Summary: Who are the "poor in spirit"? Are they rich people with a poverty mentality? Are they poor people who are discouraged? Are they people who don’t have the strength of mind to make it in the world and Jesus wants to take them out?
Matthew 5 - Part 2 - So all of a sudden Bankruptsy is OK?
When we lived in the Ukraine for a month, we witnessed incredible poverty. The beautifully ornate Churches over there have domes which are actually covered in gold leaf, but under them are the beggars. Such a contrast. I noticed at one point some priests driving around in BMW’s, while beggars eked out a basic existence on the charity of those who passed by. In Matthew 5 it speaks about the "poor in spirit".
BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT - for theirs is the kingdom of God.
Who are the "poor in spirit" and why is theirs the kingdom of God?
Is Jesus speaking in code? Are they really rich people who have a poverty mentality?
Are they poor people who have the Holy Spirit?
Are they going to die and go to the "kingdom of God"?
Are they people who just don’t have the right kind of strength of mind to make it in the world and Jesus wants to take them out because it would be a blessing to them and us? Personally I like this last idea but I don’t think that’s what it means.
Why does Jesus want to talk about them to His disciples anyway? This doesn’t sound like leadership training to me. Maybe His disciples were run down and He was encouraging them.
One commentary I picked up said that "the poor in Spirit" are those who "acknowledge their spiritual poverty." So does that mean Spiritual Bankruptsy is OK? Let me explain what I think this passage is talking about.
So the "poor in spirit" could be the spiritual "down and outers" - those who are destitute on a spiritual level. They are hungry for spiritual food, spiritually scrounging for sustenance. They admit their spiritual helplessness and how dependent they really are for God to meet those spiritual needs. I think we are getting somewhere.
I can imagine Thomas saying to Jesus "These crowds are annoying! I doubt if they have a spiritual bone in their body. They are about as far away from the kingdom as you can get. We do have some very distinguished people down there as well, however. I noticed that some of the priests have come and the spiritual leaders."
Jesus says "Those who are spiritually poor - theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I can imagine Him speaking to His disciples saying, "When we go down this hill, you are going to meet spiritually destitute people. They are not lost causes. They are the people we will be healing and teaching and feeding. Don’t reject them because they’re the ones who I see coming under My kingdom authority. They are the ones who acknowledge that they need Me. And don’t get fooled by the self righteous, distinguished looking people who are religious. They need to acknowledge their spiritual poverty too. They need to be saved from their self righteousness and religious veneer. And another thing. Unless you are "poor in spirit" and recognise your need for Me, you are just like them."
What about me? Lord I admit that I need you today. I can’t discover anything spiritually without You in my life.
Jesus said "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
The opposite to being "poor in spirit" is being "full of self, self righteous, not acknowledging your need for Christ." It’s when I don’t acknowledge that I am spiritually destitute, when I don’t acknowledge my need for God spiritually and my need for Christ in my life, that I remain dead in my sins. I may achieve fame, fortune and power, but that’s all poverty living unless I know Christ personally as my Lord and master.
So let me get up close and personal. What about You? Are you willing to admit that you are spiritually poor? Will you admit that you need God for life and eternity and come to Christ so that you can have a personal relationship with God?
Paul gives one of the best explanations of this concept in Philippians 3:8-10. He says,
"everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ ..."
God bless you Church as you acknowledge that your spiritual needs can only be met by God through Christ and you admit your spiritual helplessness and how dependent you really are for God to meet your spiritual needs today.