"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NASB)
When I had first started to make a real effort at memorizing scriptures I determined that I would memorize Matthew 5 in the KJV, so day in and day out I would work on it, eventually I gave up, but I do have about the first 30 verses memorized (I have not given up on scripture memory, just that passage which I hope to come back to). Now what I found was that through all my memorization I still did not understand the passage, in fact I had this great idea that someday I would be able to stand in front of a group at our church and proudly speak the entire ‘Sermon on the Mount’ to them. I totally did not get it, in fact the very purpose of my memorization was to gain spiritual wealth and authority, but the very first words of Christ in this teaching are a rebuke to my premise for memorization. So long as I attempted to achieve this spiritual wealth I was never given understanding of the beatitudes at all. In fact I was very backwards with it all, using stupid quips like ‘meek does not mean weak’ or focusing on the persecution verses as if I was being persecuted for Christ. (I was merely disliked by some for my self-righteousness) it was no legitimate persecution. Anyway, the beatitudes came to life for me when I was down at Sidecut Metropark in Maumee Ohio just broken over sin, lack of fire, doubt, despondency, and weakness. I remember walking along the towpath there just feeling... poor. In those moments my mind went back to the beatitudes (which thankfully were committed to memory) and every single one of them came to life, and not just a little insight here and there, but the beatitudes lit up my soul and in a moment I was in sweet communion with God, and enjoying contentment.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the moment which we realize we are in spiritual poverty is the moment we should cling to very fact that our poverty in spirit validates our blessedness in Christ. Why did God send John the Baptist preaching repentance? And why did Christ preach repentance to the crowds gathered? Because nothing produces brokenness and poverty in spirit more than the message of repentance! The message of repentance paves the way and makes straight the path in the wilderness. The message of repentance brings people to the place of broken blessedness.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Jesus is looking His chosen few in the eyes (recall the crowd was not there for the ‘Teaching on the Mount’) and giving them blessed assurance. They had to have wondered why they were chosen and the scribes and Pharisees, or the wealthy were not. Following Christ meant hearing the ridicule of those who opposed Him, and yet Christ brings a great word of comfort to these disciples and utters “Blessed are the poor in spirit...” clearly those gathered with Him were indeed the poor in spirit, and then “...for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
One really important point that must be made about this and all the beatitudes is that you cannot do ‘poor in spirit’. It is not a command that can be kept, and it is not an attribute you can create in yourself. You are poor in spirit, or you are not, it takes divine action, and divine enlightenment to your own shortcomings to make you poor in spirit, and nothing you can do will muster up spiritual poverty.
I want to write so much more on this, but will save that for a summary post on all the beatitudes. For now I ought to move on to ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.’