Have You Ever Been “Po” When You Can’t Afford the Other “o” or the “r”?

Posted: December 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

Luke 6:20-23 — There is an old saying, “I am so broke I cannot even pay attention!” Have you ever been that broke. I remember there was time in my life when I had to stop at the local hot dog joint and buy 4 hot dogs so I would have dinner for two nights. I was “po”. I couldn’t afford the second “o” or the “r” so I was just “po”. Is this the kind of poor of which Jesus speaks of in today’s passage. Let’s take a look-see.

Some call this passage the Sermon on the Plain in Luke’s gospel because in the previous passage Luke says that Jesus came down to them and stood on a level place. He then begins to preach what has come to be known as the beatitudes, the latin word for the blessed. Matthew’s version of this sermon is called the Sermon on the Mount. But, with Luke here we see him concentrating on the parts of the sermon that are the lowly and downtrodden. We are going to spend a couple of days here, naturally, because the Beatitudes are important. We will take them one by one.

The first one is difficult ‘Poor in Spirit’ is a quite difficult phrase to understand for us in the 21st century. It says, “Blessed are you who are poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Wow, that sounds good. Sounds different. It is in opposition to what we think of normally in today’s culture, where wealth and opulence is praised and encouraged. Sounds like being rich in any way is not a good thing. When you think about it, this is pretty much opposed to our concept of anything. Poor is never good. But, as we see throughout Jesus’ ministry, His concepts of life are often opposite of our secular view of the world.

What did Jesus mean by this? Blessed are the poor in spirit. What exactly does that mean. Luke wrote in Greek and chose the word, ptochos, to describe the ‘poor’ that Jesus was talking about. In Greek “Ptochos” literally means having nothing, reduced to begging, like a beggar, totally broke. So, Jesus is saying blessed are those who have nothing. Blessed are those who are totally broke, like beggars. Now, this phrase is beginning to come in focus.

Jesus is saying those that are empty, broken, reduced to nothing will inherit the kingdom of God. We must be empty of our pride. We must be broken down of our self-sufficiency. The poor need a helping hand to get back on their feet. We need to have spent all our pride out. We need to lose all that stuff that we think are important. We need to lose self. We need to lose self-centeredness. We need to lose me-me-me. Like when I was a particularly low point in my life, I had money only for 4 hot dogs for two days. I was completely empty. I was at the bottom of my money barrel. I had ran out of money before I ran out of month. I was not on the street but I was living in my parent’s lake house I was so down and out. I was spent. All my pride was out the window. Anything else and I was out the street. I had been brought low. Have you ever been so broken down that begging was the next step. Have you ever been dependent on the kindness of family and friends. It is humbling. Humility makes us realize that we are not the proud, high and mighty things that we think we are.

Jesus is saying that those who inherit the kingdom will be those who do not see themselves as self-sufficient. When we see ourselves as self-sufficient, we see ourselves as gods. We control our destiny. We have the world by the tail. This is the world that our American culture promotes. Those who have it all. Those who have it made. Those who have wealth and riches and can do anything that they want. They are the masters of their own worlds. That is what our society pushes us toward. We are promoted toward being our own gods! Jesus says there is no room in the kingdom of God for more than one God. We must come to that place that we are poor, empty, willing to beg. We must come to the place that we know that we need help. We must reach out to God and say I can no longer do this on my own. We must come to that humble place where we say, “I have screwed this up and I cannot do it anymore.” Once my senior pastor told us that Christ followers are “simply beggars telling other beggars where to get food.” I think he quoted someone else with that saying but can’t remember who that is but the point is clear and my senior pastor fully believes it. We are who are Christ followers are those that have empty themselves of our pride in what we once were. We see that the only thing between us and the hell we deserve is simply the wonderful and undeserved grace of Jesus Christ. Without it, we are doomed on our own. Coming to Christ when it is a real coming to Christ is the humbling experience in life. You realize that you are destined for hell without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. You are finally willing with tears in your eyes to beg for it. To be a beggar for Christ’s grace! To vomit out all that old stuff and take in grace. The emptying. The broke. Are spiritual wallets are now emptied and ready to be filled with the currency of Jesus Christ.

Can I be monetarily poor and yet be rich in my own spirit? Yes, I have met poor people who are the most self-centered people I have ever met. Those that think they personally are entitled to all the handouts in the world. They deserve it. You know the type. Can I be monetarily rich and be poor in spirit? Yes, Lord, I have met these types too. Those who are Christ followers who have become wealthy by the world’s standards but are totally submitted to the Lord and give it all away only to be blessed with more. They think nothing about their money other than it is a tool to expand God’s kingdom. So this passage has nothing to do with monetary riches or poverty. It has everything to do with those that are broken in pride like a wild horse is broken down into something useful. We are only useful to the kingdom when we are emptied of our pride, our self, our me-me-me. Are you broken? Are you ready for Christ to come fill you up with the riches of the kingdom. Man, oh man, I glory in the day that Jesus came into my life. It hasn’t always been easy by human standards but the joy I carry with me daily, the wonder that I have of everything that God created, the wonder that I have at what Jesus has done in my soul, the wonder that I have at the orchestration of my life that God has wrought that has brought me to this place at this time with these people in this place. My joy is complete. I am full. But it all started when I became poor in spirit. When I became broken. When I became empty. When I became a beggar. When I begged Jesus Christ for His grace. Glory. Glory. Glory. I am now full. I am now complete. I am ready for whatever God leads me to do for the kingdom. Amen. Amen means so be it. So be it!

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