Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Beatitudes: The Poor in Spirit

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

"Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt
Who are the poor in spirit? The poor are lowly, afflicted, and in need. The poor in spirit are this way, but not externally in wealth or class, but in spirit. The poor in spirit are inwardly afflicted over their sins, they are humble before God and man, and they beg for God’s mercy, knowing their need. Those who follow Christ see themselves as poor in spirit, dependent upon God’s grace. They have an attitude of humility and gratitude.

Why are the poor in spirit blessed? Because this is how one receives the kingdom of heaven, with repentant humility and grateful trust. As Jesus said in Luke 18:17, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." The kingdom of heaven does not belong to the self-satisfied, the self-confident, or the proud. It belongs to the childlike, the penitent, the grateful. The kingdom of heaven belongs to beggars of mercy. Though they may look afflicted and lowly, yet they are blessed citizens of the heavenly realm.

So consider: are you poor in spirit? Do you realize your poverty? Do you prize Jesus like a poor man prizes his daily bread? Do you realize why He is so needful?

Set aside your self-sufficiency and be poor in spirit. Continue to subdue your pride and cultivate a penitent spirit. As Martin Luther said in the first of his ninety-five theses, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." On his deathbed, the final words of Luther also reflected this beatitude: “We are beggars. It is true.” May that be your attitude toward Jesus - come to His word as beggars, come to His Supper as beggars, come to prayer as beggars. He exalts the lowly and will not turn away the one who comes to Him broken and needy.

If you are poor in spirit, take heart - you are blessed! Yours is the kingdom of heaven! Blessed are you who have been struck with the holiness of God and have humbled yourself before Him! Blessed are you who realize your need and turn to Christ and the riches of His grace! You have entered the heavenly kingdom, the realm of God’s blessings.


For the first post in this series, see: "The Beatitudes: Introduction"

No comments: