Beatitude One—Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Daily Devotion Thursday August 10, 2017

 

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3

At the start of his sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, “Jesus states several blessings, each beginning with the phrase, “Blessed are …” (Similar declarations appear in Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:20-23.) Each saying speaks of a blessing or “divine favor” bestowed upon a person resulting from the possession of a certain character quality” (Mary Fairchild). These eight blessings are commonly referred to “the beatitudes.”

The word beatitude derives from the Latin beatitudo, meaning “blessedness.” Of the beatitudes, Fairchild writes; “The phrase “blessed are” in each of the beatitudes implies a current state of happiness or well-being. The expression held powerful meaning of “divine joy and perfect happiness” to the people of the day. In other words, Jesus was saying “divinely happy and fortunate are” those who possess these inward qualities. While speaking of a current “blessedness,” each pronouncement also promises a future reward.”

The first of these eight sayings of blessedness is: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Many people have treated this saying unfairly with some only giving a half quote; “blessed are the poor,” omitting the latter part of the saying “in spirit.”

If we don’t give a fair attention to this first beatitude, we not only treat God’s word unfairly but miss Jesus’ point.

So, what does Jesus mean in saying: blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?

Although there is an evidence that those who live in poor socio-economic conditions are likely to be religious—that religious commitment may be more among less affluent people, Jesus was not merely referring to a socio-economic poverty. The Amplified Bible paraphrases Jesus’ saying in this way: “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]” (Matt. 5:3 AMP). On her part, Fairchild gives this paraphrase;

“Blessed are those who humbly recognize their need for God, for they will enter into his kingdom.”

Blessed are those who recognize their need for God, “the blessed ones are the poor “in spirit“, who by their free will are ready to bear for God’s sake this painful and humble condition, even though at present they be actually rich and happy; while on the other hand, the really poor man may fall short of this poverty “in spirit” (Catholic Encyclopedia). It is possible to be rich and wealthy, and or economically poor and be yet poor in spirit—not recognizing ones’ need for God. It is also possible for both the rich and the poor to equally recognize their need for God.

The promise; “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” is neither for the economically poor nor does it exclude the economically rich, it is for ALL who desire God—who recognize their need for God. For all who admit their human inadequacy and look for meaning in Christ, those who believe and accept Christ are blessed and the kingdom of God belongs to such. For to acknowledge and revere Christ is to let the kingdom of heaven reign in our hearts because Christ is the King of the heavenly kingdom. Amen! Rev. J

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture Quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV) 2011.

Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is the founding Director of this online New Dawn Ministries. He holds a Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues from the Norwegian School of Theology. Julius also is a pastor in the Anglican Diocese of Ma’di and West Nile of the Church of Uganda who believes that God’s timeless truth of salvation must be preached to all Nations. Help Donate here to support the New Dawn Ministries. You can also support this ministry by purchasing Julius’ popular books Triumphing Over Odds and Suffering and Pain? from Amazon. Thank you.

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