Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

At first blush, the beatitudes sound absurd.  It’s strange to hear that the poor in spirit, the meek, the mourning, and the persecuted are blessed. From a worldly perspective, the beatitudes turn our world upside down; but from God’s perspective, they turn our world right-side up.

We need to start with the word “blessed.”  Being blessed is more substantial than being happy.  We’re happy when things are going our way; we’re blessed when we have peace when they aren’t.  The beatitudes speak of a joy that’s deeper than our sorrows, losses, or grief.  We can have that joy even when tears are streaming down our faces.

Why do we need to be “poor in spirit” to know that blessedness? When we’re poor in spirit, we’re forced to rely totally upon God because we have nothing else and nobody else to rely upon.

If we’re blessed when we’re poor in spirit, does that mean that we need to make ourselves miserable to be blessed?  Hardly.  We only need to tell the truth about our lives.

Ever lost your way?  Ever wondered if you’ve wasted your talents or your life?  Ever been betrayed, lied about, cheated upon, or abused?  Ever had a sin that shames you or an addiction that defeats you?  Ever had your heart so broken that you never wanted to love again?

If you’ve experienced any of the above, you know what it means to be “poor in spirit.” We sometimes don’t tell the truth about this poverty because we don’t want to sound like a loser or because we’re worried that people won’t respect us if we shared our true condition.

Today’s scripture encourages us to admit being “poor in spirit.”  When we acknowledge our poverty, we might just discover that God is always with us and that God’s Kingdom is always available to us. Maybe the only way to know that God is mighty to save is when we’re so “poor in spirit” we finally admit that we can’t do it ourselves.

Reflection Questions:

  1. When or how have you been “poor in spirit?”
  1. When you have been “poor in spirit,” did you experience being blessed? If so, how? If not, what did you feel?
  1. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God will be ours when we are “poor in spirit.” Have you ever known, seen, or felt God’s Kingdom—that is, God’s power, peace, presence—come to you?  If so, when?

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