Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. (CSB)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (NLT)
Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]. (Amplified Bible)
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (The Message)
I didn’t include the NIV, NASB, or KJV because they read like the ESV almost word for word. I did include the NLT because it almost always tries to explain the meaning instead of simply translating. I admit, that is not always good but it does give a slightly different take. The Amplified Bible, which I’ve never really used, attempts to put all possible meanings in the text. I like the idea behind that but it makes for difficult reading at times. Eugene Peterson’s The Message is ALWAYS off kilter (for better or worse) but it’s a paraphrase and I don’t expect it to be as literal.
In my post yesterday I mentioned the progression that many people see here in The Beatitudes. I also stated that I tend to agree with that assessment. I want to briefly list the different “stages” of this progression before discussing the first one. For lack of a better phrase I’m calling this The Kingdom Path. I may or may not have read that somewhere else but I don’t recall at the moment.
Verse 3 – The Poor in Spirit
Verse 4 – Those Who Mourn
Verse 5 – The Humble
Verse 6 – Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
Verse 7 – The Merciful
Verse 8 – The Pure in Heart
Verse 9 – The Peacemakers
Verse 10 – Those Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake
The starting point is recognizing your position before a holy God. Isaiah’s encounter in the throne room (Isaiah 6) comes to mind. After a confrontation with angelic beings Isaiah is absolutely shaken. He recognizes his sinfulness and declares that he is “ruined” because of it. One of the seraphim touches his lips with a hot coal and pronounces him forgiven. He is then given his charge to go and proclaim the word of God. After finding himself before God Almighty, Isaiah is about as poor in spirit as one can be.
Another passage that comes to mind is the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector found in Luke 18:9-14. In this particular story Jesus describes the difference between the attitudes and prayers of the two men. The Pharisee is devoted to observing every aspect of the Law and even though he isn’t capable of doing so (no one is), he considers himself righteous and better off than others. When standing to pray to God he only boasts about himself. The tax collector, on the other hand, doesn’t even dare enter the temple completely. He stands off in the shadows beating his chest in anguish and begging for mercy. Jesus says that he (the tax collector) is the one who leaves the temple justified.
It’s about attitude. It’s about recognizing that without Christ we are sinners, lost and alone with no hope. The great thing is that Jesus loves us even when we are in that state. Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were still sinners. Christ died for us. All we have to do is recognize that one simple fact. We have to understand that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. It doesn’t matter how many righteous deeds we do. Until we admit that we are nothing without Christ, he cannot change our hearts and minds.
The good news (Gospel) is that he is faithful even when we aren’t. When we take this first step we begin the path that leads to eternal life in the very presence of God Almighty. The “kingdom” Jesus is talking about isn’t an earthly one although we can become a part of it and benefit from it while we are still here. It is ultimately fulfilled when Christ returns but those of us who are part of the Church live the kingdom life every single day. It’s what we were created to do.
Where are you this morning? Have you recognized the truth that you are spiritually bankrupt before God? Do you believe that He will fix that and give you riches unimaginable? Perhaps you have known this for a long time but have gotten off track. You’ve taken your eyes of Christ and that old way of thinking is sneaking back up on. I know I’ve been in both places. One of the reasons I decided to do this study is to give myself a spiritual audit. I need to open up the ledger books and see if I’ve fallen back into that prideful, selfish mindset. I pray that you do as well.
May God our Father give you grace and peace.