“. . . the poor in spirit. . . .”
~~ a devotional
Oftentimes, when we read the Bible, we do so with our mind somewhere else. For example, how often have we read The Beatitudes with our thoughts truly centered on the meaning of those words. Today, I decided to center my devotional upon one scripture, separated from The Beatitudes and viewed in detail according to the scriptures. For this purpose, I chose:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:3 — Holy Bible: New Testament (KJV)
Matthew and Luke present scriptures that say something a bit different from the other–even though both are relating a scripture from the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. While Matthew (above) refers to “. . . poor in spirit . . .,” Luke, in chapter 6 and verse 20, says:
And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples and said, ‘Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.'”Luke 6:20 — Holy Bible: New Testament (KJV)
Granted, most who are poor are also poor in spirit because the poor are usually the downtrodden, those who are accustomed to doing without. When a poor person does without, there is usually no repercussions to anyone for allowing this to be–no one suffers other than the person who is poor. Thus, both presentations are correct. One does not detract from the other.
I decided to see what the Old Testament (Old Covenant) says about the “poor” or the “poor in spirit.”
For all those things hath mine hand made,and all those things have been, saith the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”Isaiah 66:2 — Holy Bible: Old Testament (KJV)
Here, God–Himself–acknowledges that the poor person is much more likely to “fear the Lord” and strive to live according to the Lord’s word. The wealthy are typically much more inclined to focus upon the fortune amassed and the means necessary to keep it. However, being poor by itself does not grant an eternal home with God. Rather, God said, “. . . even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.”
If we are contrite in spirt, God is able to mold and shape us according to His will. Thus, the “poor” must also be “poor in spirit.” He or she must have “a contrite spirit and tremble at [His] word.” Here, I must ask myself: Do I have a contrite spirit? Do I tremble at God’s word? Even if I think the answer is “Yes,” I must study on it to know the truth. The Beatitudes are a small portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which tells us “the spirit” of those who will go to heaven. How often–when we recite these in worship services–do we look at ourselves to determine if our spirit is right with God?
In Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus tells a parable regarding differences between the haughty, self-righteous man and one with a contrite heart.
- 9 — “And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:”
- 10 — “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.”
- 11 — “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”
- 12 — “I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess.”
- 13 — “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”
- 14 — “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Thus, Jesus said, those who are haughty in spirit will be least in heaven–if they even make it there–and those who are of a contrite, repentant spirit will be in heaven.
Have we ever TRULY REPENTED of something specific we have done? Have we talked to God about it as if He were a long-lost friend whom we had wronged and were begging their forgiveness?
Each of us has, or have had, something for which we should repent with such a spirit! Others may not be aware of this sin, but WE ARE! WE know what we have done, and we know it is wrong–even if it is not wrong in the eyes of man. Are we willing to humble ourselves as this publican did–as the apostle Matthew must have done? Matthew was a publican when Jesus called him to be His disciple. Have we ever declared ourselves to be a sinner” because of our sin whether it be past or present? The cleansing such a prayer provides is beyond the imagination of most.
Reading on in the same chapter, Luke 18: 15-17,
- 15 — “And they brought unto Him also infants, that He would touch them; but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
- 16 — “But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.“
- 17 — “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
Infants have no sin. They are pure of heart. If they do wrong, they do not realize it is wrong, thus it is forgiven. Jesus goes on in Luke chapter 18 to show that even those who have done good all their lives may be lacking what it takes to make it into God’s kingdom and into heaven. The parable of the ruler shows how a “good person” may not have a “contrite spirit.”
Luke 18: 18-25
- 18 — “And a certain ruler asked him saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
- 19 — “And Jesus said unto him, ‘Why callest thou Me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.”
- 20 — “Thou knowest the commandments. Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother.”
- 21 — “And he said, ‘All these have I kept from my youth up.'”
- 22 — “Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, ‘Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.”
- 23 — “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”
- 24 — “And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, He said, ‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
- 25 — “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
From an early age, this parable was powerful to me. I began sewing by hand at about the age of seven or eight. So, I knew how tiny is the eye of a needle! I knew, if this man had been good all his life, yet lacked the contrite spirit required to be a child of God, I must change my ways. For, while I rarely disobeyed, I was far from sinless; and it was time I look that sin in the eye.
There have been times throughout my life when I had to look deep into my soul and come face to face with God about something I had done which was keeping me apart from Him. My prayer, now, is: if anyone reading this devotional has been pricked in the heart and has need for a session of supplication unto you, God–give him or her the strength to humble self before you.
Here in the United States, we are beginning to see the first days of spring–signs of “life renewed,” which has been our subject today. Not all days here are pleasant–some reap harvests filled with pain. On those days, I try to remember–“This, too, shall pass. — Anonymous.
I hope, wherever you are, you can–at least–enjoy some of the weather bestowed upon you. Blessings!
Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993). Matthew 5. “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (29 March 2021). Matthew 5:3 KJV – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for – Bible Gateway.
Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993). Isaiah 66:2. “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (29 March 2021). Isaiah 66:2 KJV – For all those things hath mine hand – Bible Gateway
Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993). Luke 18. “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (29 March 2021). Luke 18 KJV – And he spake a parable unto them to – Bible Gateway.
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