“BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” (Matthew 5:3).
… FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
As Christ put it very simply this is the attitude we require to possess the kingdom. There are reasons for this –
First, the spiritually poor will be able to see what God has called them to inherit. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he wrote, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know
- the hope to which He has called you
- the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and
- His incomparably great power for us who believe.”
It is necessary that our eyes are opened to 1. our inheritance – all that we can be and will be and have in Christ both for now and eternity (the hope and the riches, and 2. the power/strength available to us in order to overcome the enemy, before we can move in and occupy the promises. This is why Moses sent spies to explore Canaan. It is also the reason Christ counselled the Laodicean church to buy from Him salve to put on their eyes so that they would see.
Second, poverty of the spirit produces boldness and perseverance before God. Blind Bartimaeus, the Canaanite woman with the demon possessed daughter and the persistent widow are examples. They not only received what they asked for but they were commended for their faith. So the poor in spirit
- Are not discouraged by people’s negative words as they approach God (Mark 10:46-52)
- Are not put off by God’s apparent silence or rebuffs. Instead kneeling at His feet, they humbly demand that He live up to what He Has promised or revealed to them of Himself. (Matthew 15:21-28)
- Are prepared to wear Him out till He shows up.(Luke 18:1-8) As God has commanded them, they neither rest nor give Him rest till He vindicates His name and His word. Like Abraham they against all hope, continue to hope.
Third, they fully understand – and never underestimate – the importance of their calling. Esau despised his birthright and was called godless. Few things seem to anger God as much as people who despise their calling and set a low value on what He has called them to do and to inherit. (Matthew 25:14-28 and Numbers 16:8-11). The poor in spirit recognise the true worth of what God has for them and gladly go in to possess as Caleb and Joshua did. ”’The land we… explored is exceedingly good…if the Lord is pleased with us He will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord.”(Numbers 14:7-9)
Sadly we often find that Christians become comfortable in their religious lives and church activities and wont press in for all that God has for them. They would rather have their material needs met and their quiet lives undisturbed than be forceful and violent in taking the kingdom.
Fourth, they become more than conquerors through Christ. Not only do the poor in spirit see the ‘riches of their inheritance’, they also view themselves and their enemies from God’s perspective. Their confidence is not in themselves but in God’s faithfulness and His ability to vindicate His word. They are not afraid of the ‘giants in the land’. Caleb was an example, as his words amply demonstrate – ”we should go up and take possession of the land, for we can do it.” (Numbers 13:30) and ”…do not be afraid of the people… their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.” (Numbers 14:9). They are the violent ones who take the kingdom by force.
Poverty of the spirit is also the beginning of Christian maturity and makes a Christian mature from childhood to manhood. It takes one from helplessness, dependence and childishness to knowing God’s word and fighting the enemy. The essence of adulthood is: ‘you are strong, the word of God lives in you and you have overcome the evil one.’ (John 2:14).
Adverse circumstances produce and strengthen this aspect of their character. As poverty of the spirit is so important in the formation of Christian character God often allows suffering in our lives to bring us to the end of ourselves and to a place of dependence on Him. Paul in his letter to the Romans writes that ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And that hope does not disappoint us…’ (Romans 5:3-5). And these trials ‘make us mature and complete not lacking anything.’ (James 1:4).
Fifth, knowledge of their need for God leads them to knowing God. This attitude is especially found in Christians who are fathers in the church as Paul (1Corinthians 4:15) and Peter were. In his letter John addresses those who are spiritual fathers.-”I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13). They have matured because knowledge of their need for God has led them to knowing God. They are a real threat to the enemy’s camp because the Bible says – ”Those who know their God will firmly resist him (the anti-Christ)” (Daniel 11:32). They are rich in the things of God and they have enough to give others and they uphold the church with their wisdom.
The traits which characterise such Christians are:
1) An unshakeable trust and dependence on God which spring from a deep and intimate knowledge of Him.
2) They provide stability in the church. They use their experience and authority to build other Christians. (2 Corinthians 13:10)
3) They warn the church concerning the devices of the enemy and his emissaries (wolves in sheep’s clothing). (Philippians 3:2, 2 Peter 2 and Acts 20:29)
4) They encourage, comfort and urge believers to live lives worthy of God, who calls them into His Kingdom. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
5) They are willing to sacrifice themselves so that other Christians may grow and come to their own in faith. Paul’s words demonstrate this:
- ”So I will gladly expend for you everything I have and myself as well.”
- ”I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you…in all our troubles, my joy knows no bounds”. (1 Corinthians 12:15 and 7:4)
They have the future of the church on their hearts and their greatest desire is to invest something of lasting value in the lives of believers so that they in turn would be strong and work to extend Christ’s Kingdom. (2 Peter 1:12-15 and Acts 20:20-35)
To summarise poverty of the spirit is the stepping stone to Christian maturity and productivity and progress. This attitude equips one to take possession of the kingdom and to nurture other Christians to do the same.