The Outward Beatitudes: We Need God

The beginning of Matthew 5 is an intriguing passage known as the beatitudes. In these 10 verses, Jesus gives 8 blessings based on our heart attitude. And what is interesting about these 8 attitudes is the blessings are connected to an attitude that leads us outward. And the challenge of this passage is that the outward attitude that Jesus commends and blesses results in persecution from the world. And this reminds us once again that living in obedience before God as followers of Jesus will lead to suffering.

Many times we read this section through the lens of how we can be blessed but what Jesus is calling us to is a life that is a blessing toward others. And so I am going to do a series of 8 blog post focusing on the 8 attitudes that lead us outward.

Jesus begins in verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The phrase “poor is spirit” isn’t describing someone whose spirits are down and they need encouraging. This phrase essentially means one who is in “spiritual poverty.” Why are you blessed when you are spiritually poor? Because the poor in spirit recognizes that apart from God they can do nothing. And so Jesus says if you want to enter into the kingdom of God it begins by recognizing that we need God. It begins by recognizing that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When we see ourselves as rich in ourselves we develop a pride that keeps us from God. And pride is an inward attitude focusing on ourselves and not God. And when I am relying on myself I am trusting in my limited, finite and selfish wisdom and power that sets me on a path to destruction.

This is why Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty”. The word haughty means, “showing an attitude of superiority and contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior.”

When I have reached that point where I put myself above people I am now removing myself from the very ones who can help me. When I declare, “I can do this on my own” I have now given myself to limited resources that will run out. And eventually, I will come against someone or something that I cannot overcome. This is why pride goes before a fall.

But the ultimate destruction of pride is refusing to recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior. And if we don’t believe we need God, we will die in our sin resulting in eternal separation from God. This is why Jesus says blessed are those who are spiritually poor because they recognize they need God to rescue them from their sin. And out of that recognition we are able to call out to God to save us through faith in Christ and therefore enter into the Kingdom of God.

Now how is this leading us outward?

If I believe I need God, then I understand that others do to. When I recognize that I am spiritually poor, not self-sufficient and in desperately need of someone to rescue me from my sin, I am now in a place where I am able to see others in the same desperate situation. When I am prideful, I see myself as self-made. And it is other’s own fault if they haven’t figured out life like I have. When I am prideful, I look down on others for not working hard enough or desiring something enough.

If I am in an ocean drowning along with others who are also drowning and I suddenly come upon a large lifeboat, I am not going to look down with disdain on the others still drowning because they didn’t have the savvy or smarts or skill to also find a lifeboat. No, I am going to begin shouting to everyone else, “Over here! I found a boat to save us.” And I am going to try to navigate my boat to save everyone I can.

The blessing of being poor in spirit is not only am I able to enter the Kingdom of God through the grace of God, but now I take on the heart of the Kingdom of God that desires no one to perish. When Jesus began his ministry he came preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. The good news being that there is salvation to those who recognize their need for God which is why both the message of Jesus and John the Baptist were, “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Being poor in spirit doesn’t just change my position of being lost but it changes my heart for those are still lost. It creates in me a desire to now go to others who are still drowning and offer them the same hope that I have found. When you consider your heart attitude of being poor in spirit, would you ask yourself if that attitude only causes you to need God or if it also causes you to love those who also need God. Because that truly is the heart of those who are in the Kingdom of God.

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