Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beatitude: Poor in Spirit

Beatitude means being in a state if utmost bliss, according to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary. Well here is a list of utmost blissfulness from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5  (ESV)

The Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Today's thought are on those poor in spirit. Each day a different beatitude will be examined. Of course the idea is for you to have a daily blessing!

Of all these blessings, most are for those whose countenance is down or are focused on others. You see, Christians are to be Christ-focused, with their eyes either on Jesus or others,

Those poor in spirit are those who are not content with life's situations. Perhaps life hasn't went well for their family, or the times are trying. Perhaps the forces of evil unfairly attack them when they endeavor to live right.

I don't believe those poor in spirit include those selfish people who feel badly because they don't get what they want, or feel sorry for their position in life, although it may include those who know they aren't deserving of God's grace.

When I sin, I feel guilty because I am. That guilt that I feel is from God, and it's his way of calling me back to right living. Guilt is because of his grace, but the guilt-ridden person is poor in spirit. That poorness of spirit is a pre-requisite for repentance.
Matthew 4:17 ESV From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Luke 5:32 ESV I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”   
  2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Those who are poor in spirit are called by Jesus Christ to repent. Grief - poor in spirit, leads to repentance, the necessary ingredient for forgiveness.   A forgiven person, because of God's grace, is blissful. In fact his forgiving grace is the utmost bliss!

It would seem that those poor in spirit are focused on themselves. Indeed, they are, but it's the case when they know that they don't measure up to God's expectations. I am often disappointed in myself, and my spirits are down. Stop at that, and I'm just self-centered, but with repentance, Jesus lifts me up.  James spoke on this very issue:
James 4:8 "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you."
If this verse is examined it essentially says: If you are poor in spirit,  let the Lord lift you up. His exalting those who mourn and weep is one case of a beatitude.

We don't lift ourselves out of wretchedness - Jesus does! It's not what we do, but our attitude about God. A right attitude leads to a beatitude. Being poor in spirit isn't a negative thing because it leads to blessings.

This poor in spirit doesn't shake well with positive Christianity. Thinking positive thoughts doesn't change those poor in spirit. Turning to God does!

I've old this story before, but it is worth repeating. It's about Jack and Sandy.

Jack was an army colonel married to Sandy. They lived in Kentucky. With the counseling of positive Christianity they said positive things. When asked, How are you doing? each would answer: Terrific!

I heard that so many times that I called them Mr. and Mrs. Terrific.

One day I saw Jack in Lexington. I inquired about Sandy. Jack replied, "We're divorced now." I then asked, "How are you doing, Jack?" Of course he responded positively: "I'm terrific!"

About six months went by. I saw Sandy in Lexington. I inquired about Jack. She told me her version of the divorce. I asked her, "How are you doing?"  "I'm terrific!" she replied. "How about Jack?" She looked forlorn. "He's dead."

"What happened?" I asked. "Jack committed suicide." Jack wasn't as terrific as he said he was. He was depressed and poor in spirit.

Jack wasn't so terrific, and neither was Sandy. Jack was dead and Sandy was poor in spirit. Neither had been terrific, but they had always been poor in spirit.

Being poor in spirit is not the time for self-pity. It's a time to let Jesus lift you up!

The entire Book of Job is a lesson on being poor in spirit. Job was tested when God allowed Satan to test his spirit. During the test, Job was poor in spirit. Nothing went right for him, but then the Lord lifted him up, just as he says he will.

For those poor in spirit right now, rather than wallowing in self-pity, consider your circumstances. You are ripe for an utmost blessing! Things can get better! This situation has been a test. Groan and weep when you're tested, but turn to the Lord and let him exalt you.

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