Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thursday March 6, 2014 Matthew 5:1-3

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain,and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. (1)Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: (2)“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(3) (Matthew 5:1-3 NKJV).

I like to read a couple different translations of the Bible because it helps me to understand better. In doing that I discovered that the word  "happy" is sometimes used for "blessed";  "happy" in the sense of joy which is independent of circumstance.  When Jesus says "poor in spirit" I believe he was talking about common people who felt they had  nothing of value spiritually. It seems a lot like when, referring to little children ,He said "to such belongs the kingdom of heaven". In contrast would be the religious leaders who considered themselves "all that" and believed they had no need of spiritual teaching.  Just as those who are materially poor must rely on others to help them, the poor in spirit must rely on God's grace through the person of Jesus to be included in the kingdom of heaven.  If we don't realize we need Jesus to get there, the kingdom is unattainable. Nothing we can do can buy heaven for us...only our faith in Jesus can do that. 

12 comments:

Kelly Supek said...

I love how you examined this scripture, and totally agree with your interpretation. When I think of the poor in spirit, I also think of those with a servant's heart. I believe you truly need to care for others more than yourself, as Jesus did, to be most blessed and feel closest to God. Along with that blessing, I also believe that those who strive to live their lives that way here on earth will be greatly rewarded in their eternity in heaven.

Kelly Supek said...

Just to claryify, I believe the greater the effort we put forth on earth, the greater our reward in heaven. :o)

Nikki Edleman said...

That Jesus, and his enigmatic statements about the "Kingdom of God" or more particular to Matthew, the "Kingdom of Heaven"! (The author of this gospel is thought to be an observant Jew who refrained from saying the name of God.) Whenever I come across Jesus referring to "the kingdom", I can't help but try to understand what he was getting at. Although it is tempting to think that Jesus is guaranteeing those who are lacking in THIS world a front-row box-seat in the afterlife, this interpretation bothers me. Are those who are lacking/poor just supposed to suck it up for now, while they suffer on this earth compared to others? This tends to lead to a patronizing, false-holy view of the poor, which is just a way for those who are not poor to feel better about themselves. I have to believe, rather, that Jesus means something else by all his "Kingdom" talk. I have to believe that the kingdom is at hand, now, here on this earth, and that those who are suffering now are being told to strain forward, reaching out to grasp it NOW. And all of us-- poor in spirit or not-- have a responsibility to start building that kingdom right now.

Linda W said...

To follow a little more from what Nikki's perspective, I do believe we are to start building the Kingdom of God now. World Vision President Richard Stearns talks about this is his book "Unfinished". He talks about "The Magic Kingdom" (where I live in the Hudson Valley of New York) and the "Tragic Kingdom" (over 3 billion people live on less than $2.00 a day). Four years ago, God nudged me to become a child ambassador and speak on behalf of the extreme poor through World Vision. Before I could do that though, years before I had to admit before God that I was the one in fact who was "spiritually poor". By this, I mean to be open and vulnerable to God-- to admit I needed a Savior and His grace. I spent years trying to basically "save myself" through right living, practicing the right sort of Christianity or right beliefs. So God had to pretty much hit me upside the head with a 2 x 4 before I saw that what He wanted most was my heart not my performance for Him. Admitting we are the ones who are "spiritually poor" and in need of Jesus pretty much runs counter to our basic human nature-- our desire to be seen as self-sufficient, competent adults capable of managing our own lives.

Gladys said...

Nikki's comment reminds me of James W. Moore's book _God Give Me Patience... and Give It to Me Now_, which I read with others in Bible study. Several of us agreed this sounded like a harsh prayer. Should we really ask God to give us something _now_? Does that not sound a little harsh and demanding? The answer is no, not to our loving Father!

I wonder, Kelly, if those with a servant's heart are really poor in spirit. It sounds to me like those who can put others first have a better grip on life. The poor in spirit might be the Scrooges among us, rich in every outward way, but like the Pharisees only wash the outside of the cup, our interior lives--thoughts, feelings and relationships--are stuck in the mud.

Gladys said...

By the way, my name is not Gladys, it's Tim!

Sue Alleman said...

It is so awesome to read all of the different perspectives! Would poor in spirit also apply to being humble yet faithful? I think of the Kingdom starts here if we seek it.

Tracy said...

Sue- I believe that humility is the very crux of the matter and in this passage I think that the poor in spirit whom Jesus refers to are folks who are truly humble to the point that they realize they have nothing spiritually (or otherwise) without a relationship with God.It is repeated over and over again both in Old Testament and New that God blesses the humble but opposes the proud:

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.-Proverbs 16:18

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,-1 Peter 5:6

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.-Matthew 23:12

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.James 4:6

This list could go on and on. Now pride is something I'd love to see others' input on. A few years back it would never have entered my mind that I suffered from pride (which in of itself shows what a problem I DID HAVE with pride!!!)Because I was shy and didn't enjoy attention etc. I was happily convinced that was one sin I didn't have to contend with. Fortunately (and I say that because sins we don't acknowledge are probably the most dangerous and most likely to keep us from growing in the Lord)the Lord has been revealing to me that pride is something very different from boldness or self esteem. Also I am being led to understand that pride is probably the root of pretty much ALL sin. Comments?

Tracy said...

AMEN! to Linda's comment!Been there done that...

Angie Kays-Burden said...

I love the passages in scripture that talk about God's kingdom... especially when I remember that Jesus taught his disciples (and us) to pray "your kingdom come, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN". Wherever we see a dark place, or something not happening according to God's will - we have the ability to bring the Kingdom of Heaven into the here and now - through prayer. I believe though to "see" these things, we need to acknowledge that we are poor in spirit... completely dependent on him, as Linda puts it so beautifully.

Henry McCarter said...

Happy are those who realize they are not self sufficient, that even the very spirit that keeps us alive is a Gift from God.

How do we justify God over blessing us.compared to the overwhelming majority of His children who suffer hardship, war, disease, and famine?

Pastor Jeremias Penicela, of Combine, Mozambique spent time with our New York Conference Volunteers in Mission team in 1998. He said that we.cannot judge why God chose for us to.be born in America, and for his family to be.born in Mozambique. We cannot judge God.

However, we do need to judge ourselves, what we do with our overabundance. How much can we give away? How can we serve God? How can we serve others?

It is not what you get.

It is what you do with what you gat.

How do we justify our overly abundant material, peace, and intact family blessings in contrast to the overwhelming paucity of even the basic necessities of food and shelter, of wars and tragedy that kills family members

Kathy Carpentier said...

I believe being poor in spirit is to be constantly hungry for God. In Greek, "poor" means "begging". Beggars beg all the time even when they are given. I am in need of my Savior and Lord constantly and desperately more and more the more I know Him. I cannot have enough of Him. It is confessing that I need Him every hour and and in total submission and dependence of my spirit, mind and body to seek what God wills. As the Holy Spirit places desire in my heart, seeking His help in living out what He has called me to be and constantly inviting Him to lead me. I believe this is what humility before God is. Putting trust in Jesus and walking in suffering and pain if need be. And through the walk we grow more like Him as we surrender our ambitions, will, desires, hopes and plans. He will carry us even if we don't even have the strength to hang on to Him...He is faithful.
So I pray, Lord, make me broken so I can be healed and become whole in Jesus. I NEED you, JESUS.