Sermon: How to Inherit God’s Kingdom
Scripture: Matthew 5:3
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means to be poor in spirit.
Theme: Confronted by God
Now, there is only one more observation that needs to be added to these comments on the first beatitude. I have said that there must be an emptying of a person before there can be a filling by God. There must be a true poverty of spirit. But this is not natural to man. In fact, it is impossible and we must therefore add that nothing but a direct confrontation with the holy, just, and loving God will produce it.
You see, it’s never possible to create a true poverty of spirit by looking within ourselves or by looking around at other people. The human heart is corrupt, and because of it you will always latch upon someone who is worse in some respect than yourself. You will find someone who is prouder than you are, and although you may still be quite proud you will congratulate yourself on being humble. You will find someone who has strong fits of temper, and although you too have a temper you will congratulate yourself on being more moderate in your temper than he. So it will go with all of the failings that make you less perfect than Jesus Christ and therefore the fit object of his mercy and salvation.
And yet, you need not look to other men for the basis of a self-evaluation. You may look to God as you see him reflected in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There you will learn a true humility, a true sense of need, and the result will be beneficial. You will say as Isaiah did when he saw God, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). C.S. Lewis once wrote of this experience,
Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone —I think we may be sure that we are being acted upon, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.1
As we continue our studies of the Beatitudes I am sure that both of those things will happen. But one other thing will happen also. We shall see more and more of Jesus, the one who is himself the Sermon on the Mount, and we shall be drawn increasingly closer to him.
1C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1958), 96-97.
To become poor in spirit, why must we not look within ourselves or to other people?
What does C. S. Lewis say is the real test of being in the presence of God? What do you think he means by this?
Prayer: Regularly ask the Lord to help you better to reflect the image of Christ to those around you.