Matthew 5:3--The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Well-intentioned people have taken the first beatitude Jesus preached in Mat.5:3 and determined that God’s will was that they be poor. Monks in monasteries have sworn vows of poverty forsaking all but minimal essentials by which to live. The belief is that possessions interfere with becoming Christ-like. Ironically, one can achieve poverty just as one can achieve wealth. But was Jesus really calling people to be materially deprived?
Nowhere in the Bible does God teach that people should be destitute (without possessions). Moses taught the Israelites, “There will be no poor among you, however, because the Lord is certain to bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance” (Deuteronomy 15:4). The Bible says God “. . . brings poverty and gives wealth; He humbles and He exalts” (1 Samuel 2:7). Indeed “. . . know that the Lord upholds the just cause of the poor, justice for the needy” (Psalm 140:12). But poverty in the Bible was primarily the result of not obeying God’s laws and suffering the consequences. In the New Testament, neither wealth nor poverty was the goal but rather contentment with what one had. So what does Jesus mean by poor in spirit?
King David wrote,“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles . . . I am afflicted and needy; the Lord thinks of me. You are my helper and my deliverer; my God, do not delay” (Psa.34:6, 40:17). Isaiah said to God, “Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). Poor in spirit indicates a person’s abject humility before an Almighty God. It is a healthy sense of inadequacy and need for the Lord. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states,
It means a complete absence of pride, a complete absence of self-assurance and of self-reliance. It means a consciousness that we are nothing in the presence of God. It is nothing, then, that we can produce; it is nothing that we can do in ourselves. It is just this tremendous awareness of our utter nothingness as we come face to face with God.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. What a fantastic call for povility—the blessed state of humbly recognizing my inadequacy before my Lord; His awesomeness my neediness. Something to think about . . . in reveration.
The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty not possession; not decisions for Christ but a sense of absolute futility—“I can’t begin to do it.” That is the entrance; and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor. It is at the point of destitution that the bounty of God can be given.—Oswald Chambers inHe Shall Glorify Me
©1999 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)