“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:3
Poverty is not something we desire. Most work against it and the insecurities that it brings. Still, it does teach us something of immense value. It teaches us humility before and dependence upon God. It is those “poor in spirit” that God blesses with salvation. As James 4:7-10 reads,
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
What does it mean to be blessed? This is first a word that we will see repeatedly in this passage so it would be good to make sure we have a better understanding of it. In looking at Scripture we see such uses like in the book of proverbs where it speaks of worldly well-being. Blessing is conferred upon those who live in conformity with the principles prescribed by God (Pro. 3:13, Prov. 8:32). Then we also see in Scripture that blessing designates a future apocalyptic blessing as it is directed at those who in the end times (Dan. 12:12). In the second instance, the blessing is more than about flourishing but it is a formal assurance of salvation! Therefore, being blessed of God not only regards the state of our well-being but is a way to describe the state of our soul before God. In fact, the greatest blessing from God is salvation. Though the Greek word for blessed is means “happy” and the Hebrew means to “praise,” there truly is nothing happier or more praiseworthy than the salvation Jesus has brought.
Now we can move on to what it means to be “poor in Spirit?” The word “poor” is a verb in the Greek that signifies, “bowing, or crouching like a beggar.” It is a stronger than the idea of just not having anything. It refers to the humility of needing to beg and depends on the mercy of others. This picture is followed by a reference to how this person is poor – poor with respect to the spirit! A certain relationship is established in this phrase. The poverty here referred is not one that is speaking to our physical or spiritual lack, but the position of heart towards God. Most likely Jesus is referring to the same idea the psalmist has in Psalm 34:6, “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” Thank the Lord!
We could launch into a study of Romans from here and our inability to save ourselves. We could wade through the teachings that God provides for our daily and greatest needs. God is our provider and by His grace and mercy we have one who is on our side. Knowing that we can do nothing for ourselves, that Jesus is on our side, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 5:5). We humbly come before God, with confidence, that He will hear our cries.
What does he do when we cry out to him? We receive the kingdom of Heaven. It is true that these blessed attitudes do contain a present and future tense to them, but one thing that Jesus did is bring future realities into present day believers. In fact, in this same sermon Jesus will teach us to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). The kingdom of heaven is present now as Jesus said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
The kingdom of heaven is something already accomplished and being accomplished. It’s a difficult concept but the kingdom is ours now, and will be ours in future. In its progress it will us all all that God still has laid up for us! In regards to salvation, it is that we are saved from future wrath but we can enjoy the present reality of being forgiven now. In regard to healing, we look forward to a future healing but through Christ we can receive healing now. In regard to need, all social injustices and lack will be fully taken care of but we can indeed receive material help in our time of need.
How does it start? Through the poorness of our spirit before our awesome Savior. Let us cry out to the Lord for every need!