I apologize for not including the last phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” in my blog about the poor in spirit. And in fact to only write about the attitude without the goal would have left the reader with an overriding question – WHY? So I’ve added my correction to the bottom of this post.
(Matthew 5:3 WEB) Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Really – are men supposed to be poor in spirit?
Who wants to be in the dumps all the time and considered a wimp? I was one who was assumed to be the wimp. Strangers would hear my speech impediment and conclude I was a wimp. And I was to some degree – athletically challenged – a bookworm – cute is what girls called me. And after I was married and a father I became a dancer.
But the laugh was on them. Early on in my life I figured out I had two ways to go with my problem. One was to become “like them” and be tough, which I could do. And the other was to think for myself. Which I’ve done for all my life. In fact, to me, this is the distinguishing mark of an adult. Hard to tell in our conformist society.
Humble – Not Poor
Billy Graham said a better word than “poor” is “humble”. Don’t confuse humble with humiliated. Humble is the opposite of being prideful. Not having to always have our way, but to be able to defer to others.
It also recognizes authority over us. In America that would be the President. And we have checks and balances on the President so that no one branch of government can rule another. In the church that is Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior. There are churches and denominations that recognize the Pastor as the authority who controls hiring and firing, the budget, and the ministries. The Roman Catholic has a Pope who determines doctrine of the church, appointments of church officials, and who is considered a Saint.
I recognize the total superiority of Jesus Christ alone. I view my persona in relation to Him. And in this there is no boasting, only great reverence and thanksgiving what he has given me when I have nothing to offer in return.
When I first became a Christian I was told about the humility of the Apostle Paul. When I read the books of the Bible that he wrote I thought “you’ve got to be kidding”! This guy has an opinion about everything. And he’s not shy about saying so. It took me years to figure him out.
Although I found he had a choleric personality, his own writings reveal a submissive spirit to God and the truth. I’ve included several scriptures below that point this out. And while he was humble he was no wimp either.
Paul had pointed out the other Apostles traveled with their families and were fed and housed by the churches they were in. Paul chose to burden himself and not the churches.
(1 Corinthians 9:18-19 WEB) 18What is my reward then? [Verily] that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my power in the gospel. 19For though I am free from all [men], yet I have made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more.
Paul never claimed perfection or to be “holier than thou”. When we recognize we’re still the offspring of Adam we can then learn not to take ourselves too seriously.
(Romans 7:14-17 WEB) 14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do. 16If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law that [it is] good. 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
A man with pride insists on being his own man (whatever that means). But Paul humbled himself so as to win converts to Jesus Christ. He had no shame to become a servant to others. For Paul’s attention was for his King Jesus.
(1 Corinthians 9:22 WEB) To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak: I have become all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some.
strength is made perfect in weakness
A man with a handicap finds it’s easier to be humble – because to some degree it’s forced upon him. But Paul’s humility had nothing to do with that, but stayed steadfast in his evangelism, in spite of his infirmities.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 WEB) 7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
The most likely infirmity that Paul had was eyesight based on the following scripture. It’s also possible that his poor eyesight would be due to God striking him with blindness on his way to Damascus. He doesn’t blame God for this, but instead is thankful as pointed out in verse 10 above.
(Galatians 6:11 WEB) Ye see how large a letter I have written to you with my own hand.
Joseph and Jonathan
Two other men that stand out to me are Joseph and Jonathan. These are also two strong men with confidence, that are nonetheless also “poor in spirit”.
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
If you want an exercise of confusion, look up the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven”. But to my mind the text of the verse as a whole guides me to consider this term to point to here and now. Theologically this would prefer to amillennial view of end times. I’m a panmillennialist, meaning I don’t know for certain, but whatever the end times are will happen and I just need to do each day what God will have me do.
And I’ve already written about what the lifestyle of someone “poor in spirit” looks like. And in general we could? say “the church” is the kingdom of Heaven. For me that is a real stretch because first I’m in the church and I’m sinful. But forgetting the past I seek to be better each day and over my lifetime I am better.
But in “the church” we have many versions of what that should be. And almost every church engages in gossip. Gossip is sure way to drive people away. And there are many of our saints (Biblical term for church members) who do not get better.
When I think of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, I think of the dedicated souled out Christians actively engaged in benevolence and evangelism. I understand church programs. But I sometimes find them to just be entertaining and devoid of Christian edification.
I also consider the Kingdom of Heaven to be a place where people not only pray for the church and for illnesses; but also to pray for each saint and for their spiritual growth and well being. And to know each other well enough that they can pray specifically for the issues that impede spiritual growth in a saint.
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