Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Beatitudes #1: Poor in spirit    (9/27/2015 )

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven, you really need to listen to this! It's the spiritually poor who are going to get God's kingdom. In fact, they've already got it.

Jesus doesn't ease his way in to these beatitudes. He goes straight for the jugular; straight to the point. What he's saying matters. It's a challenge to all of us, not least to the church (and I write as an ordained minister!), and it will change your entire future if you take it seriously.

Who do you think ‘owns' the kingdom of Heaven? God, of course—but does he share it with people? The world's view is that it's the rich and powerful who have things. Much contemporary spirituality echoes this mindset, and the church often looks little different. Jesus, however, says that this is not God's way.


Christianity rests 100% on the fact that you cannot earn your way into God's good books. The bible is irrefutably clear that all of us, every single one of us , has messed up and failed to meet God's standards of perfection. We are lost, dying, condemned and hopeless.

But Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again to clear a way back to God for us. We can't do it for ourselves; he did it for us, because of the unimaginable love God has for us. We call this undeserved gift ‘grace'.

And here's the funny thing about grace: it can only be received by those who know they are poor. That's why the prophet Isaiah said“The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Isaiah [OT], chapter 61, verse 1). He spoke those words hundreds of years before Jesus lived, but they are the words Jesus read in the synagogue (like a Jewish church) when he began his ministry.

If you try to offer grace to someone who thinks they are rich it gets mangled and becomes ineffective. It becomes reward or recompense, payment or right. It stops being grace, but it's only by grace that we can be saved (see Acts [NT], chapter 15, verse 11, and Ephesians [NT], chapter 2, verse 8). It is the poor in spirit who have the kingdom of God , because it's only the poor in spirit that he can give it to.

What about you? How do you approach God? Where you think you are strong, beware; where you think you are rich, be careful. In whose riches do you trust?

How do you approach the world? People of Christ should reflect their Lord and saviour. He came with nothing to call his own, but with everything to give.

Being poor in spirit is a vulnerable place to be, but it's the place where we discover that God really can be trusted. It's the place we discover life. The apostle Paul begged God to take away a particular weakness which afflicted him, but God replied “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians [NT], chapter 12, verse 9.)

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven...

Pray: Lord God, I want to understad what you mean by spiritual poverty. Please reveal to me how I can seek and understand this, in a world which prizes success and independence. Amen.

Think about: Do you find the idea of any kind of poverty offensive, or objectionable? If so, why? Is your reaction defined more by how you see yourself, or how other people might see you? Do you think God might have his own way of seeing things? Whose opinion matters most to you?

Challenge: 'Spiritual poverty' is connected to material wealth - because when we feel self-reliant, we lose our dependance on God. Yet Jesus lays it out clearly, right at the beginning of his ministry: only those who recognise their need to turn to him will experience the Kingdom of Heaven. How important to you is the idea of eternity with God? What might you be willing to sacrifice in order to have it?

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