The Beatitudes: 1. Poverty

The Beatitudes: 1. Poverty

The Beatitudes: 1. Poverty.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:3).

You will shout for joy when you are spiritually helpless like a bankrupt beggar knocking at the gate of the King, hat in hand. Congratulations! When your spirit is poverty-stricken and you have no option but to place yourself at the mercy of God, He will open the gates to His Kingdom and welcome you in!

This first Beatitude opens the door to the remaining Beatitudes. How blessed you are, Jesus is saying, when you have nothing to spiritually offer the Lord. He will embrace your poverty and your humble status. God knows that it is healthiest when someone recognizes he is not equal partners with God. The spiritual reality is that human beings have a lopsided relationship with the Almighty Lord. Spiritual prosperity is experienced when someone realizes he has nothing to offer but himself.

The Greek word for “poor” means completely destitute. The root word points to the action of cowering or crouching like a beggar. The poor in spirit are to be envied because they know they have empty pockets and are in a state of dependency. Jesus is saying that the empty-handed are so very fortunate, for only the down and out can come up and in. Only the poor in spirit are fit to receive God’s Kingdom. There are some scholars that believe “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” means that the Kingdom will primarily consist of people with this trait.

So for those who are poor in spirit, the pressure is off! We don’t have to be good enough to approach the King. We don’t have to pretend we are full. We don’t have to appear spiritually gifted or ambitious. God knows we are empty and helpless, and is thus prepared to offer us spiritual fullness through His presence and power. Only the poverty-stricken are able to open God’s treasure house. The spiritually destitute shall surely become spiritually prosperous.

“My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2).

“This is what the high and lofty one says – he who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: ‘I live in the high and holy place, but also with those whose spirits are contrite and lowly, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15).

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”  (James 4:10).

“I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man’s understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.”  (Proverbs 30:2-3).

“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.” (Psalm 72:12-13).