Summary: God's eternity is received only when we realize that we cannot attain it on our own but must rely on God's grace-we must be poor in spirit.
How to Inherit God’s Kingdom
I suppose since time began people have made a mad pursuit to find happiness. Many have tried money. One such Texas millionaire said; “I thought money could buy happiness. I have been miserably disillusioned.” Actress Sophie Tucker obviously thought differently. When asked about her early struggles for success and whether or not she had found a certain happiness in her years of poverty, she answered, “Listen, I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor. And believe me, rich is better.”
Others have thought happiness came with notoriety. Voltaire, a famous individual in Europe during the 18th century, said to his doctor as he lay dying, “I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months’ life.” Still others have looked for happiness in political power. One of the world’s greatest statesmen said to Billy Graham, “I am an old man. Life has lost all meaning. I am ready to take a fateful leap into the unknown.”
True happiness comes when we give up our efforts to find happiness and simply receive it as God’s free gift to us. Happiness comes when we receive forgiveness of our sins, sins that Christ paid for on Calvary. It comes when we study and apply the very practical ways Christ has taught us to find happiness.
As Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount, he gives a series of conditional sayings that we call the Beatitudes. This means a state of happiness or a state of bliss. The intention of Christ in making these statements is that people could be happy. It is God’s desire that his people be happy, not sad. Sadness and unhappiness are not signs of godliness and should not be a constant state in the Christian’s life.
The happiness Jesus says will result from obeying these statements is not just an outward happiness but an inward contentment that can be experienced no matter what the circumstances around us or in our life might be. It is a state of peace we can enjoy no matter how difficult things may be in our life.
The word blessed means happy, fortunate or blissful and in this light is a characteristic of God. The only way we can experience this happiness is to have the nature of God within us. Now we have all been created in the image of God, but that image is now marred in humanity due to our rebellion against God. So the only way we can now achieve happiness is by restoring our relationship with him. No unbeliever can expect to have the kind of happiness Jesus speaks of in these verses.
Not only must we have a relationship with God but we must also be true in our obedience to him. Some of these Beatitudes seem as if they would lead to misery but it is the kind of misery that will in reality lead to happiness.
WE CANNOT INHERIT GOD’S KINGDOM OURSELVES
The first thing Jesus says is that those who would inherit God’s kingdom must be poor in spirit or, as one translation puts it, must realize their need for him. Poor means to shrink cower or cringe.
Our image of poor is probably not what Jesus has in mind here. There are many people in America who are classified as poor but when compared with the poor of other developing countries would be considered rich. A person with an annual income of $12,000 in America is considered poor, but what about the person in another country who only makes $800 annually.
The word poor should bring to mind a beggar; one who does not know where his next meal will come from or his next night’s sleep. The beggars of Jesus’ day would beg for money and cover their faces so that no one would know who they were. So it does not describe one who does not have much but one who has nothing at all.
Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes is important at this point. Luke’s account simply says, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is given to you.” Matthew adds the most important words, “in spirit.” This helps us to know that Jesus is not speaking about poverty in the material realm. If Jesus’ words referred to material poverty then it would be an unchristian thing for Christians to try and alleviate the burdens of the poor, starving and destitute. In doing those things we would be abolishing what brings them closer to God. Jesus is not referring to material poverty.
Neither is Jesus referring to being poor-spirited. A poor-spirited person is one who lacks drive and enthusiasm in life. They have a healthy dose of low self-esteem.