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Less is More, More or Less

A closer look at Jesus' first beatitude
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Beatitudes". See series.


A few months ago my two teenage sons came to me and asked if they could go camping for a week … on Lower Wacker Drive in the city of Chicago! They wanted to spend a week living with the homeless. They'd gotten the idea from a book they'd recently read about being a radical Christian. The writer of the book wanted to identify with the poor, so he moved out of his house and lived with the homeless. I'm afraid that when my sons told me about their plan, I was less than enthusiastic. "If you want to help the homeless," I said, "get a job, and donate your money to some Christian organization that works with the poor and the homeless." They rolled their eyes at me.

I suppose I should have been more sympathetic. I appreciate the fact that they want to do something for the poor. But I'm afraid they have a romanticized view of poverty. You see, I've never viewed poverty as a good thing. It has never seemed to me as something to which I should aspire. So what am I to make of Jesus' opening statement in the Sermon on the Mount where he seems to say there is a blessing in poverty?

Here in Matthew 5:3, Jesus tells us that less is more, more or less. Jesus says that when it comes to the spiritual realm, it is better to have less than more. In the economy of the Kingdom of Heaven, less is more. To those of us who have lived most of our lives in prosperity, this is strange math; it was pretty strange math in Jesus' day as well. Before we ask what Jesus means by this first beatitude, we need to consider what the Bible has to say in general about the poor.

To put it simply, God has concern for the poor. In the Old Testament, serving the poor was a point of law. Deuteronomy 15:7 commanded: "If there is a poor man among your ...

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John Koessler is professor and chair of the Pastoral Studies Department at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

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Sermon Outline:


I. In the kingdom of heaven, less is more when it compels us to see our need.

II. In the kingdom of heaven, less is more when it prompts us to call upon Christ.

III. In the kingdom of heaven, less is more when it helps us to focus on our inheritance.