It’s All About Perception
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:3 (NRSVACE)
Question: What does it mean to be ‘poor in spirit’?
At first take many of you my brothers and sisters might think it’s being faithless, not have a strong belief in Jesus or in God. Some of you might say that Jesus instructed us to be strong in our spirit as in seeking only spiritual riches, and thus logically speaking not to do such would be being poor in spirit; not seeking, not believing. Yet in the Beatitudes we are being instructed to be poor in spirit.
If for a moment we look at Matthew 6:21;
‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
This further indicates that being poor in spirit is not seeking spiritual richness. For if I am spiritually bankrupt; which Jesus warned against, my heart will be hardened to His divine message and I will be truly lost. However, If I am carrying my own cross then my heart is with God… right?
Not so fast! Jesus being the master teacher gave us a parable to gage this first Beatitude with;
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector
9 “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” ~ Luke 18: 9-14 (NRSVACE)
Question: ‘What is this parable really saying and how does it relate to Matthew 5:3’?
Take a moment and think deeply, pray on it and ask God for His insights. Let it sink into your heart without distraction.
Back to Beatitude Basics
Each part of the first eleven Beatitudes Jesus starts with a blessing; a commendation. To be ‘poor in spirit’ means to be humble before God. It means you have accepted your spiritual bankruptcy before the face of God and have come to Him with a sincere acceptance that you are sinners first. To Jesus, this is commendable worthy of His praise. People who are humble never boast, never taught, never think of themselves above all others, and most of all humble people listen intently to every word that comes from God allowing it to envelop every aspect of their lives. To be ‘poor in spirit’ is an honest confession of your sins and is the deepest form of repentance. Think about how wrong the Pharisee had this very idea and how right the tax collector had it.
Let us all be ‘poor in spirit’, coming to our God with the deepest form of repentance and humility before our God. Truly I say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, this is so relevant to us today as it was during the time of Jesus. I absolutely love how Jesus divided each of the first eleven Beatitudes into two distinctly different parts. The first is a blessing/Commendation, the second is a reward.
3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit…’
If you read between the lines you will hear the words that Jesus did not say… i.e. His attitude towards those who cast off the worldly riches and instead humbled their hearts and followed Him. To those people in all time periods, Jesus is saying to us through His blessing/commendation that, ‘I hear you.’ How wonderful is it to know that God hears us, that God loves us, that God blesses us the unworthy. How blessed we are to have Jesus who is love, is hope, is forgiveness, and mercy all rolled up into one. How truly blessed we are to have Him as our Lord and Savior.
‘…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
When we humble ourselves in every aspect of our lives and seek with sincerity to emulate Jesus in Heart, Mind, Body, And Spirit, with all our strength we are truly changed, we become open to Gods many blessings and He, in turn, begins to mold us into a more perfect version of ourselves, a version more Christ-like. In this, we find our reward, and to those ‘poor in spirit’ i.e. ‘humble in spirit’ our reward is eternal life in heaven. With the proper attitude, you can truly move mounts and change the world. In Christ, there is nothing we cannot do or accomplish.
In Reflection – Desire to Grow
I often wonder how many people changed their attitudes that day once Jesus stopped speaking and moved on. I confess that though I did not witness this event I am still changed after reading how many different ways God can come up with to bless all of us, unworthy sinners. I truly say to you my brothers and sisters, that God loves us so much that He blesses us and rewards us all in the same statement. Jesus has given us the examples, the roadmap to our rewards, he encourages us daily with tiny miracles if only we time to notice, and in all this, he asks for only one thing in return; to acknowledge our sin and to repent.
Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.
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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’
Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017