“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 NIV)
Does poor in spirit mean spiritual poverty? Only if the poverty is a realization of one’s lack of God and the search for Him is on. God blesses that kind of sincere effort.
Or could it mean economically poor? That’s the perspective of the NLT. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him…” This indicates that those with less personal resources are blessed through that poverty because it’s a situation God uses to draw people to Himself. They can’t provide for themselves so they look to God to provide.
It could mean both, and more.
How can the rich be poor in spirit? By also realizing their need for God. Though they have so much, they can’t buy God. They can’t give anything that satisfies the relationship except themselves. But when they do…. “the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
So, there’s hope for the poor who need more – the spiritually poor, economically poor, or any other kind of pauper. We are welcomed to the Kingdom. Our resources are there.
Our global partners all work in places of poverty. Many of those places are economically poor, but a few are not. Some places are wealthy countries, yet the numbers who follow Christ are few. Why is that? I believe it’s because their favorable economic situation tricks them into thinking they have all they need. The more they have, the less they need from God. They have made themselves comfortable in this world, but they are spiritually poor.
All the places our global partners work deal with spiritual poverty. But when economic poverty is also present and people discover the riches available to them in Christ, is it any wonder the joy now present in their lives? Many who go on global trips to these kinds of places almost always return with the same thought: Christians there have so much joy and hope in following Christ and yet have so little of this world’s goods. Kenya, India, Swaziland, Guatemala and more have all shown us examples of this kind of rich faith.
Why does that keep surprising us? Because we tend to put our hope in this world’s riches, not trusting the words of Jesus that “the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Poor in spirit is not a curse. Jesus calls it a blessing because He has made it an opportunity to enter the kingdom.
What is the kingdom of heaven and where is it? I’ll give you a few thoughts next time.
Til next week, Dan