by Thomas Watson, 1660
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Poverty of Spirit (Continued)
The reasons are:
1. Until we are poor in spirit—we are not capable of receiving grace. He who is swollen with self-excellency and self-sufficiency—is not fit for Christ. He is full already. If the hand is full of pebbles—it cannot receive gold. The glass is first emptied, before you pour in wine. God first empties a man of himself, before he pours in the precious wine of his grace. None but the poor in spirit are within Christ’s commission. ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted’ (Isaiah 61:1), that is, such as are broken in the sense of their unworthiness.
2. Until we are poor in spirit—Christ is never precious. Until we see our own wants, we never see Christ’s worth. Poverty of spirit is salt and seasoning, which makes Christ relish sweet to the soul. Mercy is most welcome to the poor in spirit. He who sees himself clad in filthy rags (Zechariah 3:4,5), what will he give for change of raiment, the righteousness of Christ! What will he give to have the fair mitre of salvation set upon his head! When a man sees himself almost wounded to death—how precious will the balm of Christ’s blood be to him! When he sees himself deep in arrears with God, and is so far from paying the debt that he cannot sum up the debt—how glad would he be for a surety! ‘The pearl of great price’ is only precious to the one who is poor in spirit. He who needs bread and is ready to starve, will have it whatever it cost. He will lay his garment to pledge; bread he must have—or he is undone! So to him who is poor in spirit, who sees his need of Christ—how precious is a Savior! Christ is Christ and grace is grace to him! He will do anything for the bread of life! Therefore will God have the soul thus qualified—to enhance the value and estimate of the Lord Jesus.
3. Until we are poor in spirit—we cannot go to heaven. ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. Poverty of spirit tunes and prepares us for heaven. By nature a man is puffed up with self-esteem, and the gate of heaven is so narrow that he cannot enter. Now poverty of spirit lessens the soul; it pares off its superfluity, and now he is fit to enter in at the ‘narrow gate’. The great rope cannot go through the eye of the needle—but let it be untwisted and made into small threads, and then it may. Poverty of spirit untwists the great rope. It makes a man little in his own eyes, and now an entrance shall be made unto him, ‘richly into the everlasting Kingdom’ (2 Peter 1:11). Through this temple of poverty, we must go into the temple of glory.
It shows wherein a Christian’s riches consist, namely in poverty of spirit. Some think if they can fill their bags with gold—and then they are rich. But those who are poor in spirit, are the rich men. They are rich in poverty. This poverty entitles them to a kingdom! How poor are those who think themselves rich! How rich are those who see themselves poor! I call it the ‘jewel of poverty’. There are some paradoxes in piety which the world cannot understand; for a man to become a fool that he may be wise (1 Corinthians 3:18); to save his life by losing it (Matthew 16:25); and by being poor to be rich. Carnal reason laughs at it—but ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom’. Then this poverty is to be striven for more than all riches. Under these rags, is hidden cloth of gold. Out of this carcass comes honey.
If blessed are the poor in spirit, then by the rule of contraries, cursed are the proud in spirit (Proverbs 16:5). There is a generation of men who commit idolatry with themselves; no such idol as self! They admire their own parts, moralities, self-righteousness; and upon this stock graft the hope of their salvation. There are many too good to go to heaven. They have commodities enough of their own growth, and they scorn to live upon the borrow, or to be indebted to Christ. These bladders the Devil has blown up with pride, and they are swelled in their own conceit; but it is like the swelling of a dropsy man whose bigness is his disease. Thus it was with that proud justiciary: ‘The Pharisee stood and prayed, God, I thank you that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican; I fast twice in the week, I give tithes …’ (Luke 18:11). Here was a man setting up the topsail of pride; but the publican, who was poor in spirit, stood afar off and would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven—but smote upon his breast saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ This man carried away the garland. ‘I tell you’ (says Christ) ‘this man went down to his house justified rather than the other’. Paul before his conversion, thought himself in a very good condition, ‘touching the law, blameless’ (Philippians 3:6). He thought to have built a tower of his own righteousness, the top whereof should have reached to heaven; but, at last, God showed him there was a crack in the foundation, and then he gets into the ‘rock of ages’. ‘That I may be found in him’ (Philippians 3:9). There is not a more dangerous precipice than self-righteousness. This was Laodicea’s temper: ‘Because you say I am rich and I have need of nothing . . .’ (Revelation 3:17). She thought she wanted nothing when indeed she had nothing. How many does this damn! We see some ships that have escaped the rocks—yet are cast away upon the sands; so some who have escaped the rocks of gross sins—yet are cast away upon the sands of self-righteousness; and how hard is it to convince such men of their danger! They will not believe but that they may be helped out of their dungeon with these rotten rags. They cannot be persuaded their case is so bad as others would make it. Christ tells them they are blind—but they are like Seneca’s maid, who was born blind—but she would not believe it. The house, says she, is dark—but I am not blind. Christ tells them they are naked, and offers his white robe to cover them—but they are of a different persuasion; and because they are blind, they cannot see themselves naked. How many have perished by being their own saviors! O that this might drive the proud sinner out of himself! A man never comes to himself until he comes out of himself. And no man can come out, until first Christ comes in.