Only by looking at it with biblical eyes will anyone appreciate how being poor in any way, shape or form becomes a blessing.
In the world’s view it is the rich who are blessed because they have plenty. But Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 5:3 (NIV), “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” points to something so much more important than material possessions—our spiritual standing before God.
Growing up in church, you may have heard the Beatitudes and the passage, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” so many times. But has its meaning ever really hit home for you? You may have nodded in agreement each and every time without really grasping what poor meant and why they are blessed.
You may be going through a lot of financial difficulties today with bills piling up and all that. But your material circumstance does not mean you are poor in the spirit.
To be poor in the spirit means to sincerely, wholeheartedly realize your hopeless state apart from God. This is when you get down on your knees and acknowledge you are a sinner with absolutely no redeeming value. Someone who is poor in the spirit forgets his social status, educational background, and position of power as he stands a sinner begging for God’s mercy and grace.
John MacArthur, in his website Grace to You (https://www.gty.org), gives a very suitable description of the word “poor” as used in the passage. According to him it comes from the Greek word ptochos which means, “to shrink, cower, or cringe,” as beggars often do.
“It refers to a person reduced to total destitution, crouched in a corner begging. As he held out one hand for alms he often hid his face with the other hand, because he was ashamed of being recognized. The term did not mean simply poor, but begging poor.”
The Joy That Comes From Being Poor
This is how every person must see himself before God. And only then can we claim His promise of happiness. Once we realize our spiritual poverty and utter sinfulness and seek His mercy and forgiveness, He will give us salvation and an eternal life in heaven. Can there be anything better than being forgiven of our sins and assured of the eternal glory of the Kingdom of God? This is true happiness.
There is no perfect life; we will always go through trials on earth. But knowing that we are God’s children will give us the strength to go through life’s troubles with joy and peace in our hearts. Real joy is not dependent on what life throws at you; it is dependent on God’s unwavering love and faithfulness.
The entire Beatitudes takes us through a blueprint of how to enter the place of eternal joy: the Kingdom of God. Yet, as we remain walking on this earth, God promises us something in John 10:10 (NIV), “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
So, while we wait to inherit God’s Kingdom, we hold steadfast to this promise of an abundant life. Not necessarily abundance in material possessions, but abundance of God’s peace, joy, and love.
Always remember that as Christians “the joy of the Lord is our strength”—God desires that we find joy knowing Him, serving Him, and walking with Him daily.
Christianity is a daily life. Being poor in the spirit is something we live out continuously. We face God each day in humility, empty-handedly seeking His guidance and constantly pursuing to be more like Him.
We ought to check ourselves daily if we are still poor in the spirit, or have we already forgotten the sinful state from which God redeemed us?
Seek to constantly be in the presence of God, learning from His word and obeying His commands. Pray for God’s strength to live each day according to His will.
Upon seeing your need for God and acknowledging that you deserve nothing but punishment, yet, He saved you, you will never run out of things to praise and thank God for.
Now that you are humble enough to recognize your hopeless state without God, you need to turn and appreciate the good in the people around you.
You deserve nothing, yet God loved you still, forgave all your sins, and promised you eternal happiness in heaven. So what is there to complain about?
In the world’s eyes there would seem to be a paradox in the “poor” being “happy” or “blessed.” But God’s wisdom is not of this world and His ways are different. The poorer we become in the spirit, the stronger God’s power is manifested in our lives, and the sooner we receive His gift of everlasting life.