I’ve always assumed that when Jesus said ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven’ Matthew 5:3, that He was talking about an awareness of spiritual poverty that leads a person to salvation. I am thinking today that it is more than that, and that in fact Jesus meant it, like the other beatitudes, as a principle for life.
I personally don’t like feeling inadequate, I don’t think many of us do. It feels uncomfortable not to feel ‘on top of my game’ as it were. We like to feel that we have the resources to cope with the situations in which we find ourselves, physically, mentally, emotionally and of course spiritually. Feeling ‘poor’ in spirit therefore, doesn’t sit well with some of the other truths that we have been thanking God for, like the fact that there is grace abounding for all our needs.
If I feel a sense of deficit in any area I am less likely to feel content and happy let alone ‘Blessed’, and yet that is what Jesus said. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. So this morning ‘a penny’ dropped as three scriptures came together for me and I think I understood a little more about this amazing principle of spiritual life, about which Jesus was talking.
I was reading from Psalm 36:7-9, ‘How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them to drink of the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.’ This is not about status – both high and low – can come, it’s about hunger. The ‘children of men’ NASB, come and seek refuge in the Lord and find that this is a spiritually rich place to feast on abundance and drink from a river of delights.
It reminds me of the line in Mary’s song ‘The hungry He has filled with good things but has sent the rich away empty.’ Luke1:53. It also reminds me of the Lord’s invitation through Isaiah. ‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money or cost……… Listen to me and eat what is good. And your soul will delight in the richest of fare.’ Isaiah 55:1,2.
The sense of hunger is such an important one for survival naturally. It drives us to look for food and to then eat it. If someone has no appetite, it can be a sign that all is not well. Sometimes when people reach the end of their life, they will even stop wanting food. It is as if their body has decided it is time to go. The ‘normal’ is for our body to regularly crave an intake of food, the fuel to keep us functioning properly.
As in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. If we have no spiritual hunger we can assume that something is not right with our spiritual life. We need that spiritual food described in Psalm 36 at regular intervals and not just as an annual, or even a weekly binge. It means that I can feel very blessed, but then very hungry again within a day or a short period of time. I can experience the over flowing grace of God in one minute but then be aware of my spiritual poverty the next, when another challenge or situation comes where I am feeling my lack of peace, or wisdom, or resource.
So now I can thank God when I feel spiritually inadequate, when I feel ‘poor in spirit’. It’s that feeling that will drive me to ‘find refuge’ in Him, to ‘come to the fountain and drink and eat’. My feeling of poverty is not because I haven’t known the Lord’s blessing but because I need more. It’s because as I have travelled through the day fresh challenges have come, causing me to return to the fountain to drink deeply and ‘grow in my spirit’ some more. In fact because I become aware of my ‘spiritual poverty’ I will become hungry for more of Him, and then find myself truly ‘blessed’ and enjoying even more of the Kingdom of Heaven than before. “For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”
We do just need to note here that this word ‘blessed’ is not the stained glass window kind of ‘blessed’ that we see in the image of a saint sitting with a halo and some sheep at his feet. The ‘blessed’ that we read in beatitudes, needs some expanding. Brian Simmonds in The Passion Translation has some further thoughts from the Aramaic word ‘toowayhon’, that Jesus would probably have used. He tells us that it implies ‘great happiness, prosperity or enrichment, abundant goodness and delight’. So now I know that I can most certainly thank the Lord every time I feel that sense of being ‘poor in spirit’. It’s my hunger pangs for more of His Kingdom to be released in me, and I know that I am going to be truly ‘blessed’.