“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
I had to do a little research on this one because even though I know the Beatitudes, I don’t “know” the Beatitudes. Oh, some of them are easy to interpret– “Blessed are those who mourn,” “Blessed are those who hunger,” I even understand the concepts “meek” and “merciful”–not that I necessarily always practice those traits–I at least understand them.
But “poor in spirit.” I guess I’d always assumed it meant depressed or sad, but in order to complete this entry, I realized I needed to truly find out what “poor in spirit” means. The others are blessed–comforted, receive mercy, and see God, but only the “poor in spirit” and those “who are persecuted because of righteousness” receive the kingdom of Heaven.
Bibletools.org states there are several meanings of the word “poor” when translated from Greek including “penes” (meaning working poor with little or no property), and “penechros” (a poor widow who may be receiving a small subsistence from a relative or social agency). In the Beatitudes, “poor” is “ptochos” which means “to crouch or cower as one helpless– someone totally dependent on others for help and destitute of even the necessities of life.”
So, “poor in spirit” implies that it is someone who is empty of any spiritual strength–someone who may not have a relationship with Christ.
Bibletools goes on to say:
To be poor in spirit is to acknowledge honestly and with understanding our spiritual poverty—indeed our spiritual bankruptcy—before God. We are sinners and on the strength of our lives deserve nothing but God’s judgment. We have nothing to offer, nothing to plead, nothing with which to buy His favor. But upon profession of our faith coupled with repentance, He allows by His grace the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for the sins of the world, to cover our sins, justifying us and providing us with access into His presence.
It is only when we realize that we have nothing without God that we truly gain everything. It is knowing, from the very core of our being, that everything we have, everything we hope to have, everything we need or think we need, comes only from the grace of God.
One of the things I found interesting from this research (and may be in need of future study) is that only those who are poor in spirit and persecuted are in present tense. “Theirs is the kingdom.” All the others who are blessed will be comforted, inherit, will be filled, will see God… Those will eventually receive their reward, while those who recognize that they are poor in spirit and are persecuted for their faith already receive God’s grace.