Read Matthew 5:3
After having been led by the Holy Spirit into wilderness living, Jesus was fresh off a 40-day trial in which He was tempted by Satan to show off His power and prove His worth. He’d begun to preach and had called out men to follow and learn from Him. Just as Jesus began His public ministry, He sat in front of a huge crowd and talked about poor spirits and a new kingdom. In the economy of human desires, it makes no sense. All eyes on Him, He could have talked about power, strength or His own worth as the God of the universe. Instead, Jesus sat down and flip-flopped mankind’s ideas about the real kingdom of God.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
If we let ourselves see it, we’ll find this truth woven throughout Scripture: “Arrogant people cannot stand in your presence” (Ps. 5:5). “If a person does not repent, God will wield his sword” (Ps. 7:12). “…(I)f my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Even David had known it a thousand years earlier as He invited God to “Search (him)…and know (his) heart” (Ps. 139:23). Later Peter and James would write, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (1 Pt. 5:5; James 4:6). And Jesus would tell Nicodemus that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).
The citizens of God’s kingdom will be poor in their spirits. Each one will realize their utter need for Him.
Here’s the truth: being poor in spirit begins and ends with a heart that is willing to be known with all its flaws and shameful misgivings. The kingdom of heaven is for people whose spirits are splayed open before God, convinced that there is literally no way to earn His favor or a place in His kingdom. Blessed are the ones who are convinced that the absolute only way to real and eternal life has nothing to do with themselves and everything to do with what God has given them in Jesus Christ.
It’s a tough one, this idea of spiritual poverty. We look around and find strong spirits in high places all over this earth. You have to fight your way into the limelight. You need charisma and strength to be noticed. Even Christian leaders and spiritual heroes seem to hold riches in their spirit that have earned them a place at the head table.
But the kingdom of heaven runs on an entirely different economy. It’s full of poor spirits who know they have nothing and let the King of heaven give them what they need. For life. For all of eternity.
As you look over your life, where do you need to rely more on God? Where are you being prideful? What amends do you need to make and to whom?
Check out the first 12 verses on Matthew 5 for more “flip-flopping” on man’s ideas through the rest of the Beatitudes!