the poor in spirit
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
I am sure that, when Jesus opened his mouth to teach the Sermon on the mount beginning with these words “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” the disciples and the crowd must be astonished at his teaching, as at the end of the sermon the bible affirms, that, “the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.”—Matt.7:28-29. In every word Jesus taught, He raised the bar higher than the standards set by the Torah. For instance, he would say, “you have heard that it was said…but I tell you…”. When Jesus said “Blessed”, he was talking about the godly blessedness of a person who always spent time with God because of hunger for Him in spirit, like Mary the sister of Martha, who hungered and loved to be at the feet of Jesus. And Jesus himself said about this attitude, “…but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42). “Blessed” (Greek: makar) speaks about a privileged recipient of divine favour.
This blessedness is no ordinary human blessedness. Not like the human blessing or happiness which depends on the external factors and influences and changes accordingly. This divine blessing is far deeper than human happiness. It has heavenly affections, it’s deeper and holier joy in the inner life. This blessedness is inward and abiding. It is the gift of God and it cannot be taken away.
The term “Poor in spirit” probably reminds the disciples of a whole network of Scriptures from the Old Testament, such as Isaiah 61:1, “the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor,” or even Isaiah 66:2, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Also, Zephaniah 2:3 “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.” These biblical phrases shed light on some of the characteristics of the followers of Jesus. Or the characteristics that Jesus’ disciples ought to be. And what follows is the promises of God – theirs is the kingdom in eternity. It also reaffirms that the poor in the spirit are so privileged to be poor for they have direct access to the source of the kingdom.
Dottie Rambo’s song said, “There’s too much to gain to lose.”
You need to see these things from the window of the Holy Spirit, to gain more understanding of what God has in store for you.
To be poor in spirit, we need to follow our Master the Lord Jesus Christ like an obedient disciple. The apostle Paul as an obedient disciple, wrote to the church in Philippi, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”(Phil.2:5-8).
Please note the keywords of being poor in spirit, “made himself nothing”, “very nature of a servant” and “he humbled himself”. By making himself nothing (he emptied himself – Amplified Bible), Christ shows us the way to be “poor in spirit”.
In addition to this, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (8:9) said, “….that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
The spirit is so emptied that only God knows its emptiness, and He alone knows the blessing fit for that soul, the blessedness of the heavenly Kingdom. Then only you can pray,
Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
That’s why “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
Am I poor enough to qualify for the divine blessedness and to be able to say, “your kingdom come…..”?
Who knows maybe this is the right time for us to empty ourselves and to hear the voice saying “O the blessedness of the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
O’ the bliss of those who have realized their own utter helplessness, and who have put their whole trust in God. For thus alone can they render to God that perfect obedience which will make them citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven! –William Barclay