Daily Archives: February 27, 2012

Beatitudes, part 1: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

I haven’t been writing much as of late because my new job is taking up most of my time.  My family — my first ministry and primary responsibility, as I see it — takes up the rest of my time.

So I haven’t been keeping up with the promised spate of updates, i.e. Contradiction Tuesday and Scripture Saturday.

Yet, this past month has seen nearly 4,000 hits — the most hits in a month since beginning this ministry way back in 2006.  And I am doing nothing to promote this website — no content syndication, no cross-posting on other blogs, no link exchanges, no paid advertisement, no SEO.  I’m not even doing the simple blog promotion tool of updating on a regular basis.

It is time for new content.

So, I will post on the Beatitudes for the next eight days.

Let’s start at the top:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)

The Beatitudes promise a later fulfillment to those who have a felt need presently.  The worst pop theology promoted by the likes of Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, and others promises that Christians can (to borrow Osteen’s phrase) live their best lives now.

No, no, no, no.  Are these guys even reading the same Bible as I am?

The Great Physician has come to heal us, and in order for us to seek his help, we must feel the need.  In the case of the first Beatitude, those of us who are poor in spirit right now are going to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

The deeply spiritual are often hypocritical.  Jesus described the Pharisees of his day as “whitewashed tombs,” shiny on the outside but filled with death on the inside.  Frequently, our Lord said people who followed all of the “proper rituals” were getting their rewards “right now.”

Meaning no reward in the future.

Jesus’ brother James wrote, “. . . has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (Jms 2:5).  James acknowledges what Jesus taught: those who are poor are blessed with great faith.

And why not?  The rich often rely on their wealth to get them through.  Take the rich young ruler in Luke as an example.  By the same token, the spiritual among us rely on their rituals as their righteousness.

Those poor in spirit, however, must rely on Christ as their righteousness.  They have nothing else to fall back on.

It seems much easier to rely on God when you have nothing than when you have been blessed with everything.