Poor in Spirit

We are going to spend the next few weeks talking about the Beatitudes. If you want to know how to carry your spirituality into action, these simple, beautiful, transformative teachings are a great place to start. The name says it all; these aren’t just ways to feel, they are ways to be. Be-attitudes. It’s corny, but it works.

With each of the eight statements in Matthew 5:3-10, Jesus takes a seemingly negative trait and turns it into a positive one. In so doing, He challenges us to look beyond outer appearances and prior experiences and move into transcendence and faith. He encourages us to take what we find and carry it into action.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3, NASB)

As simple and straightforward as they may seem, the Beatitudes are also often misunderstood and controversial, used to justify ideas and behavior that don’t really match the life or teaching of Jesus Christ. In this case, for example, the first Beatitude is sometimes understood as an admonition to do without and to suffer.

Let’s remember together that Jesus turned water into good wine, that He fed the multitudes, and that He said "...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10, NASB)" If material demonstration was to be avoided, I think the miracles would have happened very differently, or not at all.

The Bible teaches us, over and over again and in all kinds of ways, to judge, think, and live on a spiritual basis rather than on a material one. Large or small, the size of your bank account has no bearing on how happy, fulfilled, or spiritually mature you are.

Let me put that another way. It’s not the thing, it’s the idea. If all you think about is money, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of it or not; money is still your master. The goal here is freedom. That’s why this Beatitude is about being poor in spirit.

The idea here is to remember that we are not the source of good, life, love, or power in our lives. Similarly, we are not here to try and hoard what comes our way. Being poor in spirit has to do with being in touch with the flow, with remembering that what we have, God has given. It’s a loan, and we pay it back by paying it forward. That cycle of blessing is why we are here. Let’s get started.