Today we’re looking at the first of the “beatitudes” that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
We talked last week about what the word “blessed” means in these verses . . . and it’s a lot more than you would think.
In today’s passage we learn about one group of people who, according to Jesus, are not only REALLY blessed . . . but the kingdom of heaven is given to them.
It sounds like they won the lottery! But before you head out to buy one of those tickets, you may want to hear what they did to be so blessed.
They became poor in spirit.
That’s not how you’re typically told to get ahead in today’s culture, right? I know in today’s business world you’re told to stand out from the crowd, make connections with the right people, and make sure everyone knows what you do and how well you do it. You’re taught that if you don’t promote yourself first, no one else will.
But in this Upside-Down Kingdom that Jesus is training his disciples for, He takes a different angle.
The Amplified Bible says that “poor in spirit” means “the humble” and those “who rate themselves insignificant.”
I think “humble” in this context means not feeling superior to any other person, willingly putting other people ahead of yourself.
I don’t think whose “who rate themselves insignificant” have self-esteem issues or a self-image problem. I believe they view the King’s mission as more important than their individual life. In other words, they are willing to lay down their preferences in life to help fulfill the King’s mission. As a result, they don’t live small lives. They live LARGE. Because they have a compelling purpose that focuses on the King and the expansion of His Kingdom on earth–our life’s purpose that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
I think we can look at this principle of “poor in spirit” from two aspects.
1. I believe recognizing that you are poor in spirit is the first criteria for salvation. You have to realize that your soul is bankrupt. That you are in need of a savior.
2. And after we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, I believe it’s talking about purposefully not focusing on yourself, but instead recognizing that without God as the central focus of your life, you will still be poor in spirit–that HE is the one who gives your life value, meaning, and purpose.
Recognizing your desperate need for God and then focusing on Him and His mission sets you up for EXTREME BLESSINGS.
And that’s even BETTER than winning the lottery!
Matthew 5:1-3 / Amplified Bible
Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him.
2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
3 Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!