In 1660 Thomas Watson wrote an exposition on the Beatitudes. It is so good that I am going to be drawing from it in this post. You can read the whole thing here if you want.
After healing a number of people, Jesus goes up on a mountain and begins to preach his famous “Sermon on the Mount.” He starts with the beatitudes which are a collection of truths for those who want to truly be blessed or “happy”. I want to focus on the very first one because from it spring the rest.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
What does he mean by “poor?” Is he referring to those who are without material possessions or who have a hard time paying their bills? There certainly is truth in the fact that those who belong to Jesus are the richest in the world, despite any current financial hardships, for they will one day lack for nothing. But the “poor” Jesus addresses here are the “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5). It “signifies those who are brought to the sense of their sins, and seeing no goodness in themselves, despair in themselves and sue wholly to the mercy of God in Christ.” (Thomas Watson) Someone who is poor in spirit has a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). They are humbled by their sin and know that they approach the living God with absolutely nothing to offer but their own filth and unrighteousness.
The reason we must all be “poor in spirit” is because:
1. “Until we are poor in spirit—we are not capable of receiving grace” (Watson)
Someone who is full of himself is not able to be filled with Christ. “God first empties a man of himself, before he pours in the precious wine of his grace.” (Thomas Watson)
2. “Until we are poor in spirit—Christ is never precious” (Watson)
The person who see the dirt that covers him will view the garment of Christ’s righteousness as desirable (Zech. 3:4). But if you think your works are good and beautiful on their own then what Christ offers will seem neither necessary or precious.
3. “Until we are poor in spirit—we cannot go to heaven” (Watson)
The kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit. The Kingdom is for those who have nothing, know it, and receive what is promised by faith alone.
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling”
I don’t know about you, but I have a major problem here. I can never be poor in spirit on my own. I am by nature proud, self reliant, forgetful, stubborn and rebellious. Even as one who has been saved through the death of Christ I easily revert back to my old nasty habits or self righteousness. But just as my salvation was wholly of God so is everything else pertaining to my spiritual life. Where I fail, Christ succeeds for me. Where I am proud, Christ is humble. And the best part of all is that when I run in the wrong direction Christ pursues me and lovingly brings me back.
As Francis Thompson wrote, Jesus, “The Hound of Heaven” pursues those who are his with an “unhurrying chase, unperturbed pace, deliberate speed, and majestic urgency”.
We must pray that God would make us aware of where we have filled our lives with “self” instead of Christ. We must pray that God would make us poor in Spirit and fill us “with the graces of his Spirit.” He is faithful, he will hear our prayers. He will change our hearts.
Looking To Jesus,