"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
Our verse today comes from the widely known and loved Sermon on the Mount. It is one of the five long discourses found in Matthew.
Chapters 5-7 does not focus on the way of salvation, but the way we are to live righteously. Jesus begins with the Beatitudes. It had been some time since I last pondered these verses, and I have always found the first one complex. I really never understood what Jesus meant until I took the time to prayerfully research the meaning of being poor in spirit.
Blessed means happy. It applies to the inner qualities of the true followers of Christ in sharp contrast to the qualities of the Pharisees. They were proud, thinking they had already attained righteousness on their own, focusing on the external rather than the internal. They were full of self righteous, religious deeds.
When I read Jesus’ words saying we were blessed if we are poor in spirit, with my natural mind, I could not comprehend that being a good thing until I read this definition of being poor in spirit: to acknowledge our deepest human need for God, and to grow in that longing and that dependence on a daily basis. I immediately realized, yes, I qualify, and I do desire to remain poor in spirit!
Some examples of being poor in spirit are: all trust in God to provide for their needs; all are detached from wealth or honor; and they all love God more than wealth and honor. Whoever possesses these qualities shall inherit the kingdom of God.
These revelations also made me think of the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus prayed:
"Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." ( Matthew 6:9-13)
For us to become an answer to the prayer Jesus prayed to the Father we must acquire the inner qualities of kingdom living while on this earth.
And how do we acquire this? By determining in our hearts we are going to love Him above all else, and allow Him to love us more than anyone else. If we get our priorities right, it will define our relationships in all areas of life. If we who confess to belong to Him would do this daily we would change the face of our society starting with the American church.
Striving for healthy relationships is more difficult than performing good deeds. It requires changing from within. We have to constantly ask for truth in our innermost being. The focus isn’t any longer on trying to change everyone else, but allowing the Lord to develop His character within us. It comes from daily correction and repentance as we allow Him to set us free from our own sinful nature. We all have the same flesh which will always manifest love of self over others without the help of the Holy Spirit, which we all have living inside of us if we are true followers of Christ.
Being poor in spirit is realizing our total dependency on Him in all areas of our lives. It is a hunger and a thirst for righteousness above all else. The fourth beatitude reads:
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6
What a wonderful promise to those who truly do hunger and thirst for righteousness. Unfortunately I encounter few people who project this in their speech or actions. Jesus is on the bottom of the totem poles in most lives, and seems to always get the leftovers. So then we must pray for a hunger and a thirst for righteousness which is synonymous with praying for a hunger for the Word of God.
This is exactly what I had to do as a new believer. When I read Psalm 119 I realized I did not love the Word of God as I read David’s great love for scripture. Please take time to read this Psalm, and allow it to become your standard and prayer on how to love God’s words. This is a decision made I have never regretted, and I have continued to reap great benefits throughout my life from doing so.
When you finish reading the Beatitudes Jesus says this to His disciples:
You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:13-15
Notice our good works are to glorify the Father, not ourselves, or to seek glory from each other. May we all pray to become poor in spirit as we look at God’s Word this morning for guidance and truth. Let us pray for a hunger and thirst for righteousness and strive to place the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit above all else in our lives that all things may be added.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things will be added unto you."
In His love
"Blessed are those who knows their strength comes from the Lord."
Yesterday I participated for the first time in a half marathon, Whiskey Tango Fox Trot Trail Run, in Gibsonville, NC at Northeast Park. Low temperatures and high winds made the two river crossings a chilling memory. My shoe strings were frozen solid! It was a great run! How I appreciated the volunteers who stood out in the cold for hours!!