Cultivating Poverty of Spirit
Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
The Sermon on the Mount teaches us the etiquette of God’s new kingdom. How do we develop this type of humility that wins the kingdom? First, we must consider certain truths and second we must act in certain ways.
Consider Certain Truths
- Consider the greatness of God in his character. When you are tempted to consider how independent or self-reliant you are, think about his self-existence. Everyone and everything is contingent on him for all things. Nothing exists apart from him. What do you have that you did not receive?
- Consider the power of God in creation. When you are tempted to think you are at the top of your game, think about the power of God creating massive stars and yet the microscopic unique detail of our DNA while you cannot add an inch or hour to life. Look at universe and feel small.
- Consider the holiness of God in the cross. When you are tempted to consider that your sins are not that bad really, not compared to others at least, consider that it required giving his own son for our sin. It took nothing less that the divine Son to be by substitute.
- Consider the mercy of God’s grace in salvation. When you are tempted to think how smart you are that you came to Jesus by faith, consider that you did not seek God as it was only his mercy that he chose us before the foundation of the world, to give grace to draw me, his constant grace to sanctify me, his persevering to keep me, and to glorify me so that as we see him we shall be like him.
- Consider your mortality. When you are tempted to think your involvement in life is critical or how many people really are dependent upon you, contemplate your death and think of all the great men and women who died before you. Consider Psalm 39:4, "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life."
Act in Certain Ways
- Practice daily repentance. Consider the struggle that you have over besetting sins. Like Paul we do that which we do not want to do and do not do that which we want to. Romans 7 lead Paul to say, "What a wretched man I am." Confess your sins to God and one another. The proud blame and spend more time criticizing others.
- Practice gratitude to God for any good you have done. Make it a principal to thank God for that which is good that flows from your life. James reminds us, "Every good and perfect gift comes from above." The proud rarely give thanks but wait to be thanked and appreciated and are offended when missed.
- Practice self-forgetfulness or think less of yourself and opinion. Whether politics, philosophy education, church music, parenting styles, forms of good entertainment. We hold very tightly on opinions. Consider Rom 12:3, "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment." The proud consider their opinions as tight as the gospel.
- Practice seeking correction from others. Beginning with your spouse, children if old enough or Christian friend to point out areas of inconsistency or what you are most passionate about? If you are in a small group, seek to develop an attitude of receiving instruction. The proud rarely look for input from others but offer freely.
- Practice serving others. Being a servant to another develops humility. Do the things you think are beneath you (1 Cor 4:1). This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ. The proud do not stoop to serve others but look to be served.
- Practice encouraging others. To publicly complement and encourage others deepens our own humility. The proud rarely encourage others but expect to be encouraged.
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