Friday, 19 March, 2021
Title: Do you seek to be poor?
By: Ps Cheng Cheung
Matthew 5: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It has been said the ”Beatitudes” found in Matthew 5: 3-10 are commonly used to describe how each of these attitudes should “be” part of the Christian’s behaviour. They are the “Be Attitudes” that should be in each of our lives and give a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven.
This first Beatitude sets the tone for the Beatitudes that follow. Each beatitude gives a character trait and then a promise. The first and last beatitude end with the same promise – “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (v. 3 and 10). This is a great and wonderful promise. The question we need to ask ”Is the character trait demanded achievable?”
What does Jesus mean when he says
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”?
What does it mean to be blessed ?
‘Blessed’ reflected an inward contentedness that was not affected by circumstances. God is the truly blessed one, deserving of all our praise and adoration. So, man can only receive this blessing – and divine happiness which follows – from God. Out of His benevolence, He desires each of his children to experience divine blessedness.
Sadly, people often think true happiness comes from possessions, positive circumstances, or relationships. However, true happiness or blessedness is Divine – something only given by God to those living righteously. In addition, the world regularly seeks happiness in sin and the fruits thereof, but true happiness cannot be attained without holiness. There may be a temporary gratification in the pleasures of sin, but ultimately, it brings God’s curse and not his blessing.
Though “blessed” can be translated “happy,” it cannot be reduced to only happiness. Happiness ultimately comes because of being blessed by God. The word “blessed” also has the sense of being approved. Those who have these characteristics and are growing in them have God’s approval – they make God smile. He enjoys them and approves of their behaviour. Therefore, if that is your ultimate desire in life – to please God – then you should observe each of these Beatitudes closely and pursue them through God’s grace, to give God pleasure.
There is also a third sense of the word “blessed.” Not only does God approve of these people and bestow Divine happiness upon them, he also favours them. He lavishly bestows grace, mercy, and peace upon their lives. He favours them in a myriad of ways. Psalm 23:6 says, -“goodness and mercy”_ shall follow them all the days of their lives. Those who personify the Beatitudes are truly blessed by God.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
The Greek word ‘poor’ was used of those who were destitute with no resources (and therefore had to resort to begging). In Luke 16:20, it was used of Lazarus who lay at the gate of a rich man’s house, longing to eat crumbs that fell from his table. Such beggars often would hold one hand out for money and hide their face with the other hand because of shame. The word ‘poor’ here means “to shrink, cower, or cringe,” even as beggars did. In fact, a good translation for this word is the “beggarly poor.”
Now, try not to interpret the meaning of this word ”poor” literally but figuratively and spiritually. When Christ says, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to them,” “them” is emphatic in the Greek—literally meaning “them alone.” That is, only those who approach God recognising His greatness, purity, holiness, supreme grace and our own unworthiness, utter sinfulness, extreme woe, and inability to save ourselves (hence to shrink in shame) will enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Poor in spirit” does not mean that these people think they are worthless. That wouldn’t be true. All people are Divine image bearers and therefore have unimaginable worth. Rather, it refers to an awareness and admission of one’s utter sinfulness and lack of virtue before God. It is a recognition of one’s spiritual bankruptcy.
The great apostle Paul, despite all his achievements, demonstrated this poverty of spirit as he declared that nothing good dwelled in his flesh (Rom 7:18), that he was chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15), and least of all God’s people (Eph 3:8).
Spiritual poverty is necessary for salvation and sanctification. This is placed first in the Beatitudes, as it is both the doorway to the kingdom of heaven and the other attitudes. No one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless they have first come to a place where they recognize their inability to please God and be accepted by him on their own merit.
LET US PRAY
Heavenly Father, help me grow in spiritual poverty by knowing You more. As I know You better, may I see my own spiritual poverty clearer and therefore my need for Your mercy and grace. Help me focus on your Word, prayer and serving your people.
Remove from me the prideful and selfish spirit of this world. Help me to recognise my own wretchedness like Paul did and create in me a pure heart.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Themes taken from “The Sermon on the Mount: Experiencing God’s Kingdom on Earth” by Gregory Brown (Author)
尽管“有福”可以被翻译为“快乐” ，但它不能只被降格为此而已。快乐最终也是由上帝赐予的。“有福了”在字眼上也有被认可的意思。那些拥有这些特质并在其中成长的人得到了上帝的认可 — 上帝对他们微笑。他喜欢他们，并赞同他们的行为。因此，如果这是你在生活中的终极愿望是讨上帝喜悦，那么你就应该仔细观察八福，以上帝的恩典去追求实践它们，讨上帝喜悦。
“有福了”还有第三种意思。 上帝不仅认同这些人，赐他们从他而来的福份，而且蒙上帝的恩惠。他慷慨地赐他们恩惠、仁慈和平安。他以多种方式恩待他们。诗篇23:6 提到，“我一生一世必有恩惠、慈爱随着我，我且要住在耶和华的殿中，直到永远。”那些活出八福的人真的受上帝的祝福。