“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3)
“The poor in spirit know they have lost control, should never have tried to take control, and never again want control.” (Donald McCullough)
What does it mean to be blessed? For many, the idea of being blessed is to be happy. Many people comment on the idea that they are blessed with a nice job, a nice home and positive circumstances in their live. But is that the proper definition of being blessed? Is the pursuit of happiness a worthwhile endeavor? It seems that happiness is based upon a fleeting emotion and utterly dependent upon outward circumstances. So, to equate happiness with the idea of being blessed is to minimize the broader concept of the word.
The fullness of the idea of being blessed more strongly relates to the spiritual joy found only in the kingdom of God and not the kingdom of man. For this reason, Jesus starts out his sermon on the mount with that very clear distinction. Basically, he is outlining what out to be the highest priority in human existence. That is to receive the kingdom of God. That is to abdicate our throne of self-pursuit and self-interest and allow Christ to reign in our place. However, when life is good – when we run on the emotion of feeling blessed based on earthly circumstances – Christ often takes a back seat. For this reason, God allows very difficult circumstances to enter into our life to break our spirit; to change our mind-set; to recognize who really is the king of the universe.
Blessed are the poor in spirit because of sheer brokenness, they realize that God is the author of all good things for the sole purpose of keeping an eternal perspective in a temporal world. And the good in our lives are those difficult circumstances that break our pride, our rich self-sufficiency, our idea that the only way to be blessed in this life is to grab it by the gruff of its neck and exert complete control. It’s good because a broken and poor spirit is the only way to recognize the all-sufficiency of Christ.
Maybe today our prayer ought to be a dangerous one. Maybe we can pray to our Lord to grant us to be poor in spirit – whatever the cost may be. This would be the prayer of a true disciple of Christ.