Welcome to week two of my New Series on the Beatitudes.
The Sermon on the Mount teachings are a demonstration of what we should be living as Christ followers. Jesus set the tone early on in His ministry regarding what He was about and what it meant to be His disciple and have a Kingdom mindset. These teachings are the foundation for what Jesus modeled and would be doing for the next three years of His earthly ministry, and what He longs for us His followers to do as well.
The Beatitudes are the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached for the here and now and also for the Kingdom to come. I look forward to diving in deeper to each one of the 8 Beatitudes in the weeks to come.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3 NIV)
Whenever I read The Beatitudes, there are some I understand on surface level, but others, I am left asking …. What?
Truthfully, it is like that with other Scripture as well. Sometimes I have an understanding right away and then other times, I feel like the disciples when they continually asked Jesus to explain what He was saying. Such is the case with this first Beatitude, I find myself asking, “exactly what is Jesus talking about when He says, “poor in spirit”?
A researching I go….
Jesus had a way of rocking not just the religious boat, but what He taught and what He stood for was often counter cultural.
Our culture and theirs said: Blessed are the wealthy and famous
Jesus said: Blessed are the poor
If we look to the Old Testament, we can see the backdrop for Jesus’ use of the word “poor.”
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1)
Jesus is not speaking of the economically poor but those who are in spiritual poverty. They may have no relationship, or a poor relationship with Him, or are lacking spiritual character.
The word “poor” has a wide variety of meanings and applications in both The Old and New testaments.
The Old Testament uses five different words from the Hebrew language, while the New Testament uses two from Greek. However, these seven are translated into a large number of English words. Besides describing destitution, they appear in contexts indicating oppression, humility, being defenseless, afflicted, in want, needy, weak, thin, low, dependent and socially inferior.
Of the two Greek words translated “poor” in the New Testament, penes designates the working poor who own little or no property. People in this state possess little in the way of material goods, they earn what they have through their daily labor. A form of this word, penechros, describes the poor widow of Luke 21:2. Penes is used only once in the entire New Testament (II Corinthians 9:9).
However, this is not the word used in the beatitude in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Here, “poor” is translated from ptochos, which literally means “to crouch or cower as one helpless.” It signifies the beggar, the pauper, one in abject poverty, totally dependent on others for help and destitute of even the necessities of life. In Galatians 4:9, it is translated “beggarly.” (KJV)
The word “poor” in this first beatitude relates then to people understanding their helplessness and weakness. There was nothing within their power they could do to fix this for themselves. In order for them to rise above this helpless and destitute situation, they would need the help of someone else, just like a beggar would. That someone would be Jesus.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (Matthew 5:3 MSG)
“What wealth is offered to you when you feel your spiritual poverty! For there is no charge to enter the realm of heaven’s kingdom. (Matthew 5:3 The Passion)
“Poor in spirit” doesn’t have anything to do with our natural bank account and finances, and everything to do with our spiritual bank accounts. Being poor in spirit is about understanding our need for a Savior. Being poor in spirit is about being humble, accepting and even asking Jesus for help, because we don’t have all the answers. It is a mindset where we understand are nothing without God. Apart from Him, we are in spiritual poverty, but In Christ is where we truly live and find the abundance riches of the Kingdom. Again, Jesus was not talking about monetary things, but rather things of a spiritual nature.
Being poor in spirit is recognizing and acknowledging that we are sinners. It’s where we set aside our pride and self-righteous attitudes and empty ourselves before a Holy and just God. It’s where we call out to a God full of mercy and grace.
We empty ourselves; our heart and our mind of all the world values or tells us is valuable and we look to God to find our value and worth in Him and with Him. Being poor in spirit is about recognizing and placing value on God and His Kingdom and not on earthly possessions.
No matter what condition or place we find ourselves in, we can be content because we have the knowledge that Christ is with us and for us. It is when we are with Him that we can be blessed whether we are rich or poor, loved or hated, joy filled or sorrowful, etc….
This is indeed the Good News of the Gospel! We must each recognize our need for Jesus because it is only through confession and belief in Him that we will enter the Kingdom of heaven.
And what is God’s “living message”? It is the revelation of faith for salvation, which is the message that we preach. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation. 10 The heart that believes in him receives the gift of the righteousness of God—and then the mouth gives thanks to salvation. 11 For the Scriptures encourage us with these words:
“Everyone who believes in him will never be disappointed.”
12 So then faith eliminates the distinction between Jew and non-Jew, for he is the same Lord Jehovah for all people. And he has enough treasures to lavish generously upon all who call on him. 13 And it’s true:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Yahweh
will be rescued and experience new life. (Romans 10:9-13 The Passion Translation)
This week I would like to Highlight Lisa from Lisa Notes! Over at her place you can join her and sign up for a Scripture memorizing challenge which includes The Beatitude verses. How awesome is this, and what perfect timing as well. I just love the way God orchestrates all these little details. I hope you will hop on over and sign up with Lisa and join in with memorizing these verses. Blessings
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How true that we are blessed when we realize how spiritually poor we are as sinners. When we embrace our sheer hopelessness in doing life in our own strength. It’s only when we embrace that we are poor are we open to the wealth that Christ’s grace provides. Lovely!
bev -exactly – you put it so beautifully. It is when we embrace we are poor that it opens us up to the wealth of Christ! You hit it exactly. Thank you for being here today.
I do love the way the Message renders this verse, because while “poor in spirit” is something we might not understand EVERYONE knows what it’s like to be at the end of our rope!
