(Matthew 16:24) – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
We are studying five primary goals of the Christian life, taking each goal in three steps of natural progression: knowledge (head), conviction (heart), and action (hands). All five goals are:
- Living Like Christ
- Proclaiming Christ
- Serving Like Christ
- Worshipping Christ
- Fellowship in Christ
Now that we have the knowledge (head) that we need to proclaim Christ to others, we must cultivate the proper attitude and motivation to do so (heart, conviction). It is one thing to KNOW we must share our faith, it’s quite another to be truly convicted of the reasons for it.
First, I believe that the conviction to share Christ comes from being “poor in spirit”.
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)
Most sermons or teaching I hear on this completely miss the meaning of this phrase. We hear lessons about humility and the idea of understanding we are “small” compared to God. While there is some truth in those perspectives, it doesn’t come close to the depth of the phrase.
To be “poor in spirit” means to realize, recognize and understand your total “lostness” and inability to do anything about it. Picture a blind, deaf and dumb, paralyzed beggar in a poverty stricken, war-torn country. They are at the total mercy of others. They cannot work for themselves. They can obtain anything for themselves. They cannot improve their situation by their own effort. They have absolutely no personal means by which to do anything about their need. They need to be rescued by someone else. They are at the total discretion, mercy and whim of someone else to help them.
THAT is being “poor in spirit”. When we have a correct understanding of what it means to be lost, unsaved and separated from God, we understand this description. We are sinners, slaves to wickedness. We can do NOTHING to merit, earn or demand salvation. We can do nothing to change, improve or remedy our situation. We are in total need of being rescued by God. If He does not do it, we are doomed. We are HELPLESS and dependent on someone saving us.
That is being “poor in spirit”… far more than just being humble. What does this have to do with proclaiming Christ?
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. (NKJV)
We can be truly merciful because we are “poor in spirit”. We realize that other peole are in the same situation we were in. They need to be rescued. They are lost. They are helpless. Mercy is recognizing this and doing what we can for them. What can we do? Tell them about the RESCUER! When we understand “poor in spirit” we have no problem with being genuinely and properly convicted about proclaiming Christ to others through our lives, our mouths and our choices.
When it gets right down to it, there is really only thing that matters in this life: when this “vapor” of temporary life is over, where will you spend eternity? A million years into eternity, what do you think we will look back and consider IMPORTANT in this life? It’s not that accumulating wealth, or having fun, or pursuing goals is a waste of time. However, those things are only SUCCESSFUL to the degree they are joined with the opportunity and effort to rescue as many “poor in spirit” as possible (more on this later).
Does that mean we must do it personally or is this the job of full time ministry workers and church programs? It’s a fair question. We can’t expect new Believers to have the answers, even for questions that mature Believers see as “obvious”.
Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (NKJV)
We have a personal responsibility, as well as a corporate responsibility (which is what? Personal responsibility pooled together). Notice the use over and over of “YOU” in the verses referring to both individual and the whole Body corporately. Again, there is no “corporate” without “individual”. Hardly a groundbreaking revelation, but it is important that we are convicted and committed to the PERSONAL proclamation of Christ in our individual lives.
Another important factor is that we understand what is truly important in life.
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NKJV)
Proclaiming Christ is the greatest treasure, greatest gift and greatest investment we can ever expend our life energy on. When we are having a “spiritual” conversation, we nod our heads in agreement with this statement… but regrettably, our calendars, checkbooks and actions do not line up accordingly. It’s easy to talk about and agree that proclaiming Christ is our greatest opportunity… it’s quite another to actually live like it.
Again, to emphasize, it’s not that work, money, education, goals and other pursuits are a waste of time. The value of them will be ultimately determined by how much they became and opportunity to achieve the ultimate goal: proclaiming Christ the Rescuer to the poor in spirit.
In the next part, we talk about “living like it”… putting conviction into action (hands). Does everyone have to be an evangelist? Must you “witness” to every single person you run across, no matter how brief? Is there a set method for witnessing? We’ll discussing those things next time as discover how to move proclaiming Christ from our hearts (conviction) to our hands (action).
Lord God, help us to be committed, for the right reasons, to proclaiming Christ in every way, every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?