The Blessed Poor

March 9, 2017

The Blessed Poor

One of the beatitudes says “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). This sounds like a contradiction. What is blessed about being poor? We need to find the right interpretation of this beatitude. Jesus didn’t say anything that doesn’t make sense. If we go to the Greek to find the meaning of the words “blessed” and “poor” it appears to be an even greater contradiction.

The word blessed means to be highly favored. It was used to speak of the one that others looked up to with envy and said “I wish I was as fortunate as he is.” The word poor speaks of those who had little they could call their own. They were often dependent on the mercy of relatives and friends to supply their needs. Some sat on the street begging.

To find a logical explanation of this beatitude we need to look at it in the light of our relationship to spiritual things. Jesus said the poor “in spirit.” If those two words were left out we might have reason to accuse Jesus of having said something that didn’t make sense. If we take into consideration the words “in spirit” there is more than one explanation of this beatitude.

This beatitude could be applied to the one who stands at the threshold of becoming a child of God. He has heard that Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice so that he could be forgiven by God and be received into the family of God. He has come to the realization of his poverty in relation to spiritual things. There are many who trust in their own merits. They think “I have done a lot of good things. That should count for something.” Such people are ignorant of, or haven’t accepted the teaching of the Bible that says that we don’t get to heaven by our own merits. Titus 3:5 says “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The blessed one in this beatitude is the one that has come to the reality that God has every right to condemn him. In fact John 3:18 says he is already condemned. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

This man is blessed because multitudes don’t have the understanding that he has. They go on with their life being ignorant of, or indifferent to spiritual realities. They are still under condemnation and destined for eternal damnation. This man, however, has come to the realization of his spiritual need, and is at the point of asking God to forgive him and accept him as one of his children.

Another explanation of this beatitude is that it refers to the genuine Christian who is in the right relationship with God. From his study of the Bible he realizes that he is dependent on God just as the beggar is dependent on the mercy of others. A genuine Christian is one who has submitted his life to God and is willing to obey him. He doesn’t sit back and wait for God to provide for his needs. He has read Proverbs 13:4 and knows that God expects him to provide for his needs. “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” At the same time, he realizes that at any time God could take away his ability to work and provide for his needs.

The obedient Christian looks to God for direction and wisdom in making his decisions. He has read Jeremiah 10:23 that says, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” He is humble and recognizes his need of God and the help of others. He never gets to the place where he is self – sufficient and doesn’t need God. He continually trusts in God as it says in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

The man who is poor in spirit is blessed because of what God does for him each day. Psalm 37:3-5 says “ Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” In this beatitude the promise is that the poor in spirit shall have a special part in the kingdom of heaven. Heavenly rewards shall be ours for all eternity. No one will take them away from us. Their value will far exceed anything on earth that we deem valuable. The poor in spirit have surrendered their life to God. They are willing to be used of God and let him make of them what he wants .

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