Blessed Are the Poor
By Dr. Jim Riley
The Beatitudes are an amazing teaching of Jesus who offers a radically different way of living by faith in God. What he teaches is so opposite of what we think of how the world works. His first statement is a perfect example of what at first seems almost insane. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Can this really be true?
- My dad grew up in poverty during the days of the Great Depression. When his father abandoned the family and left his mother and two younger siblings without any money, my dad was forced to drop out of high school and go to work. He took a job as a share cropper in the South. He later learned a trade and was able to manage a better income, but during the Depression it barely met the needs of him and his family. He married my mom and had my sister. I came along 12 years later when my dad had begun to make a better living, but there were times when he was laid off and our income dropped. I never saw my family as poor because my dad never saw himself as a poor man. I gained the advantage of his seeing dignity and value in his hard work and his faith in God. Although I never had the material advantages of most of the kids I went to school with, I had the spiritual advantage of a godly father and mother who instilled in me a great self-esteem and a faith that I was valued by God.
- What is meant by Jesus by the poor being blessed? Jesus is not glamorizing poverty; he is demonstrating the value of every human being no matter how little materially they have. Often the poor are viewed as unimportant or worse not worth anything. Jesus sees them as loved by God, and not as the world does when it relegates them to the bottom of society. He sees them high and elevated in God’s sight.
- What is it to be blessed by God? It means happy and content. Jesus sees the poor as bearers of the kingdom of God. They reflect the characteristics of the kingdom – love, joy, and peace – the eternal things the world cannot give. The material things of this world are temporary and what God gives is of eternal value.
- What does it mean to be content in life? Paul gives us the answer to contentment. In a way Paul is explaining what Jesus taught about the poor being blessed. He says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12
- What are the advantages of the poor being blessed by God?
- Advantage of being valued by God
- Advantage of being open to receiving from God
- Advantage of being able to trust in God and not yourself
- What does it mean to receive the Kingdom of God?
- It means love, peace and joy. The Kingdom is not a geographical place but an emotional spiritual place to live
- Jesus became poor for us! We have the riches of God’s grace through his poverty. He gave up all his riches in heaven and came to earth and lived a life of poverty. When he died on the cross all he had of any material possessions was the clothing on his back, and that was taken from him. He died naked on the cross with nothing of his own so that he could give us everything.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9