THE BLESSING OF BROKENNESS by Pastor Abidan Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
We’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and as of last week we are in our miniseries on the Sermon on the Mount called “Salt and Light.” Today we will look at the first Beatitude and our message is titled, “THE BLESSING OF BROKENNESS.”
Matthew 5 1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Overall Background: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The first beatitude is very important for us to understand. It sets the tone for the rest of the Beatitudes. To be honest, it sets the tone for the Christian life. The principle behind that verse is “the way up is down.” It goes contrary to everything in our human nature. We think that the way up is up. As Emerson said, “Now that is the wisdom of a man, in every instance of his labor, to hitch his wagon to a star…” As a naturalist, he was talking about harnessing the power of nature but the point still stands that we as human beings think that the way up is by hitching our wagon to a star. Not so in God’s eyes. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Men and women throughout the ages who got this truth got the heart of God and lived a life of blessing.
Application: Which way is up for you? If you want to go with God, the way is down. Do you want God’s blessing in your life? Are you willing to be broken? That’s good not bad.
By the way, this principle is not only true in our relationship with God but also in our relationships at home, church, and community. Men and women, boys and girls who truly live by the principle “the way up is down” bring blessings every where they go. In fact, they become the salt and light in their circle of influence. They season and brighten their world for the better. If there’s anything our nation and our world needs right now is a healthy dose of “the way up is down.”
Three important questions we will ask about this beatitude:
1. WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?
Background: Several times in Matthew we see Jesus using the term the “kingdom of heaven.” Ay the way, it’s no different than the “kingdom of God” in Mark, Luke, and John. For some people the kingdom of heaven/God was an earthly rule by the Messiah – something that would set them free from their Roman rulers. For other people the kingdom was the ultimate rule of God in the end of times. It was a future ideal rule of God with his people. When Jesus used that term He was talking about something quite different. It was something more internal than external. It was something right now and not just out there in some distant future. It was something that was more eternal than temporal. In Matthew 13 Jesus gave many parables to explain it’s meaning –
- 24 “…The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.”
- 31 “…The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed… 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
- 33 “…The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
- 44 “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
- 45 “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls…”
- 47 “the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind..”
Even though Jesus tried again and again to explain the meaning of the kingdom of heaven to his disciples they still didn’t get it. In fact, even after his resurrection in Acts 1:6 they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” I can picture Jesus shaking his head when he said in verse 7 “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But then he made the statement that holds the clue to the meaning of the kingdom of heaven – 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The kingdom of heaven/God has to do with the Holy Spirit.
Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say it during his ministry? As John 7:39 says, “the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” They were not ready for the Holy Spirit. It would’ve been too confusing for them. He said a few things about the Holy Spirit – the comforter – the focus was still the cross.
So what is the kingdom of heaven/God? It is the rule of God through the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who have received Jesus as their Savior.
Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Application: Are you in the kingdom of heaven/God? Are you living in the power, control, and direction of the Holy Spirit? How do you get into this kingdom? Matthew 18:3 “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
2. WHO ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT?
Background: When we hear that phrase “poor in spirit” we immediately think of someone who is down on life, downcast, melancholy, and gloomy. Someone kind of like Eeyore – “Good morning Pooh Bear, if it is a good morning, which I doubt.” “It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.” As someone said, “People like that brighten up a room just by leaving it.” They’re always fishing for sympathy. That’s not what this is.
I think to truly understand the meaning of “poor in spirit” you have to think the opposite of “rich in spirit” – someone who is rich in self or full of SELF – self-confident, self-assured, self-reliant, self-made, self-centered, self-righteous, self-seeking, self-preserving, and self-sufficient. In other words, they are SELFISH. It may be a lot or a little but they are rich in their spirit.
“Poor in spirit” is just the opposite. These are people who have very little of self. They’ve come face to face with their abilities, weaknesses, and limitations. They’ve come to realize that all that they are and all that they have is by the grace of God. They truly believe that they are unworthy and undeserving. Please don’t misunderstand – it’s not that they have a poor self-esteem; they just have a proper esteem of self. It’s not that they’re insecure but they realize that their security is not in self. In fact, many of them are very rich, very talented, and very successful. It’s not about that. The poor in spirit are simply grateful that God and people think as well of them and treat them as well as they do. Just like the poor when they get that dollar they’re grateful.
How do people get this way? It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It’s called the breaking process – breaking our self down and replacing it with his self. He does it in many ways –
- He does it through the teaching of the Bible. In Matthew 18:4 Jesus said “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Messages like this remind us of how much we are to humble ourselves before God and how much we are to let him control our lives.
- He’s does it through our pain and our circumstances. Not always but sometimes he uses our needs and suffering to remind us of our poverty. 2 Corinthians 12 Paul said 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- He does it through the examples of other people. I remember growing up and missionary by the name of Dr. Fred Schelander. He was a mentor to my dad. He lived next door and would eat with us almost every day. He was a scholar in biblical languages. He translated of the Bible into Marathi. I used to sit on his lap and he would read books to me. I’ve never met a man so “poor in spirit.” One time a man came to him begging for some shoes. Keep in mind – the British used to rule India and some of the officers were quite hateful. But when this man asked Dr. Schelander he immediately began to take off his shoes. The man thought that he would beat him with his shoes for daring to ask and he took off running. Dr. Schelander had to chase him down and beg him to take his shoes.
- He does it through our sin life. In his prayer of repentance, David said in Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”
Application: Are you rich in spirit or poor in spirit? Has God taking you through the process of brokenness? If the kingdom of heaven is about the Holy Spirit, how much is he controlling in your life?
3. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?
Background: The Greek word for “blessed” is “makarios.” It comes from the Hebrew word “asre.” We are more familiar with the Hebrew word “baruk,” which means “blessed by God.” If it was “baruk” here then the Greek word would have been “eulogetes.” But “makarios” from the Hebrew “asre” is not restricted to just being blessed by God. It has a wider meaning. Yes – it does carry the connotation that God looks at you favorably but it doesn’t stop there. I think the best translation may not be literal but it communicates the sense best. It is something like “You’ve got it good” or “You’ve got it made.” You bring blessing to others. When people come across you they’re not threatened by you or your self. Instead, they are drawn to you and they want to know the secret of the hope that is within you. They want to know how they can have a life that is not controlled by circumstances. They want to know how they can have a life that is directed by God. They want to know how they too can be blessed.
Our brokenness not only blesses us but also blesses those around us. By the way, this has always been God’s way as Paul says in I Corinthians 1 27 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
The way up is down so that God gets the glory.
For e.g. I remember as a little boy going to a small village in India where we had planted a church. Those Christians lived in these tiny huts, no bigger than 10X10. They had hardly anything. Then in the evening we would have worship and preaching and it was amazing to watch them sing. They sang from their hearts. They sang as if they had it made!
For e.g. I also remember a very wealthy man in our church who sat on the floor with those village Christians and worshipped with them.
Application: How do you look at your life? Are you looking down at yourself because things don’t seem to working out as you wished they would have? Have you lost hope and become skeptical because it’s not all sunny in your life? Are you surrendered to the Holy Spirit and His work of brokenness in your life? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Are you being the Salt and Light to people around you?