Session #026 The Break First Club
Scripture Matthew 5:3
Summary Being poor in spirit, or brokenness, is not a trait we particularly crave for. And yet, according to Jesus, the first beautitude in Matt 5:3 is foundational to fully appropriating kingdom blessedness. In this teaching, Henson invites all to “The Break First Club”, explaining what true brokenness is and how that positions us to receive the fullness of the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
This is the very first rung of the ladder that we need to step on to climb the upside-down mountain which leads to the kingdom. As the first beatitude, it is a foundational attribute upon which the other beatitudes are built to help us truly understand what it means to be blessed. If ‘break fast’ is the most important meal, brokenness is the most important trait that ushers us into the fullness of kingdom blessedness.
Not A New Concept
This is not a new concept but has already been mentioned in the Old Testament.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.” (Isaiah 61:1a), again declared by Jesus in Luke 4:18
Even though God is “the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy”, He declares that “I dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.” (Isaiah 57:15). When David came to a point of repentance after his grievous sin with Bathsheba, he wrote that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
These verses tell us that the poor and broken hold a special place in the heart of God. To paraphrase Matthew 5:3, Jesus was declaring this old truth – this is the blessedness of brokenness, for to these belong the kingdom of heaven.
Why Be Poor In Spirit?
A person poor in spirit is desperate and helpless in spirit. Some of us judge those who are poor, seeing them as the scum of the earth who deserve their plight. And yet the psalmist tells us that “the Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18 We cannot impress God with our riches (which come from Him anyway), but a broken spirit catches His attention, and in brokenness, God gets our attention. Perhaps when we pray and do not hear Him, it is because we are still too full of ourselves, priding ourselves on religiosity and intellectuality and not recognizing our need to cry out to God. The Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14 – 22 did not recognize their true condition of being wretched and miserable, and instead said they “have acquired wealth and do not need a thing”, and as a result were declared lukewarm and to be spit out of God’s mouth. Only when we realize our true condition of brokenness, we realize we need God and realize the kingdom of heaven.
The Danger of Unbrokenness
In life, we all start out idealistic and full of dreams. While it is good to have all these, youthful enthusiasm is often coupled with youthful pride which we do not have the maturity to recognize. We often start out full of self-sufficiency, our ego and pride thinking we can make it on our own. Yet life takes us through a series of suffering – the cares of this world, the struggles with sin, trials and tribulations, mistakes and failures, sickness and disease – and ultimately we get to the end of our rope, crying that everything is hopeless and meaningless. Some will hold on for dear life, refusing to let go and admit their despair, because that would go against the world’s definition of blessedness – money, fame, power, and success. In doing so, we play into the enemy’s strategy, because he knows that when we keep our eyes on these markers of worldly blessings, we miss the blessings of brokenness in the kingdom of heaven.
As Dallas Willard said, “God’s address is at the end of your rope.” Life has a way of revealing who we truly are. It is a question of when we accept that. What would it take for us to realize we are nothing apart from God? We need more than a Saviour, we need a King to rule over our lives because we run our lives terribly if not for the King and the ways of the kingdom. That point of brokenness is the point where salvation takes place, and we need to keep coming back there with a contrite and humble heart for that is the address where we will find God. When we understand this, we have a better perspective. When we go through trials, we know God is there and we enter into blessedness from learning from the entire situation.
Can We Be Wealthy?
Is Jesus telling us we should not have money? After all, the beatitude only talks about the poor “in spirit”. However, in Luke, it explicitly says this: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God… but woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” (Luke 6:20 – 24). Jesus was following a strand of Jewish thought that saw a close link between poverty and piety, that when God is all you have, God is all you need. Jesus is not saying that having riches is wrong, but rather that we should not look at material wealth as an indicator of blessedness. Furthermore, he also gives a warning of the tendencies that come with wealth.
The first tendency of having wealth is that we tend to shift our trust away from God and towards riches. In Mark 10:17 – 25, we see a rich young ruler who had kept the commandments, but his trust in riches made him unwilling to give up his wealth to follow Jesus. The second tendency is to be deceived by riches, which “choke the word and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). We sacrifice fruitfulness, the indicator of the kingdom, for riches. Thirdly, Paul warns of the tendency that “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” 1 Timothy 6:9 We pursue riches instead of godly contentment, making it hard to let go of them when we think riches are the main goal in life. Finally, there is a tendency for the rich to be proud, but those who are rich are commanded: “not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17) If we have more, praise the Lord and enjoy it, but do not let it be an item of pride. Sometimes we have false modesty and boast that the Lord has blessed us with much, but this is something we must confess. We can praise the Lord and enjoy what we have, but let us not confuse material wealth and prosperity as an indicator of kingdom success and blessedness.
Controlling These Tendencies
The following points from Matthew 6 are the Break First Club Alignment Check to keep us aligned when the world pulls us out of alignment to pursue the wrong things.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21)
What do we define our treasure as? Matthew 5:3 calls us to treasure brokenness, for without brokenness we will not be able to shift where our treasure is and be awakened and aligned.
The lamp of the body is the eye. (Matthew 6:22)
What do we fix our eyes upon? If we look upon and crave material wealth, our body will turn dark. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus instead.
No one can serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24)
Whom do we serve? We need to acknowledge that we need God to deliver us from our own wicked ways, for that is when the kingdom breaks in. If we want to walk a kingdom way, it will be tough unless we go in the Holy Spirit’s power.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
Are we chronic worriers? Have we come to a point where we worry about clamouring after the wrong things to keep us clothed and fed? Jesus says to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, which we will find in the address of God – we will find it in the blessedness of brokenness. This is so upside down which makes it so hard to embrace it. Jesus is saying that in that brokenness, all else that we have been worrying about will be added unto us. We keep thinking about what we possess, but if we want to possess the fullness of the kingdom, we must first be possessed by the King.
When we walk into a gift shop with ceramics or glass, we often see “Nice to see, nice to hold, once broken, considered sold.” We try to keep life together, to keep it beautiful as it can be, and we pay for the consequences if it is broken. The sign hints that no one in their right mind will want something, or someone, that is broken. But here is the promise – there is One who is willing to make that purchase, to embrace what is broken. For that is our state when we come to the Lord, and He paid in full with His blood. This is the value of salvation – the broken Church, purchased in blood with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit, to become the possession of Christ and we are no longer our own. We often say this and yet we live our own lives. True brokenness and poor in spirit do not mean to keep grovelling and condemning ourselves, but to arrive at a point of having an accurate picture of who we are – apart from Christ, we are nothing, and yet in Christ, we are everything (2 Corinthians 4:7 – 12) paints this paradoxical picture of us being “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed”, for although we are earthen vessels who are constantly broken, we are preserved whole by the treasure of the power of God carried within us. We are broken so that the life of Christ can be manifested, for whatever is poured into a broken vessel overflows, so that “death is working in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:12) We will miss this if we think that kingdom blessedness is about what we gain. The world wants cajoling, they are eggs that do not want to be broken with conviction. Eggs look nice, but blessed are they when broken, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.