Rich in Dependence
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:3
Sermon Theme: God blesses those that wholly depend on Him.
The truly humble are those who are sensible of their spiritual poverty, of their ignorance and sinfulness, their guilt, depravity, and weakness, their frailty and mortality; and who, therefore, whatever their outward situation in life may be, however affluent and exalted, think meanly of themselves, and neither desire the praise of men, nor covet high things in the world, but are content with the lot God assigns them, however low and poor. These are happy, because their humility renders them teachable, submissive, resigned, patient, contented, and cheerful in all estates; and it enables them to receive prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, ease or pain, life or death, with an equal mind. Whatever is allotted them short of those everlasting burnings which they see they have merited, they consider as a grace or favor. They are happy, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven — The present, inward kingdom, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, as well as the eternal kingdom, if they endure to the end. The knowledge which they have of themselves, and their humiliation of soul before God, prepare them for the reception of Christ, to dwell and reign in their hearts, and all the other blessings of the gospel; the blessings both of grace and glory. For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15; 66:2). And those in whom God dwells here shall dwell with him hereafter.
(From the Benson Commentary)
- Do we understand that all the suffering in the world stems from the sinful and self-destructive human tendency to act as if God did not exist?
- Do you find any political or social reform in the Beatitudes? Is our King reflecting first and foremost the importance of internal and not external, and spiritual and moral rather than physical and political? Is His concern for what men are, because what they are determines what they do?
- What are the traits and attitudes the church is conveying to the world? In the world’s eyes, being humble, compassionate, meek, yearning for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers are the marks of losers. The world says, “Assert yourself, stand up for yourself, be proud of yourself, elevate yourself, defend yourself, avenge yourself, serve yourself.” Those are the treasured traits of the world’s people and the world’s kingdoms.
- Is your sense of “Poor in Spirit” conveying the recognition of poverty as genuine, not an act? Is it referring to an outward act like a spiritual beggar or to recognizing what one really is? Is it true humility and not mock humility? It should describe the person about whom the Lord speaks in Isaiah 66:2—“To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” It should describe the person who is “brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18), who has “a broken and a contrite heart” before the Lord (Psalms 51:17).
- Are we proud of our intellect, our wealth, our prestige, or who we know? Do any of these things help us or count for anything before God?
- Are you guarding your heart from the things of the world which fuel your pride, lust, and self-satisfaction—the enemies not only of righteousness but of happiness? “The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).
- What route are you taking to achieve true happiness? The world says, “Happy are the rich, the noble, the successful, the macho, the glamorous, the popular, the famous, the aggressive.” But the message from the King does not fit the world’s standards, because His kingdom is not of this world but of heaven.
- Do you want to be blessed, according to Jesus or according to what the world has to offer? Do you need to acknowledge that you might be walking down the wrong path? Awareness of being blessed can put us in a closer, grateful, trusting relationship with God that frees us from fear and opens us to divinely inspired love and joy.
- Have you felt a spiritual need for help in connecting with God? Have you experienced God’s blessing in your need? To be blessed is not a superficial feeling of well-being based on circumstance, but a deep supernatural experience of contentedness based on the fact that one’s life is right with God. Blessedness is based on objective reality, realized in the miracle of transformation to a new and divine nature.
- How does humility bring spiritually sensitive to our soul? In humility we must understand who we are in order to confess with a true heart our helplessness and pleaded for His mercy and strength (Psalms 51:1-4). For how do we keep God’s commandments without God’s power?
- Are these Beatitudes just separate, little statements intended to be hung on wall plaques in our homes? Are they just cute, memorable phrases or the rock solid truths for living?
- Do you see why Matthew added “in spirit” so you would understand blessedness to be humility and not poverty? “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” who on account of the Holy Spirit are poor by willing freely to be so.
- Are you taking great care to see that you are not “walking in a vain show,” “in a shadow;” “an image in an unreal world” — taking a false view of yourself and all around you? God wants nothing from us as the price of His saving gifts; we have but to feel our universal destitution and cast ourselves upon His compassion (Job 33:27-28; 1 John 1:9).
- Have some churches brought God’s standards down to men’s standards—which they could keep without God’s help? Brought the commandments down to a level that was more manageable and acceptable to us? Taught as doctrine those precepts of men (Matthew 15:9)? Are they making the fatal error of thinking that God was less holy than He is and that they were more holy than they were? The result is the illusion that they are sufficiently righteous to please God.
- How concerned should faithful Christians be about the letter of God’s Word? To claim to follow the spirit without obeying the letter is to be a liar. To follow the letter without following the spirit is to be a hypocrite. To follow the spirit in the right attitude and the letter in the right action is to be a faithful child of God with an obedient heart filled with the desire to glorify the Lord.
1) Our modern idea of “happiness” is a diluted version of the joy implied by the term Jesus used. Our idea of happiness is a dependence on circumstances. Instead, God’s happiness or joy is dependent on the assurance of God’s blessing (sometimes present, often future), not on current circumstances, and it abides deep and undisturbable within the believer.
(From Holman’s New Testament Commentary)
2) Ptōchos (poor) is from a verb meaning “to shrink, cower, or cringe,” as beggars often did in that day. Classical Greek used the word to refer to a person reduced to total destitution, who crouched in a corner begging. As he held out one hand for alms he often hid his face with the other hand, because he was ashamed of being recognized. The term did not mean simply poor, but begging poor. One who is ptōchos poor is completely dependent on others for sustenance. He has absolutely no means of self-support.
Those who are materially poor do have some advantages in spiritual matters by not having certain distractions and temptations; and the materially rich have some disadvantage by having certain distractions and temptations. But material possessions have no necessary relationship to spiritual blessings. Matthew makes clear that Jesus is here talking about the condition of the spirit, not of the wallet.
To be poor in spirit is to recognize one’s spiritual poverty apart from God. It is to see oneself as one really is: lost, hopeless, helpless. Apart from Jesus Christ every person is spiritually destitute, no matter what his education, wealth, social status, accomplishments, or religious knowledge.
(From John MacArthur New Testament Commentary)
3) How can we know if we are genuinely humble, if we are poor in spirit? Thomas Watson gives seven principles we may apply in determining humility:
- If we are humble we will be weaned from ourselves—lose our self-preoccupation.
- Humility will lead us to be lost in the wonder of Christ, “with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, … being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
- We will not complain about our situation, no matter how bad it may become. Because we know we deserve worse than anything we can experience in this life, we will consider no circumstance to be unfair.
- We will more clearly see the strengths and virtues of others as well as our own weaknesses and sins. With “humility of mind” we will “regard one another as more important than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3) and will “give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10).
- We will spend much time in prayer.
- We will take Christ on His terms, not on ours or any other. His Word alone will be our standard.
- When we are poor in spirit we will praise and thank God for His grace.
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