“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
“The poor will go to heaven, and everyone else has to not sin,” says Sarah Jane, age 6. Great news for the poor, but where does that leave the rest of us?
“When I was at a basketball game, I did not have any spirit,” says Kelly, 11. “But I made a basket, and so I had a lot of spirit!” Congratulations on making the basket, but I’m sure Jesus had something else in mind.
“It means God does not just love the rich, but the poor,” says Elle, 8. “The poor are just as special as the rich.” The common belief of Jesus’ day was that the wealthy were rich because God had blessed them. And the poor … well, they had it coming to them. Some believed that if you helped a poor person, you could be interfering with God’s punishment.
If we had a videotape of the disciples’ faces as they heard Jesus’ statement, we’d probably see wide eyes and puzzled looks. This was not a nice little teaching for Sunday school. It was revolution. Everyone could enjoy the blessings of God’s kingdom even if they didn’t own a summer villa on the coast.
“I think it means the ones who need God the most, he will be there for them,” says Anna, 9. “The people who have a poor spirit are helped by God,” adds Ellen.
Spiritual poverty is the opposite of self-sufficiency. The word used for “poor” in Jesus’ teaching means the kind of poverty that causes a person to beg. Most people who live in industrialized countries have never seen a truly poor person begging. Yet it’s the desperate — the spiritual beggars — who enjoy the blessings of God’s kingdom.
Advertisers constantly bombard us with messages of independence. Those with the sleekest cars, latest fashions and biggest bank accounts are cool. Don’t expect an ad campaign hawking the benefits of spiritual poverty.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” said Jesus. The disciples were “astonished.” Then, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:24-26).
“It means blessed are the ones who are poor in spirit, for they can get saved and go to heaven,” says Marshall, 9.
The idea of sadness or mourning is the topic of Jesus’ next teaching or beatitude. Getting depressed and down is not always a bad thing. Coming to the end of your own resources is always painful. The key is in knowing where to look for comfort and strength.
“For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me,” wrote King David in Psalm 109:22.
Can you picture David submitting a manuscript of his Psalms to a modern book publisher? His rejection notice might read as follows: “David, I’ve got a good psychiatrist I can recommend. Please get some professional help. You need more self-esteem.”
Even though King David enjoyed success in many areas, he remained a spiritual beggar before God. Maybe that’s why God called him a man after his own heart.
Think about this: Everyone is poor before an all-sufficient God.
Memorize this truth: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
Ask this question: Do you see yourself as a poor person totally dependent upon God for every breath you take?
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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CAREY KINSOLVING