Prepare to Listen. I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD. (Zephaniah 3:12)
Prayerfully Read Matthew 5:3-4
3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Despite the many sermons I’ve heard and books I’ve read on the beatitudes, I still don’t understand them. Which is surprising because, in one sense, beatitudes are simple. Jesus used simple words. But they have anything but a simple meaning. After all the sermons and books failed to help me, I realized that beatitudes, like proverbs, can only be grasped with the heart, not merely the mind, through repetition and life experience. I discovered, as Stott notes, “The more we explore their implications, the more seems to remain unexplored. Their wealth is inexhaustible. We cannot plumb their depths.” Which is why we’ll take a go-slow approach with these nine blessed are, beginning with: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Notice its paradoxical nature—the poor, those who have nothing to speak of, possess now (not in the future) the richest of treasures, the kingdom of heaven. They’re poor yet rich! Poverty humbles people, forcing them to seek help outside of themselves. The poor of spirit are humble and lowly, utterly dependent on God. They admit they can’t cope on their own, that the salvation they’re called now, not merely in a distant future, is beyond their ability to live alone. They swallow their pride and humbly depend on God for all that is needed to live life fully and freely. They seek refuge in God alone, admitting their inability to take care of themselves. They’re the people God promised to leave in our midst.
What does it mean to you to be poor in spirit? Try practicing this today.
Respond in Prayer
Lord, keep teaching me what it means to be poor in spirit so that I experience, in the now, the kingdom of God. Amen.
Live Obediently. Practice poor in spirit.
 Stott, John R. W. Christian Counter Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1978, p. 30.
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Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.