Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What is meant by “Poor in Spirit”?
Here are some thoughts on it –
Billy Graham says – “Simply this: We must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant.
In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Pride can take all kinds of forms, but the worst is spiritual pride. Often the richer we are in things, the poorer we are in our hearts. Have you faced your own need of Christ? Do you realize that you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness? Don’t let pride or anything else get in the way, but turn to Christ in humility and faith—and He will bless you and save you.”
An LDS Bible Study manual say “The idea of being poor in spirit is presented here as the opposite of being proud. Humility is the issue in this verse, and if that humility brings one to the gospel of the Lamb, then the one who is poor (humble) will certainly be blessed.”
As Elder Wells of the LDS Seventy has said in 1987 –
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:3.) We all agree that being poor economically is not usually a desired blessing, but here the Savior refers to humility and subjecting oneself to the Lord in all things…
In Catholic article we read – http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=57167
“How could we comprehend the poverty of spirit as stipulated in the beatitude? Interestingly, the Greek word pto-chos used for poor in the beatitude refers to a destitute who lives on begging in absolute and abject poverty. The Hebrew equivalent for the poor is ani and ebio – n, which would describe a poor man who is humble, helpless and having no worldly power or influence to protect him. Being poor, God alone is his hope and he completely relies on God for his daily living. Could this mean that to be a true Christian or a follower of Jesus one needs to dispossess himself and become a destitute for the sake of the Kingdom of God?”
From these we can gather that to be poor in spirit is to be humble before the Lord – not one who boast on what they have – spiritually being humble is recognizing that all that we are is because of the blessing of the Lord – nothing that we do or say, not in one tiny bit, can make us great in the sight of the Lord.
Our Jewish brother and sister we have – http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Brit_Chadashah/Beatitudes/beatitudes.html
I find interesting that they say that the Beatitudes are presented in a progressive order, that each one builds on the previous one.
“Thus, the poor in spirit become mourners over their sinful condition. Humbled, they deeply care for righteousness and find it in the sacrifice of Yeshua who showed them mercy. As they become merciful, they learn to see beyond appearances to behold inner beauty in everyone. Hatred and strife griefs their hearts, so they become peacemakers. Ultimately, however, their passion makes they misunderstood and mistrusted, and therefore they become subject to persecution”
This is really a beautiful way to think of them and in such a new way for me – Its always good to look at things from the scriptures in different ways, to try and understand what is being said, how its being said and how it is being received.
The scriptures are not one-dimensional meaning that they don’t have but one meaning or purpose but rather they are multidimensional with different meaning for different people at different times and circumstances. Praise the Name of the Lord!!
From our Muslim Brother and Sisters –
Μακάριοι (makarioi) – Adjective, nominative plural, masculine of Μακάριος (makarios) meaning:blessed; happy; fortunate; lucky; better off (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Friberg, Miller). The Matthean Scholar Ulrich Luz argues that the term in ancient (Koine) Greek can hardly be distinguished from εϋδαιμων meaninghappy. He argues that the term blessed as used by most other translations is a religious term often associated with the hereafter, while these beatitudes refer to people here and now (Ulrich Luz Hermeneia Commentary Series of Matthew).
This is the first verse which begins Matthew’s Beatitudes. Jesus is blessing or giving glad tidings to the poor, and to them he is promising the kingdom of heaven. This is supported by its parallel in Luke’s Gospel, who writes the poor rather than poor of spirit in Matthew. Such a teaching is also present in the Hadith (sayings) of the Prophet of Islam (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):
Narrated Sahl bin Sa’d As-Sa’id: A man passed by Allah’s Apostle and the Prophet asked a man sitting beside him, “What is your opinion about this (man)?” He replied, “This (man) is from the noble class of people. By Allah, if he should ask for a lady’s hand in marriage, he ought to be given her in marriage, and if he intercedes for somebody, his intercession will be accepted. Allah’s Apostle kept quiet, and then another man passed by and Allah’s Apostle asked the same man again, “What is your opinion about this one?” He said, “O Allah’s Apostle! This person is one of the poor Muslims. If he should ask for a lady’s hand in marriage, no one will accept him, and if he intercedes for somebody, no one will accept his intercession, and if he talks, no one will listen to his talk.” Then Allah’s Apostle said, “This (man) is better than such a large number of the first type (i.e. rich men) as to fill the earth” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 454).
What do these all have in common?
What we find in these commentaries is that the poor in spirit are those who are not arrogant in their faith or their position in life, they are not overly proud in what they have – they are the ones that depend on the Savior, their God for all that they have.
Being poor in spirit is also not judging others spirituality. We all need to remember that as we judge others so we will be judged. So let us judge not at all – so that the Lord will have mercy in us
It would be for our benefit and our goal to become one of the poor in spirit – that does not mean that we walk around with a frown on our face or looking for piety – we should recognize where all good gifts come from and find peace and joy from that knowledge, as it will bring us unto the kingdom. That is only in our Heavenly Father – Our God, Our Savior.