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Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit


It goes without saying that we are in a crazy, unprecedented time (but not completely unknown, see the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic).  Worry and fear and confusion are everywhere.  We look to scientists, governments, and media for answers and quick solutions, but none have surfaced.  The unscientific and unpopular answer seems to be: “well, I guess we’ve just got to hold on” – which is easier said than done.

Poverty of Spirit

So, what perfect timing to meditate on the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Now more than ever it’s vital we understand this Beatitude and since it’s the first one, we can’t skip it.

And it’s appropriate that it is first. Spurgeon once said: “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 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 his line!”

When first asked to write a post on “poor in spirit,” I thought I’d be perfectly equipped since my wife once bought a book for herself titled “Living with Eeyore.”  Picking me for this Beatitude sounded logical, right?  But, once again, Scripture shows how what we think are strengths are really weaknesses.

Thinking Rightly About Ourselves Before God

As everyone’s financial health is in the balance, it’s important we recognize that “poor in spirit” is not a comment on economics but a comment on the soul.

This Beatitude is not about being poor or thinking poorly of ourselves – it’s about thinking rightly about ourselves before God.  It’s about realizing we are really empty-handed.  And it’s a call to be happy because something better lies ahead of us.

Today we are being called to realize that all we have in this life whether health or wealth or family should be put at God’s disposal.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a clearer and more tangible need to do this than we do today. 

Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

In Luke 14:33 Jesus said we can’t be His disciple if we don’t give up all of our possessions.  But that’s really a call to live in a way that shows we believe that nothing we have is worth more than the kingdom of God – today that rubber must hit the road.

If I asked you if I should pray to God for riches, everyone at The Trails would say “no way!”  I bet if I asked if I should doubt God’s love regardless of what I’m going through, I’d get the same answer.  Hard truth: now we all have to believe and live that truth.  Good news:  God’s love and promise of provision is the same on sunny and rainy days.

Call to Action

I think God is using this unique time of doubt to make a clear call on our lives that we have to answer.  He is calling us to replace self-reliance with reliance on Him, self-confidence with submission, and self-determination with sovereign grace.

Thomas Watson wrote: “If the hand is full of pebbles, we cannot receive the gold.”  The only way we can truly be poor in spirit is to let go of those pebbles – which today go by the name of COVID-19, work, and financial future.

So, in these crazy times, pray for God to show us how we can be poor in spirit and pray that we remember God doesn’t deal with us as we deserve.  When someone asks us how we’re doing, let’s answer “Better than I deserve.”

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!