“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read over this passage and thought to myself, “Ok, be like poor folk, do without, make sacrifices.” and then carried on about my business. This was however, before I really dug down into the Word and took the time to study the word “poor”.
The word “poor” to me has been warped into focusing on what others were doing without. Poor people can’t afford Starbucks. Poor people can’t eat out as often as most. Poor people do not have as much as others, so for me to be poor in spirit, I should limit my luxuries to remain humble in nature. I vainly chose to do without certain things for myself and my family, so I could keep our souls humbled by what we did have. I would think about the people in biblical times who were able to take care of themselves, but still depend on the help of others to get by. That was poor to me. The old man who could walk, but could not carry a load. The woman who was capable of taking care of her household, but had no financial means because she was widowed. People who did without. My study in the beatitudes (or “be-attitudes”) revealed something much deeper and more significant than that.
The word “poor” in the context of Matthew 5:3 means to be completely helpless without outside assistance. To be destitute. To be bent ( Ptochos. ) Poor in this context isn’t about doing without, but being completely dependent on an outside source. Imagine the man in John 5 who waited at the pool of Bethesda to hopefully be picked up by a compassionate person, and placed into the pool. He was completely and utterly destitute. He could do nothing on his own without outside help. The man was at the complete mercy of another’s power to carry him on. Let that sink in. Are you at the complete mercy of another’s power to carry you on? We must always remember that our souls cannot function without the power of God. Our souls are to be at the mercy of God’s power through His Son.
This new understanding of the word “poor” in this particular passage threw my do-without-to-remain-humble-and-thankful attitude out the window. I am to completely cripple myself to the extent that life cannot go on without the outside help of another. This is the “poor” we must strive for as mentioned in Matthew 5:3. To truly be poor in spirit, we must acknowledge and completely surrender to the fact that we desperately need God. We must allow our hearts to be approachable. We must be willing to be corrected. We must be willing to learn and grow. We must let go of what we think we can do for ourselves, and realize our souls are crippled without God’s power. This is poor in spirit. It is not a high and mighty self-sacrifice of things, because in all honesty, we are controlling that sacrifice. It is a deep and utter helplessness of spirit because we simply cannot function without the power of our Creator.
I admit, it is hard to wrap my mind around this concept at times. I want to be in charge of my broken heart, and fix it myself. I want to be able to give myself the credit for a spiritual victory. I want to get myself through the problem I am facing. When I was a child, my dad used to show me how to change tires, fix flats, check the oil, change fuses, and spark plugs, along with many other things a man is “supposed” to do. He showed me these things to help me understand that I had to be self-sufficient. He taught me that I can’t depend on others to take care of my needs. On the other hand, he would also chime in, “When you get married, your husband needs to do these things for you; it’s his job to take care of you, and you better let him, but at the same time he may not always be there to save you.”
The struggle to be completely dependent on an outside source can be difficult, but is possible. I love the reminder God gives to us through
His word when we allow Him to be our only Source, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” God blesses us, sustains us, and fights for us, if we allow Him to do so. Complete surrender will have its reward in Heaven. God is telling His people through the words of His Son that there is nothing we can do to get to heaven. Nothing. He is asking us to cripple our desire to be in charge of this “task” we feel we have to complete, and instead, lean on the mercy that we received when we became a child of God.
Reading and picking apart Matthew 5:3 has really made me focus on rewiring my mind to the type of destitute state of spirit I need to possess in order to fully comprehend the power at work within me through Christ. The verse in Philippians 4:13 which states, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” simply cannot carry through if we do not allow ourselves to be poor in spirit. When we become poor in spirit, Christ takes over and glorifies the Father. It is simply a beautiful thing.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are you who completely and totally surrender all your being to the One who created you. Blessed are you who acknowledge you are desolate without the blood of your Savior. Blessed are you who are willing to be carried. For yours is the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson serves as Come Fill Your Cup’s Marketing & Publicity Manager. She and her family worship at the Madill church of Christ in Madill, OK where her husband, Jake, is the pulpit minister. She is a stay-at-home-mom with three children who enjoys photography as well as speaking and writing. Be sure to check out her blog at http://transformingperfection.com/