Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Poor in Spirit

By Benjamin H. Liles

          While at the store this morning, getting some food my wife and I need for our home, it was impressed upon me, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Jesus taught (Matthew 5:3, New King James). It's an interesting thing to me as well. My wife and I don't receive much for the course of the month. But what exactly is Christ, the Messiah, saying in that verse? While I looked up what poor is in Greek, for that's the language the New Testament is written in, one gets a sense that the idea of poor is as how a beggar comes forward: begging, cowering, crouching.

          Matthew continues on with what Jesus taught, writing, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:4-6). So go the verses of what are known as the Beatitudes. What is the whole point of these sets of verses? What people is Jesus referring these verses to?

          One article says the Beatitudes are "blessed saying" while another says of them "statements of characteristics and blessing." It comes across as "blessings for the righteous" (see Psalm 1:1-3, 6). In fact, when I was looking for a cross reference on the Beatitudes Psalm 1:1-6 came up! It says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or set foot on the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers...For the LORD guards the path of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish." 



          It seems that Jesus of Nazareth, the man most Christ-followers call the Christ, the Messiah wasn't just a great man spouting off great and vast richness of the wisdom of God. John, his closest and dearest disciple says of Jesus, "He was with God in the beginning...In Him was life, and that life was the light of men" (John 1:2, 4), and a bit later he writes again of Jesus, "Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (John 3:20, Berean Study). But that's neither here nor there (but this is unimportant, for the time being). 

          In the manner of all things what Jesus is saying at the beginning of Matthew 5 with these beatitudes is that it is best to realize just how poor, how destitute we are in the eyes of God. Think about how Jesus phrases the very first of these beatitudes, these blessings: "Blessed are the [humble], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." If pride is the opposite of humble and means "Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others," then it behooves those in Christ to behave not in the same manner as those who are called and known as Pharisees. 

          Yes, Jesus is the light of all men. He came so as not to abolish the law, as He Himself said, but to "fulfill" (Matthew 5:17, New King James). The whole reason Jesus gave the beatitudes was to bring a whole segment of people unto Himself. A set of people who were tired of being treated with disdain, discomfort, mistreatment, and as malcontents. The Pharisees had in their mindset they were worthy of God coming to avenge them due to their own interpretation of the Law and Prophets, but they were primarily the one set of people who were committing atrocities in God's name, and they were Jewish at that! 



          Don't get me wrong here: I'm not anti-Semitic in the least bit. I've done my homework even on my own family. When I am able to have the means I'd love to find out if my DNA says the same thing as my family tree does. It doesn't mean I can bank on my heritage or even my family history; rather, I want to know where my family and I have come from to learn from the mistakes made from history and do what I know God would allow of me. 

          When I thought on that phrase that was so impressed upon me earlier, "Blessed are the poor in spirit (the humble)...," I thought of my own condition before the Lord. Knowing Jesus came to die in my place, taking the punishment that was to be mine creates this sense of poverty within my heart that a righteous man bore my sins on the cross. There are many who would stand and say things such as, "Christ never died," or even "He's not even God's Son," but my heart of hearts says this Jesus, this man in first century Judea, occupied by the Romans, law delegated by the leading Jews (mainly the Pharisees), plotted to get rid of a man who claimed He wasn't just God, but was the very Son of God.

         Between the words of Matthew 5:3, and Psalm 1 I'd much rather be declared poor in spirit. For God alone is man's salvation, and that alone is found in the Messiah Jesus. He died, was buried in a rich man's tomb, rose again on the third day, and was seen by countless many people; the first of them being women (see Matthew 28:9; Mark 16:9; John 20:14). I put my trust and faith in what God says about me and His Son as set forth in the Bible, not a different gospel that provides a simple man as Savior. For mankind has a bad heart and sinful before a just and righteous God. Jesus alone is Lord and Savior! Amen.

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