Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Harold Fowler wrote, "The beatitudes are paradoxes in that they declare as being truly well off the man who, from the ordinary point of view and perhaps in his own opinion, seems to be most unfortunate." The teaching of Jesus astonished the people. His message was not the exaltation of man but the realization of man's true state and relation to one another. The preaching of Jesus sought to return the Creator to His rightful place of authority and the creation to his need of the Creator.

Man rejected God when in the garden the serpent tempted man with pride. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus directs man back to the true character of the disciple of the Father. Humility will be the badge of distinction for children of God. The kingdom of heaven will possess those who have removed pride, arrogance and rebellion from their hearts.

The whole of the sermon is based upon the first few verses describing the character of the wise and godly person. A lowly mind will be needed to go the second mile and to learn to love one's enemies. Pride would cause a person to "sound a trumpet" before them as they do a charitable deed or stand on the "corners of the streets" to pray and disfigure the face so that everyone would know he is fasting. The poor in spirit would seek treasures in heaven and serve only God. Humility would cause the heart of the disciple of Christ to trust wholly in the providence of God and not worry about tomorrow.

The character of the poor spirit will disavow unjust judgment. Being destitute of pride and arrogance will take anger from the heart so that he will not be in danger of hell fire. The lowly heart will not cause the heart to look upon another man's wife or upon a woman to lust after her. Reverence for God's truth will find an abiding place in the sanctity of the marriage vow.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3) The kingdom of heaven is made up of those who possess the character of thinking of themselves as they truly are - in need of God! Pride deceives us into thinking we are sufficient for all our needs. We rebel against the truth of God's word and seek to follow our own paths. The result will only be calamity and despair for man cannot live apart from God.

The gate is wide and the way broad for those who cannot humble themselves before the mighty hand of God. It is a narrow gate and difficult way which leads to life as few will find the peace of removing the shackles of pride to be as servants of the most high God. The child of God finds the peace that passes all understanding by not thinking of "himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." (Romans 12:3)

The poor in spirit are those who seek the glory of God and not the praise of men. "But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends." (2 Corinthians 10:17,18) This spirit of poverty comes from above as shed abroad in our hearts by God. James writes, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (3:13-18) To be poor in spirit is to be rich toward God.

By Kent E. Heaton Sr.

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