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Beatitudes Lesson Two               


Beatitudes Lesson Two
Poor In Spirit


“And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying, 3 "Blessed
are the _______ ___ _______, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:2-3)

“It is remarkable that Jesus began his ministry in this manner, so unlike all others. Other teachers had taught that happiness was to be found in honor, or riches, or splendor, or sensual pleasure. Jesus overlooked all those things, and fixed his eye on the poor and the humble, and said that happiness was to be found in the lowly vale of poverty more than in the pomp and splendors of life” (Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft).

Jesus speaks of those who are “poor in spirit.” But who are the “poor in spirit?” The word translated “poor” here “is the word which denotes absolute poverty. It describes not the condition of having a little, but of having nothing. It is not financial poverty that Jesus has in mind, but spiritual poverty” (Sermon Outlines for Seekers, Original work copyright © 1996 The Standard Publishing Company. All rights reserved.). Therefore those who are “poor in spirit” “are those who consciously depend on God, not on themselves” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, Copyright 1983, SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc., PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa. All rights reserved.).

“To be "poor in spirit" is to feel a deep sense of spiritual destitution and comprehend your nothingness before God. This is one who knows his insufficient spiritual state and longs for a better one. One can never realize he is in want for help unless he can see and wants to see his need for a better spiritual state. One who is "poor in spirit" realizes his spiritual aliment and seeks help from the Great Physician. In other words, one who is "poor in spirit" is one who seeks to do the things of God” (“Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit” by Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_poor _in_spirit.html [emphasis mine]). rather than doing things in and of his own accord.

The “poor in spirit” may be contrasted to the Pharisee who prayed in Luke 18:11b-12, “God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (NAS). Here is a man who seems to declare his greatness before man and God. A poor example of one that is “poor in spirit.” However, we have “the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, [who] was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 [Jesus said] "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14, NAS). This is a good example of one who was “poor in spirit.” This publican was not even willing to lift up his eyes to heaven because he was so humble. Therefore he was justified rather than humbled as was the Pharisees who exalted himself.

Another example of being “poor in spirit” is seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son. After the younger son had gone “into a far country” and “wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13) - he finally “came to himself” (Luke 15:17) and develops the “poor in spirit” attitude. This attitude is seen in his admission, “I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:19). It was this attitude that lead him to return to his father (Luke 15:20). The Prodigal realized he was in need and could not help himself - he needed help from his father. It is this same attitude - being “poor in spirit” - that will help us to come back to the Father when we have strayed. To be “poor in spirit” is to be destitute of pride, haughtiness, arrogance and self-sufficiency. The “poor in spirit” are aware of their needs and know their true spiritual condition; and therefore, seek help from the only one who can truly give the help they require - God (“Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit” by Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/" http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/ blessed_poor_in_spirit.html).

To be “poor in spirit” is to be willing to give our entire being to God Almighty. Those who do so are “Blessed, and truly “happy” (“Blessed” means “happy” or “fortunate” [cf. Ps. 1:1]).

Such are happy:
Because there is more real enjoyment in thinking of ourselves as we are, than in being filled with pride and vanity.
Because such Jesus chooses to bless, and on them he confers his favors here.
Because theirs will be the kingdom of heaven hereafter (Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft).
“Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” - As we discussed in lesson one concerning the Beatitudes, these qualities, or characteristics describe those who are of the nature of God's people. In fact, these are characteristic of God's people. In these twelve verses we are reading Jesus' description of the church of our Lord. We are to possess these qualities and are indeed blessed both now and eternally as a result.

“. . . . those who stand before God without pretense, stripped of any claim of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency even now experience the blessings of God's rule. Truly, Jesus has come “to preach good news to the poor” (Isa 61:1) (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

Discussion Questions:

1) To be “poor in spirit” means that one is to feel a deep sense of spiritual destitution and comprehend your nothingness before God.

(Paragraph 2) Jesus speaks of those who are “poor in spirit.” But who are the “poor in spirit?” The word translated “poor” here “is the word which denotes absolute poverty. It describes not the condition of having a little, but of having nothing. It is not financial poverty that Jesus has in mind, but spiritual poverty” (Sermon Outlines for Seekers, Original work copyright © 1996 The Standard Publishing Company. All rights reserved.).

 Therefore those who are “poor in spirit” “are those who consciously depend on God, not on themselves” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, Copyright 1983, SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc., PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa. All rights reserved.).

