Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why the Poor are Blessed?

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

Matthew chapter 5:1-12 is called the Beatitudes. If I’m not mistaken the word derives from ‘beauty’ and ‘attitude’ which mean ‘beautiful attitude’ as described by Lord Jesus Himself. As we read the Beatitudes, we must understand that it was addressed basically to Jesus’ disciples (therefore, this part of the Bible verses is not suitable for the nonbelievers. Not that they can’t understand, but that it doesn’t make sense to them). The Beatitudes describe the attitudes and characteristics of a true disciple, not a code or set of rules to be followed legalistically. This is how Jesus’ followers ought to live.

Blessed” is a happy word. It describes someone who is to be congratulated because his or her place in life is a fortunate and happy one. But then we read the recipients: “are the poor in spirit” – not so happy words. Why “the poor” are “blessed”? Go to the city of Kuala Lumpur, can we say that the poor are blessed? Walk around any Sarawak marketplaces, do we say that ‘Wow, look at the poor, they are so blessed!’? Surely, there were many poor people during Jesus’ time. I bet they will roll their eyes if this is what Jesus meant by “the poor.

The poor” that Lord Jesus referring here is to the poor “in spirit” not to the poor in pocket! There are two words for “poor” in Jesus’ contemporary language: first, one who has nothing superfluous; second, one who has nothing at all – totally bankrupt and has no resources. Lord Jesus used the second meaning here. Therefore, to be “poor in spirit” is not to be poor-spirited in the sense of timid or cowardly or materially poor but to acknowledge (very important word, acknowledge) one’s spiritual bankruptcy before God.

Do you “poor in spirit” by recognize and confess your unworthiness and unrighteousness in the sight of God? Do you “poor in spirit” by not being proud and self-sufficient? Do you “poor in spirit” that you call out to God for mercy because in reality you’re bankrupt and have nothing except Him? In summary: “Blessed” are those who acknowledge that in the presence of God, they are nothing, bankrupt spiritually because to them belongs “the kingdom of heaven.” Not a reward for good works, but the “poor in spirit” depend on God.  Not to be earned, but a gift of grace. Happy! Happy! Blessed!

Jesus painted the picture of blessedness in reverse of what the men of the world
considered fortunate and happy. He is different; we’re different, my friends.
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