On Sunday, the greatest preacher that I have ever known was our speaker at Thomas Road Baptist Church. It was my father, Jerry Falwell. We went back and found a message dad gave in 1975, wherein he discussed the proper way for Christians to live for God. It was so pertinent and timely, I felt we needed to see it again.
Today, I would like to recount what dad addressed in that special service. His text was Matthew 5:3, which reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (NKJV).
What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Dad said this: “Until you see yourself as the worst person who ever lived, you haven’t really become poor in spirit.” The Apostle Paul identified himself this way, even though today we see him as one of the giants of the faith. We need this type of humility in our churches today because we are in a battle to win the souls of people to Christ. There is no room for pettiness or haughtiness or competition. We need to be unified, living holy lives so that we are always drawing attention to Christ, and Christ alone.
Later in Matthew 5, we see Jesus instructing us how to remain poor in spirit. We should hunger for righteousness, be merciful, be peacemakers and pure of heart. It’s tough to live this way, I know, but if we want the power of Christ in our lives and if we want to see our families following the Lord, we will forsake all in order to be meek, humble servants of Christ.
Dad also noted that we, as followers of Christ, need to be broken about our shortcomings and failings. Living for Christ is a serious thing. As dad said, “When you come to God with Holy Ghost conviction of sin, dear friend, you’ll come with brokenness.”
The great English missionary and Bible translator Norman Grubb (1895-1993) stated, “Just as a man must come to a place of despair in his unredeemed self in order for God to save him, he must also come to a place of despair in his redeemed self before God can use him.”
In his sermon, dad discussed a night when he was studying the Word and reading Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Life,” and God moved in his heart in an amazing way. Dad said, “On that night, I came to know the fullness of His Spirit.” Dad noted that this “encounter with the Lord” was just as real as His first experience with Christ at salvation. Indeed, looking back now, I believe this great moment in dad’s life was God preparing him for the amazing and sometimes difficult tasks that lay before him. What a mighty God we serve, dear friends.
Are you poor in spirit? Are you living for Christ to the point that your family knows you as a humble, willing servant of the Lord Jesus? Do your neighbors know you as a merciful, selfless friend? Do your co-workers identify you as a godly leader, a peacemaker? If we want to have a life of impact for Christ, you will be living for Him — you will be identified as one of His by all who know you. Living for ourselves is always an impediment to the Gospel, but living for Christ brings glory and honor to Him and points people to the One who wants to save their souls.
This world is in an ugly mess. God calls us, His followers, to be the difference. People everywhere are looking for a little mercy, a little love, a bit of respect, an act of kindness. If you know Jesus as your Savior, be a person of goodwill — be willing to get your hands dirty in ministry — and see how God allows your life to have new meaning for eternity! Let’s be people who are poor in spirit, but rich in our faith and service to the One who gave all for us.