Blessed are the poor in spirit.
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-3
The Sermon on the Mount is awesome. As the Christian reads it, they are struck all over, blows being landed left and right by these powerful, authoritative words of Jesus. It is my ambition to spend this year truly giving myself over to these words. I did not come to this conclusion on my own, though I wish I had. I have been working my way through the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer titled “Bonhoeffer” by Eric Metaxas. If you are unfamiliar with that name, I would strongly encourage you to learn what you can about this man of God. In keeping in step with Hebrews 12:1, Dietrich’s name is one in that cloud of witnesses which may embolden you as you run the race of faith. He, like many men and women of God, took those words of Jesus Christ seriously, and this has set me on a path to do the same.
In this desire then I stumbled upon a book titled “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount” by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. If anyone would wish to join me in this adventure of taking the words of Christ seriously and seeking to live in the reality of them, you can buy the volume online and pick up in chapter one. Read slow and keep your Bible close at hand while you do.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matt 5:3. Have you ever paused to think about how counter-cultural these words are? The sermon on the mount in its entirety is in complete contrast to the values of the world. We can read them and grasp them yet fail to truly let the reality of them strike at our hearts. Poor in spirit is not something many of us want to admit about ourselves. Jesus is not talking here about poverty in a material sense, but the more difficult to admit spiritual sense. To be poor in spirit means that we must acknowledge that we can bring nothing to the table. That we are weak. Let me say it again with the stronger language of Dr Lloyd-Jones, “There is no-one in the kingdom of God who is not poor in spirit.” (pg. 42.) No-one is rightly a Christian if they are not poor in spirit. There is a reckoning when we come face to face with God that we must be humble, not prideful before Him. That we would look to God with complete dependance, trust, obedience and seek to find mercy and grace, because we truly have nothing. We do not trust in our wealth, education, race, nationality, political party, family background, job, personality, morality, appearance, talents, all these we throw aside and lay ourselves bare before God.
Am I like this? The answer is no, not always, probably not nearly enough. I often am overly confident in my abilities and rely on these gifts and live and think in a way that would testify against me in this regard. If you can relate then you may be asking, “what can be done then, how can I become poor in spirit?” We must keep turning our face to Him. We must come back repeatedly to look at God and Christ. We must do this. It is not an option, everything else is built on this truth for the Christian, that we are poor in spirit, humbled, recognizing our need to be saved. When this becomes true of us, we begin to see the world and live in it in a completely different way than society demands. If we seek to change how we live before truly become poor in spirit, we have just added another thing, moral living, to the list of things we will boast in.
It is of vital importance for you and me to fight to keep our eyes on the Lord and really see Him for who He is, as He describes Himself in the Bible. Do not give yourself to anything less.
Scott Hoerner, Assoc. Min. of Youth & Young Adults