Lesson 3: Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
Blessed Are the Poor In Spirit…
Matthew 5.3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Commentary from www. theologyofwork.org states: “‘The poor in spirit’ are those who cast themselves on God’s grace. We personally acknowledge our spiritual bankruptcy before God. It is the tax collector in the temple, beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ (Luke 18.9-14). It is an honest confession that we are sinful and utterly without moral virtues needed to please God. It is the opposite of arrogance. In its deepest form, it acknowledges our desperate need for God. Jesus is declaring that it is a blessing to recognize our need to be filled by God’s grace.”
When have you felt at the end of your rope? Perhaps it’s now. Perhaps it’s been when your personal or business bank account is negative. Perhaps it’s when you just can’t stand to go to work anymore—for a variety of reasons: others bickering, vying for promotion, questioning every corporate policy, skating by with minimal work effort and dragging out those lunch and coffee breaks…customers yelling at you, bosses yelling at you…with you just trying to get through the day physically tired and emotionally drained, stressed by bills piling up, a car/bus/train that’s broken down, traffic tickets and unpaid taxes, dealing with aging parents, or siblings who won’t talk to you, neighbors driving you crazy, being taunted by people who are different from you, misbehaving kids and not enough money to replace worn-out clothing for the family…wondering when is God going to fulfill His promises. You just want to curl up and make the world go away. Maybe there’s a temptation to “medicate” yourself through substance abuse, video abuse, distractions of any of the senses—taste, smell, touch, sight, sound.
Other “medications” might include: sorcery—trying to conjure up some magic solution—consuming hatred, quarrelsomeness, jealousy, outbursts of anger, discord, currying favor or showing favoritism. We might even sacrifice time, talent and money to a god of Fame, Fortune or Popularity. We might only find our peace when those gods have smiled on us. Those of us who react to stress and troubles with these behaviors will not inherit the Kingdom. But these behaviors are often the only ways we know, or have learned from others, to deal with difficult situations.
Jesus starts here for those in the crowd who know they just can’t go any further without God’s help through divine intervention…or His people rallying around them. They are looking at Him, wondering if He’s the One or just another teacher, just a wannabe, just a charlatan to suck away their money and time. Jesus has been teaching, preaching…and healing. So there seems to be some promise. Perhaps He really understands what they’re going through.
And in this phrase, He certainly understands our stressed-out life. So what’s the solution? Later, in the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “Do not worry…Are you not worth much more [to God the Father] than [birds]?…Will He not much more [than grass] clothe you?” And yet, we look around and life is not as seemingly carefree as birds and grass. We trust God? Because He shows up on time? Because He has integrity and does what He promises? Because He’s capable of solving our problems? Because we can tell Him anything in confidence and He’ll still accept us? Because He too shares His heart and thoughts about what’s happening?
How about when things are going well? How easy is it to be “poor in spirit”? Why would you need God’s grace? Your success is because of you, right? “I’m large and I’m in charge” might be the refrain you say every morning. If you have that attitude, you forget how much you are helped by others. Self-made millionaires are not self-made. They didn’t teach their employees their ABCs and 123s. They didn’t build the roads or airports; they didn’t manufacture the cars, trucks, airplanes or cardboard boxes. They didn’t create the banks through which their money flows. We all depend on others for our success. We all are stewards of God’s provisions. Therefore, we must thank God for every good gift.
…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven [God]
Throughout His ministry, Jesus describes the Kingdom in many ways. Amazingly, it doesn’t take conquering, defeating or crossing difficulties. It takes desire with humility. “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also,” Jesus teaches.
The benefits of being a citizen in God’s Kingdom is not only a relationship with the King but also a confidence that we cannot be defeated by life’s circumstances. And no matter who the oppressor is or how far in exile we might be cast from “the land.” We also know there is pride in flying the banner of His Kingdom and we have brothers and sisters throughout the globe. Also, because of His resurrection, we know death cannot separate us either from His Kingdom or His presence.
Jesus’ Good News is: that when you think there’s a lot of shoulds in order to enter the Kingdom, it’s really simple to experience it at work and at home…to help bring the Kingdom to your co-workers, families, friends, neighbors (“Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find.” “My yoke is light.”). The Good News is that God’s love for you cannot be discerned by how well life is going. He doesn’t hate you when you have trouble. He’s not loving you more when life is easy. God’s grace is there to bring you hope, love, joy, peace and so on. God’s grace is not there to necessarily bring you dollars in your bank account. God’s grace is there so that we as a community can lift each other up, laugh and cry with each other and not live this life alone but as a part of God’s family.
1. When have you ever felt at the end of your rope? What did you do?
2. When do you feel like you are part of God’s Kingdom? When do you feel like He loves you?
3. How have you shared about an event that felt like a failure—someone was out to get you, responsible for your own defeat or…? How did you talk about a success—right place at the right time, personally responsible for it or…?
4. What will you do differently this week?
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Blessed Are those who mourn