Poor in Spirit • Devotion #1: Bankrupt

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

“Blessed are the poor?” The Bible often challenges us to believe contrary or differently than we currently think or act. This “blessed” statement was made by Jesus as He taught His disciples on the side of a hill near the Sea of Galilee. The biblical account, which is now called The Sermon on the Mount, records Him saying that there is a blessedness or happiness that comes from being poor.

Do you remember the board game Monopoly? In order to succeed at this real estate game, one player must remain financially solvent while driving all other opponents into bankruptcy by shrewdly buying and developing pieces of property. I recall playing this game for hours and hours, only to be driven into poverty by one of the other players in the end. I do not remember winning that game much, and I certainly did not feel blessed ending up in bankruptcy! Someone once said, “Money can never buy happiness.” Apparently, that person never played Monopoly, as the winner always seemed happy to me.

Jesus’ proclamation, “Blessed are the poor” may seem a little shocking to us at first probably because we have a tendency to go through life as if we were playing Monopoly all the time. We define poverty as the state of being we are in lacking material possessions. Being rich, on the other hand, means that our possessions are many. As in Monopoly, the very idea of being poor carries with it the stigma of unhappiness. This is why Jesus’ statement seems outrageous at first. He makes it sound like that in order to enter into a blessed life, we must be poor.

However, it helps us to understand that Jesus is not talking about mankind’s external condition but their internal poverty, or spiritual condition. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” He was communicating that true blessedness occurs when a person recognizes that they are spiritually bankrupt, see their own inability to do anything, and turn to Him to supply their spiritual need.

Not only are the “poor in spirit” blessed, but “the kingdom of heaven” is theirs as well. No prideful, self-reliant person has ever obtained a place in God’s kingdom. A real understanding of our spiritual poverty is critical in breaking our prideful spirits. Humility must come before the true blessedness of the kingdom can be obtained. The spiritual bailout that we all need can only be found by looking to the person of Jesus Christ. 

“Blessed are the poor?” Probably not if you are playing the game of Monopoly, but certainly true for all those who have seen their spiritual need and have turned to the Savior.

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