Michele – I did too – wow how many times have I said I was at the end of my rope and yet not fully understanding what that meant spiritually for me. Thanks for being here today.
I love reading your research on this, Debbie. Knowing the background of Greek and Hebrew words is always helpful to me. I just put this on our Hide His Word FB group page. Thanks for sharing about our memory challenge, too. So far, so good! I’ve got this first beatitude down pat. 🙂
Thanks Lisa for sharing it on your FB group page! I so appreciate the share love. You are most welcome for sharing about your challenge as well. I think the two go hand in hand, and sometimes know what the verse really means help get it in our hearts and memory better… or at least it does for me. 🙂 Blessings
I have always loved the Isaiah 61 Scripture! One of my faves!
Thanks for the feature this week! It’s an honor. 😊
Oh me too Rachel! I love it for so many reason and you are most welcome for the feature – your post was excellent and it got the most clicks in one week that I have ever seen in the year of doing #TuneInThursday – congratulations 🙂
I hope you’ve been having a great week! Thanks for hosting!
I am Lisa – thank you so much! I hope your week is going just as good.
Thank you for breaking down this scripture. Sometimes I rush right through my reading and miss the true meaning. Thank you for hosting.
You are most welcome Maree. I do the same thing, and God has been after me to slow it down and take it in and dig in a little. LOL I pray my posts continue to bless you.
This is my favorite beatitude. I hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Today I brought my Strawberry Crepes with Peach Sauce, Tag Along Cheesecake and Sausage and Hash Brown Cheddar Casserole Enjoy your week!
Thank you Marilyn! Yes, it was a nice time with family and friends and a lot less stressful than years past. LOL I saw your tasty recipes, I am so looking forward to trying them both! Yummy 🙂 Glad to have you hear at the community sharing your tasty goodies
I love your insights. There’s always something to learn. I hope you are having a great week so far. Thanks for the party.
Thanks Jas! Yes, there is always something to learn 🙂 you are most welcome for the party too 🙂
Always filled with compassion, isn’t He, Debbie? I love how the spiritually needy aren’t condemned, but blessed. Oh how He loves us. 🙂
Oh yes Brenda – He most certainly is. 🙂 He loves us so very much 🙂
I love that Message version – I want to live “at the end of my rope” daily – not just in crisis. blessings on you and your ministry, deb!
oh, check out the Beatitudes paintings at hyattmoore dot com
Sue – I love reading some of the Scriptures in other versions too. It helps me gain a better understanding and The Message puts things in everyday language that I understand a little better then others. Thank you also for pointing at the paintings they are absolutely beautiful!
Oh, how I wish our culture would return to saying, “Blessed are the poor”. Thanks for this thoughful post!
Thanks for visiting Carri and yes, our culture so needs a shift in our thinking doesn’t it? Blessings
What a thoughtful and enlightening post on poverty, the poor, and The Beatitudes. I loved it! So glad I stumbled onto your website.
Thank you so much Laurie! Welcome and I am so glad you stumbled across my site as well.
Our small group is studying the sermon on the mount!
Elizabeth – I bet that is a fantastic study!
I did a study on the Beatitudes years ago and I loved it! Can’t wait to go over them again with you. 🙂 Blessings!
Danielle, I am so glad you are planning to join me for the series. 🙂 I don’t ever remember studying the Beatitudes other than the occasional Sunday sermon on them. It has been so fun diving in to learn more about what Jesus meant.
We in the West sadly do build our own kingdoms, instead of totally concentrating on building God’s kingdom!
Remember you are always welcome to drop by for a cup of inspiration!
I think that religion often gives us a ‘way out’ from true feelins of ‘poor in spirit’–we feel that if we follow the rules of our religion, we’re ok with God–when in reality, we are just stunted in growth. It takes a daily relationship with our Savior to recognize our shortcomings and sins and to know that we are indeed ‘poor in spirit.’
Great points Anita! You are so right – religion is about rules and making sure we do everything just right and check all the correct boxes, but Jesus isn’t after religion, He’s after relationship – and as we are in true relationship with Him, we truly see how very poor in spirit we are and how much we need Him. Blessings and thanks for commenting today.
I love this! Being Poor in Spirit (and being content and happy with that) is just as countercultural is it is to be poor in finances, it seems! Being poor in spirit is actually recognizing that not only can you NOT do it on your own, but realizing that you don’t WANT to do it alone! So good! Great series!
Oh thank you so much Karrilee! I am so glad you were blessed by this post and yes – you nailed it – it’s not just understanding we can’t do it by ourselves it’s NOT wanting too! Blessings and thanks for sharing your thoughts today 🙂
Debbie, thank you for your words and teaching. You very eloquently broke down the explanation of poor in spirit. It reminded of a sermon our pastor had spoke in regards to this—it truly touched my heart. The imagery of being lowly, even lower than the lowest—so that He can raise us to new life in Christ. A picture of not only salvation but restoration. Simply beautiful. Blessings to you, this day. 🙂
You are most welcome Sonya – and thank you so much. As I have been studying and digging into The Beatitudes I am learning so much. Oh that picture/imagery is so powerful to think up and so true as well. Blessings upon you as well.
“No matter what condition or place we find ourselves in, we can be content because we have the knowledge that Christ is with us and for us.” Amen! Thanks for doing the research and sharing it! We’re glad you joined us at the #LMMLinkup. Blessings to you, Debbie!
So true Gayl! Having the knowledge that Christ is with us and for us is a game changer isn’t it? Blessings and thanks for hosting #LMMLinkup and for stopping by here as well.