By Beau Leaman
Jesus starts the Sermon on the Mount by saying, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit” (Matthew 5:3). I believe all Scripture to be intentional, persuasive, and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). It is for this reason that Jesus intentionally started the Sermon on the Mount with this key phrase, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” What exactly does this phrase mean? Does it mean the Spirit of God inside us must be poor? Is it talking about our own spirit? Does it refer to our personal happy barometer in how we’re feeling? Does it refer to our hope and endurance? Does it mean that those feeling thankful in the moment are blessed? I believe in order for us to ask the question we have to understand two points. These points are both fundamental and foundational if we’re to ask the question, “What exactly does this phrase mean?” Let’s begin discussion.
The first of two points we must ask ourselves in answering this question has to do with the awareness of our depravity. As fallen creatures, we often stumble around keeping clear of the “major sins” of today’s evangelical Christianity. For some of us (depending on where you’re at), I think it’s easy to get caught in the feel-good bubble because we have not committed adultery, engaged in drunkenness, or are in a homosexual lifestyle. We often replace these “major sins” with “respectable sins.” Examples would include: gossip, gluttony, outbursts of anger, lust, slander, etc. Later, in Matthew 5:8, He continues with saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” God calls us to purity and holiness and the more we are pure and holy, the more we shall see God. Our depravity fits perfectly with this analogy. The more we realize what separates us from God, the greater the realization of our depravity. Oswald Chambers says, “The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, ‘Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.’ … The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Chris accomplishes His work.” This leads to the second point.
In Matthew 4:17 it says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus starts his initial preaching with a call to repentance and starts the Sermon on the Mount with a call to realize our need for God’s help. What a point to be made! Repentance is the natural follow-up once we realize the proper place He holds in our life. This repentance cries from a genuine heart of poverty and genuine trust that He will and has the power to forgive us. This forgiveness frees us to do His work without any footholds restraining us to doing His work.
May God grant us the wisdom to realize and acknowledge those areas of our life we’ve held back from having a genuine and heartfelt relationship with Him. May God grant us the power to talk with Him no matter how big or small the circumstance may be. May God open our eyes so our faith and trust in Him would increase all the more for His Kingdom’s sake.