What does it mean to be poor? Whether you consider yourself to be rich or poor, what do these terms really mean? I would dare say that most people in America would like to have more money, more success and just more things in general. We are essentially raised not to be satisfied with what we have. Think back on this last week and ask yourself if you saw the grass on the other side of the fence and thought that it looked pretty green. Or in other words, have you ever made this statement: "if only I had _____." Many of the products that we buy have labels that promise your satisfaction guaranteed, but then the same company comes out with a brighter, newer and better product that promises to be even greater in satisfaction.
Recently, I have been studying Matthew chapters 5-7. This week, I focused in on the 3rd verse of chapter 5; "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I am not really sure that I've understood what it means to be poor in spirit until recently. I had originally thought that it had to do with the depressed people who were not really happy with life. This concept makes no sense. What would be the real incentive in following Christ if it meant that you were going to be depressed, and by being that way, receive the kingdom of heaven?
When Christ said that the poor in spirit would inherit the kingdom, He was speaking to people who were not rich in spirit.
To be poor in spirit is not to be depressed, but to be completely aware that spiritual richness comes not from what we do, but surrendering to Christ, knowing that he alone can bring spiritual prosperity. The people that were listening to Christ speak that day were not much different than you or I. They had families, they had jobs, there were hardships they faced and I am sure some of them were not doing that well financially. To top it all off, they knew that they were not the spiritual elite that the Pharisees were. They knew very little about kingdom things. But in spite of all this, here is this fellow telling them that they are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of heaven. They are the heirs, despite the fact that by earthly standards, they don't measure up.
The hope that Christ gave to these people is the same hope that he gives us today. We are given the opportunity of heaven purely because of Christ's sacrifice and his desire to have a relationship with us. We cannot earn our way to heaven by being super-spiritual people who have the Bible memorized and give 90% of our income to the church. The hope we have been given is that we do not have to have our life all put together in a nice little package to get God's attention and earn our way into His presence. All we need is to recognize that we truly are poor in spirit and that we need Him in our lives. All we need to do is believe in Him and that he came and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our sake. All we need is to trust in His unfailing love and put our lives under His guidance. Recognizing that this life is meaningless without Him is what it means to be poor in spirit. Realizing that we cannot determine our own spirituality by what we do here on earth, but that a true richness in spirit comes from having Christ in our lives. He is the one that will bring a true richness into your life if you allow Him to.
This week, evaluate if you are trying to earn God's love or attention in some area of your life. If you are, let God know. Ask Him to give you richness in your life that only He can offer. Acknowledge that you are poor without Him and thank Him for the amazing gift that He has given us that makes us the richest people in the world.
Final Thought: Realize that you are poor in spirit, but more importantly, realize who can enrich your life and give Him your all.
Ryan Is currently a student at Northwest University and is working toward his degree in Pastoral ministries.