“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew 5:3
Jesus launched into the Sermon on the Mount with these powerful and humbling words. In the opening verse of this chapter we are told that He is speaking to His disciples. Straight away when we hear the words “disciples” we think of the Twelve but it seems likely that the disciples being mentioned here also encompass at least some of the multitude that had followed Him from Matt 4:25. Furthermore in Matthew 7:28 we are told that when Jesus had finished the teaching “the people were astonished at his doctrine”.
Before Jesus commences teaching we read that “he opened his mouth, and taught them”. It is easy to just gloss over these words but as Spurgeon points out, “It is not superfluous to say that “he opened his mouth, and taught them”, for he had taught them often with his mouth closed”. Every moment of Jesus’ life, whether in thought, word, deed or in silence, was lived out in perfect obedience to His Father’s will. Perhaps this is something for us to think about with regard to our own life, does the way we carry ourselves day to day bring glory to God?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. This first Beatitude (the Blessings) is one of eight declarations of blessedness spoken by Jesus which show us the way we should be as citizens of God’s kingdom. They don’t tell us what we should do, they tell us how we should be. “poor in spirit”, the Greek word used here is Ptochos, it conveys the idea of being beggarly, poverty-stricken and destitute in terms of our own righteousness. In Isaiah 64:6 we are told that “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags”, the very best that we can bring to God are rags. The only way we can enter God’s kingdom is by His grace through the shed blood of His Son – “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the Cross I cling”. This is how we enter the kingdom of heaven but it is also how we are to be now, humble and acutely aware of our inability to serve God in our own strength. Oswald Chambers once prayed, “LORD, drench us in humility”! If we think we can live a life that is pleasing to God without an utter dependence on the Holy Spirit then we only delude ourselves. It is a great shame when we fail to allow the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit to fully take hold of us. An overestimation of our own strength and ability is often at the root of this problem. In James 4:6 we are told that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”.
Brothers and sisters let us let go of any trace of pride that may be lingering in our hearts. Scripture makes it clear that none of us have nothing to boast of save Christ; He who glories, let him glory in the LORD” (1 Cor 1:31). God is looking for humble souls who recognise their own hoplessness so that He can (without resistance) fill them with His Holy Spirit. Then and only then are we equipped to serve Him; My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9). The very virtues that Jesus exalts in the Sermon in the Mount – humility, meekness, mercy and righteousness are the very same virtues that the world of today seems to take delight in scoffing. Humility is seen as timidity, meekness as weakness, Godly righteousness as being self-righteous. But God’s ways are not the ways of the world (Isaiah 55:8). The next time you are feeling weak and overburdened by what life is throwing at you remember that it is at this time especially that God wants you to let go and let Him take the strain – our God can take the strain, He is mighty! (Psalm 147:5). Let us not lament the fact that we are weak but rather let us embrace it so that God’s power can made be made manifest in our life to His glory. “Blessed are the poor in spirit”…..“This beatitude is first because this is where we start with God. A ladder, if it is to be of any use, must have its first step near the ground, or feeble climbers will never be able to mount it. It would have been a grievous discouragement to struggling faith if the first blessing had been given to the pure in heart; to that excellence the young beginner makes no claim, while to poverty of spirit he can reach without going beyond this line”. (Spurgeon).
With every blessing,