The Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3

To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of ourselves; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God; to be willing to be where God places us, to bear what he lays on us, to go where he bids us, and to die when he commands; to be willing to be in his hands, and to feel that we deserve no favor from him. It is opposed to pride, and vanity, and ambition.

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, Barnes Notes

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Stand like a Pillar

” But Mordecai bowed not.” – Esther 3:2

There was stern stuff in this old Jew. He was not going to prostrate himself before one so haughty and so depraved as Haman, albeit that he was the king’s favorite. To be the only one in a city office that does not laugh at the questionable story; to stand alone on shipboard against the gambling mania; to refuse to countenance cleverness which is divorced from cleanness, and genius which is apart from goodness—this is to do as Mordecai did in the gate of the king’s palace.

Only God can give this power, since of ourselves we are as reeds shaken by the wind. Sooner might a single ear of wheat resist the breeze that bends all its companions in the same direction, than we stand alone, while all our associates bow, unless God himself enable us.

But God is prepared to enable us. Listen: ‘I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right and of my righteousness.’ {Isa. 41:10} But the mistake we are so apt to make is to brace ourselves up by resolution and firm determination, in anticipation of some impending struggle. To do this is to fail. Live in Christ, look up into his face, derive from Him strength for the moment and at the moment; and often wrap about thee that exceeding great and precious promise, ‘I will make him to become a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out; and I will write on him the name of my God.’ Oh to stand like a pillar amid men, bearing up the temple arch of truth, and inscribed with God’s name, while the crowds go and come on the pavement beneath!

F. B. Meyer, Our Daily Homily

He is Deranged

And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. – Mark 3:21

He is beside himself. He is delirious, or deranged, The reason why this report gained any belief was, probably, that our Lord had lived among them as a carpenter; that he was poor, and unknown; and that now, at thirty years of age, he broke off from his occupations, abandoned his common employment, spent much time in the deserts, denied himself the common comforts of life, and set up his claims to be the Messiah, who was expected by all the people to come with great pomp and splendor. The charge of derangement on account of attention to religion has not been confined to our Savior. Let a man be made deeply sensible of his sins, and spend much of his time in prayer, and have no relish for the ordinary amusements or business of life; or let a Christian be much impressed with his obligation to devote himself to God, and act as if he believed there was an eternity, and warn his neighbors of their danger; or let a minister show uncommon zeal, and waste his strength in the service of his Master, and the world is not slow to call it derangement. And none will be more ready to originate or believe the charge than an ungodly and infidel parent or brother; a self-righteous Pharisee or professor in the church. At the same time, men may endanger themselves on the bosom of the deep, or in the bowels of the earth, for wealth; or may plunge into the vortex of fashion, and folly, and vice, and break in upon the hours of repose, and neglect their duties to their family, and the demands of business, and in the view of the world it is wisdom, and proof of a sane mind! Such is the consistency of boasted reason; such the wisdom and prudence of worldly men!

– Albert Barnes, 1798 – 1870, Barnes Notes Commentary