giving the Kingdom of Heaven to all who repent and receive His offer of salvation in Jesus Christ.
In this series
- Part 1: The Poor in Spirit
- Part 2: Those Who Mourn
- Part 3: The Meek
- Part 4: Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
- Part 5: The Merciful
- Part 6: The Pure in Heart
- Part 7: The Peacemakers
- Part 8: Those Who are Persecuted
- Part 9: The Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World
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