(Paragraph 3) “To be "poor in spirit" is to feel a deep sense of spiritual destitution and comprehend your nothingness before God. This is one who knows his insufficient spiritual state and longs for a better one. One can never realize he is in want for help unless he can see and wants to see his need for a better spiritual state. One who is "poor in spirit" realizes his spiritual aliment and seeks help from the Great Physician. In other words, one who is "poor in spirit" is one who seeks to do the things of God”( “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit” by Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_poor_in_spirit.html [emphasis mine]) rather than doing things in and of his own accord.

It is not as though we are of no value or “worthless.” God did not create us that way. But He created us to be of GREAT value as we are in a relationship with Him as His children. As Ephesians 2:8-10 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (NAS).
It is not as though Isaiah saw himself as of no value, but when he saw a portion of the holiness of God, how did he react? "Woe is me, for I am ruined!, Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isa 6:5b, NAS).

And how did John respond when he saw the risen Lord in his vision? We read in Revelation 1:17a, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man (NAS).

When we stand before the Almighty, we see our nothingness in comparison.

2) Give an example of being “poor in spirit” (either a real life example or a scriptural example).

Paragraphs 4 & 5.

The “poor in spirit” may be contrasted to the Pharisee who prayed in Luke 18:11b-12, “God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (NAS). Here is a man who seems to declare his greatness before man and God. A poor example of one that is “poor in spirit.” However, we have “the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, [who] was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 [Jesus said] "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14, NAS). This is a good example of one who was “poor in spirit.” This publican was not even willing to lift up his eyes to heaven because he was so humble. Therefore he was justified rather than humbled as was the Pharisees who exalted himself.

Another example of being “poor in spirit” is seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son. After the younger son had gone “into a far country” and “wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13) - he finally “came to himself” (Luke 15:17) and develops the “poor in spirit” attitude. This attitude is seen in his admission, “I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:19). It was this attitude that lead him to return to his father (Luke 15:20). The Prodigal realized he was in need and could not help himself - he needed help from his father. It is this same attitude - being “poor in spirit” - that will help us to come back to the Father when we have strayed. To be “poor in spirit” is to be destitute of pride, haughtiness, arrogance and self-sufficiency. The “poor in spirit” are aware of their needs and know their true spiritual condition; and therefore, seek help from the only one who can truly give the help they require - God (“Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit” by Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_poor_in_spirit.html).

When one hers (reads, hears audibly) the Gospel and responds (as did those on Pentecost), he or she is an example of one who is “poor in spirit.” The realization that he or she needs God and is lost and nothing without God is shown by the correct response of repentance.

When we are uninhibited in our cries of grace and mercy to God, we show ourselves to truly be “poor in spirit.” And when we find that we will approach each day of our life only after prayer for His strength and guidance, we show that we are truly “poor in spirit.”

We can do nothing without our Lord and God!

3) What are the immediate results (as Christians) of being “poor in spirit”?

As noted above and as follows from paragraph 6: To be “poor in spirit” is to be willing to give our entire being to God Almighty. Those who do so are “Blessed, and truly “happy” (“Blessed” means “happy” or “fortunate” [cf. Ps. 1:1].).

The immediate result is to realize that we are sinners and impure creatures standing before our perfect and pure Creator. We will be brought to repentance and will maintain a repentant heart as long as we see God correctly and ourselves as we truly exist!

4) What is the eternal reward? Explain.

Paragraphs 7 & 8:

Such are happy:
Because there is more real enjoyment in thinking of ourselves as we are, than in being filled with pride and vanity.
Because such Jesus chooses to bless, and on them he confers his favors here.
Because theirs will be the kingdom of heaven hereafter (Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft).

“Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” - As we discussed in lesson one concerning the Beatitudes, these qualities, or characteristics describe those who are of the nature of God's people. In fact, these are characteristic of God's people. In these twelve verses we are reading Jesus' description of the church of our Lord. We are to possess these qualities and are indeed blessed both now and eternally as a result.

When Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven here, He speaks of His church. But this reward is eternal. After all, with Whom will we spend eternity, if we remain faithful?

5) Can you imagine someone who does not possess this quality standing before God in heaven and giving Him honor? Will it not
     be those who have recognized His greatness and Deity while here on earth that will also stand before Him, or kneel before
     Him in glory?



Beatitudes Lesson One   |   Beatitudes Lesson Two   |   Beatitudes Lesson Three   |   Beatitudes Lesson Four   |   Beatitudes Lesson Five   |   Beatitudes Lesson Six   |   Beatitudes Lesson Seven   |   Beatitudes Lesson Eight   |   Beatitudes Lesson Nine   |   Beatitudes Lesson Ten



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