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The Essence of Discipleship (part 1) (by Wil Cunningham)

The Essence of Discipleship (part 1).

Reading: MAT 5:3
Jesus’ sermon in Mat 5-7 shows the way of blessing for a disciple of Christ. Each of the simple statements in verses 5-10 contain a wealth of information on which we may meditate, ponder and direct our lives. They show the essence of what it means to be a disciple and the essence of a life of blessing. The first statement, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, is foundational to our spiritual lives.
The word “blessed” implies happiness, fulfillment and everything necessary for a life of joy and peace. The word used for “poor” in the Greek (in which this passage was written) speaks of the poverty of a beggar, one who is powerless to enrich himself (Vine, W.E. (1997) Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Thomas Nelson Inc. Nashville). The passage does not speak of poverty in the general sense but of poverty in spirit. It is a call for us to recognize that spiritual life is beyond our capabilities. Since it is spiritual life from which all good things come, and which alone will last forever, we must also recognize that we can accomplish nothing of lasting value. As humans our physical, mental/emotional and spiritual capacities are all connected, so each thought, word or action will impact our spiritual reality. So then if we are incapable of any spiritual good we are also incapable in each of our moments. This recognition is half of what it means to be “poor in spirit”.
The second half of the equation is a recognition of God’s abundance. Where we are incapable He is powerful. Where we are poverty stricken He possesses all spiritual riches. Not only does He possess these things, He is happy to give them to us (JAM 1:17, LUK 12:32). So in the encouragement to be “poor in spirit” there is recognition of both our inability and need and of God’s ability and desire to fulfill. We, to be blessed, must at all times place ourselves at the mercy of God, who is willing to give good gifts to His children (MAT 7:11).
This is first an act of faith. We approach God believing that we are weak but He is strong, that where our need is, He is able to fulfill. Faith also accepts that what God allows is what is needed. Secondly, it is an act of focus. Since we are poor in every moment, we must in every moment be connected with God through communication and intimacy (1 Th 5:17). The only power we do have, is the power of choice. Those who recognize their poverty of spirit will choose to place themselves in the presence of God, rather than give in to the distractions of life. As we enter into God’s kingdom, by subordinating our life to Him, we will see His power evident in our lives. Joy and thanksgiving will be our defining characteristics, as He shows His presence to be greater than all earthly riches (PSA 16:11).
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