"Today’s reading in Matthew chapter 5 verse 1 to chapter 6 verse 4 comes from a section of Matthew’s gospel known as the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus sets forth the priorities, standards and values of his Kingdom. Jesus’ teaching calls his followers to live a lifestyle of discipleship. A lifestyle in which his followers receive blessing as they learn to center their lives on expressing love to God and others." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."What does this mean - "Poor in spirit"? Our spirit is low? Down in the dumps? Depressed? Not exactly.
The first thing I like to do when I am not sure I fully understand the meaning of a verse is to look it up in other translations. In the modern translation known as The Message it is written as "at the end of your rope". The Amplified Bible includes "the humble, who rate themselves insignificant" in parentheses after poor in spirit. Here are some other translations for poor in spirit:
"who realize their spiritual poverty" (New Century Version)At the start of his first great message Jesus lays out what has become known as the Beatitudes. To me these 8 sayings speak both about the present and the future. But there is more than that here. I think they also reverse our natural priorities and present a contrast of this world with the Kingdom of God. But there is more. I believe they give the secret to real and complete happiness. Not happiness that comes and goes based on our circumstances. Not the short lived happiness that you can buy. But a deep and profound happiness. Some refer to it as joy.
"who are spiritually needy" (New International Reader's Version)
"who know there is nothing good in themselves" (New Life Version)
"who know that they need him [God]" (Worldwide English)
"who recognize they are spiritually helpless" (God's Word Translation)
"who are poor and realize their need for him" (New Living Translation)
In the first saying Jesus starts right at the heart of this matter of happiness. Our heart and soul. Our spirit. Our center. The thing that makes us who we are. Jesus encourages us to honestly assess who we are before the throne of God. Do we realize that we have failings and weaknesses? Do we have a sense of our powerlessness and helplessness? Do we acknowledge our low condition apart from Christ? Do we acknowledge we fall short of the Glory of God? Are we humble before God?
Do we need Him?
There can only be two basic loves, the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.” (Augustine)
Mark Hall, lead singer of the group Casting Crowns wrote the song Who am I and in the chorus are these words.
“I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind."
Humility before God leads to the correct knowledge of who we are. It is a starting point for true happiness in our soul in our life here and now, but also for eternity. It is from this starting point that we can be all that God desires us to be.
I am working through the E100 Bible Reading Challenge again. You can learn more about my journey and read the other posts completed so far at this link. I encourage you to stop back soon to read another passage.
Please share your own thoughts on this passage in the comment section below or on the Facebook page.