Most Christians have the belief that the Sermon on the Mount is just the first 11 verses of Matthew 5, but they are so very wrong. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount encompasses three chapters (5-7) of Matthew.
Those first 11 verses in Matthew 5, known by many as the Beatitudes, are also greatly misunderstood. Many Christians don’t understand them and then they feel that each verse refers to different people. In fact, those 11 verses all describe the attributes of a true Christian and then Jesus spent the rest of the Sermon explaining them.
Verse 3 of Matthew 5 is the start of Jesus’ teaching. It simply states:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
However, few Christians grasp the importance of this beginning verse. Everything else Jesus taught on the mountain is based upon this simple but not so simple verse and failing to grasp the meaning could mean missing the depths of the entire teaching of Jesus.
To begin with, what does it mean ‘blessed”?
Some ministers teach that ‘blessed’ means happy but that is far from what it means. Happiness is fleeting but the blessing Jesus is referring to is an eternal blessing. A more accurate interpretation of ‘blessed’ is being the privileged recipient of divine favor, which is not something that everyone has. Anyone going to Disneyland can be happy, but few truly receive the divine favor of a true Christian who is ‘poor in spirit’.
So, what does ‘poor in spirit’ mean?
Think about the passage of Luke 16:19-22 which gives us a short account of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus was poor and was happy to just eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table. Lazarus was truly poor in that he had nothing of his own.
To be ‘poor in spirit’’ means that we realize that we are spiritually poor meaning that we have NO spiritual resources of our own on which to rest any hope of salvation. Nothing we have done or could do is worthy of any blessing or divine favor from God. Being ‘poor in spirit’ means that we realize we are totally unable to do anything to save ourselves and that our only hope of redemption and salvation rest upon our complete faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ makes true Christians to mourn for our wretched condition (Matt. 5:4).
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ causes us to become meek in our own depraved condition (Matt. 5:5).
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ causes us to hunger and thirst for righteousness because we are aware that there is nothing we can do to earn eternal salvation (Matt. 5:6).
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ causes us to be more merciful towards others (Matt. 5:7).
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ causes us to keep our attention and focus on Christ and so doing helps us to have a purer heart (Matt. 5:8).
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ causes us to become peacemakers instead of troublemakers. We strive to put the cause of Christ ahead of our own needs and desires (Matt. 5:9).
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ helps us to have the strength to be persecuted for righteousness or Christ’s sake (Matt. 5:10).
Realizing that we are ‘poor in spirit’ allows us to lead a life for Christ that often results in being reviled and subject to all kinds of evil because of our unwavering faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:11).
Understanding what ‘poor in spirit’ truly means is to understand all of the teachings of Jesus and what it means to be a true Christian. It means that spiritually, we are beyond bankruptcy on our own and that the only hope we have comes from our faith in Jesus Christ.
Are you ‘poor in spirit’? I strongly urge you to listen to a more detailed message on being ‘poor in spirit’ The Riches of Bankruptcy, here.
Take a minute to pray that God will open your mind and heart to the meaning of His word and then act upon His words.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.