“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
It is likely that we are all familiar with this, the first of the beatitudes, yet often Christ’s aphorisms still feel elusive in meaning (at least to me)!
Though I had heard sermons specifically on this beatitude, I remember that understanding it only began to click for me while listening to a gospel analogy song by The Gray Havens called “Train Station.” The lines went as follows:
“He [Jesus] shouted ‘You! Come follow me! I’ll buy your tickets and I’ll pay your fees; ‘Cause I know what you cost! Believe me, without this train you will be lost.’ So the rich men laughed and they walked away, but the poor ones felt that they should stay.”
Perhaps it is shockingly obvious, but only when I heard that line did it become clear that the one who is poor in spirit is the one who knows their lack. If I am “rich” in spirit I have no room for Christ. My house is full. But the one who is poor in spirit feels their own emptiness. They have a vacancy in their home needing to be filled.
While the one who is “rich” in spirit mocks the Gospel message, assuming they have the high ground to do so, the one who is poor in spirit will hear the word with sincerity and without pretense.
If I think of myself as rich in spirit, I miscalculate the worth of the pearl of great price and will not disdain to toss it to pigs since I put far more identity in what I already have or do or am. However, if I am poor in spirit I know that everything else I have tried to fill myself with has not been truly meaningful.
The one who is “rich” in spirit has their mind set on the things of the flesh. But the poor in spirit are desirous of the things of the spirit, and therein they find true life and peace. While the “rich” in spirit only have a pretense of life and peace, the poor in spirit get the real deal, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
So which one am I? Which one are you? Because even if we have “stooped” enough from our richness of spirit to receive a measure of the Gospel, we likely have not explored the depth and breadth and full measure of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can only run as far in our authority and inheritance of the kingdom of heaven as we have the poorness of spirit to receive it.
The only other beatitude that says “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” is in Matthew 5:10 where it says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” While the ones who are poor in spirit can and likely will receive the kingdom of heaven, the ones who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are the ones who are walking out their reception of the kingdom of heaven.
The next line of the song begins:
“so they [the poor ones] told all of their friends! They told even strangers ‘til there were ten thousands of people said “Come! Let us see this scandalous train that claims to be free, just let Him speak!”
The immediate response of the poor ones, in this song, was to go out and bring more people in, like the parable where the bridegroom begins to send out the servants to anyone and everyone in the streets because the original ones invited had excuses and declined or tarried (Matthew 22:1-14).
One who is so poor in spirit as to truly understand the immeasurable worth of Jesus Christ and His kingdom will be utterly unashamed of the Gospel, knowing its power unto salvation, and will not be quiet about it, even at the risk of persecution. They will be lovers of righteousness and the ways of the Spirit of God, they will desire to see anyone and everyone come into the kingdom, and they themselves will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
How zealous are you about the things of God? And are you willing to pray that you would become more so even though it will cost you all your pride and lead to persecution?
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” (Phil. 3:12)
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