“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 NKJV)
What does it mean to be blessed? The Greek word used is makarios meaning happy or blessed. To be blessed implies divine favor and to be happy is a desire dear to all our hearts. When humans make a list of those who are blessed we tend to pick those with good health, those with great wealth, those with many talents, those who look great, those with no apparent troubles, those who are popular, those who have the best jobs, those with the best families, those who can change things, etc. However, in the next few months I plan to look at a different list of those who are blessed; a list that Jesus gave us. “
Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This may be a strange concept but Jesus begins His list of those who have God’s favor with those who recognize that they are not good enough. Of all the places humans look for the blessed, this is not usually one. Our world idolizes the bold, the confident, the self-assured, the successful, but the ones who feel in the depths of their being that they are a mess? Really?
Perhaps a primary reason that Jesus speaks of the poor in spirit as blessed is that the great obstacle in coming to Christ is pride. Pride says “I can do it,” “I can earn it,” “I’m not that bad.” This is, in fact, the primary problem identified by Jesus in the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:17 “Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’” while in reality, they are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” Pride will not bend the knee to admit its own weakness. This is why scripture testifies that God “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” James 4:6.
Apparently, God has a different opinion of those who are truly blessed. The prophet Zechariah describes God’s blessing being poured out in chapter 12:10 “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced…” The whole passage is well worth the read but more on that next month. For now, it is critical to realize that when God starts blessing people it may come out of a time when they feel most unblessed. At the moment when you know you are at your lowest, God is nearest.
The first of the “blesseds” that Jesus describes gives us a picture of how a walk with God looks. It does not look like putting on a good show or trying to cover up your scars. It is an appeal to give up the idea of trying to “sell yourself” to God as if you were trying to look good for a job interview. A blessed walk with God begins with an honest heartfelt evaluation of our spiritual condition. It is a call to come into the light and stop trying to hide. It is to this group that Jesus gives the incredible promise “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” There is great hope for those who have come to the end of themselves for God “gives grace to the humble.”
Today we can join the ranks of God’s blessed. Ask God to pour out on you a realization of your true spiritual condition so that your heart will forget any of its pretensions to self-righteousness. “Lord please help me to see. I need Your grace to see myself as I am so that I will stop making excuses, shifting blame and making empty promises. Help my heart to see that the only hope I have is in You! In Your name, amen.”