"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." NIV
What exactly does Jesus mean by poor here? The Greek word used is ptochos which means what we would take for poor to mean today -- destitute, lacking wealth, influence, position, or honor. Interestingly, the word's origin means "to crouch" and is related to the Greek word, ptoeo which means "to be terrified." So who is getting the kingdom of heaven? The destitute guy who is crouching in terror? Absolutely.
Jesus is speaking of the state of our heart. Think of it this way. I'm in a battle with a very powerful enemy. I have my weapons that I've crafted. I think they are pretty good going in. I'm feeling strong. Got my weapons, got my armor, got some other people around me who are doing the same. I'll defeat whatever comes my way. Then this huge army rolls in to face me. They are loaded to the hilt with weapons, armed warriors, and they have a powerful general that cannot be equaled. Just the sight of them sends my knees to trembling.
So I have two choices here. I can arrogantly charge forward with my meager little arsenal and probably die a quick but horrible death. Or I can lay down my pathetic weapons and surrender to this power beyond anything I will ever be able to achieve.
Jesus wants us to realize our pathetic state of need. We are truly nothing. How many times do people miss out on the power of the gospel because they think they are all that. They can do whatever they want, make all the money they want, buy what they want, walk over whomever they want, live like they want. Jesus says to recognize your true poverty and simply surrender. Come before him empty-handed with fear and trembling, and He will give you the keys to heaven. With all our fancy houses, powerful jobs, padded bank accounts, and lofty ambitions we stand totally powerless when we come face to face with Jesus Christ. But we must acknowledge this and surrender to His power, His protection, His storehouse, His plans because we are nothing.
You see, we may be laying our meager weapons down before a powerful army, but the cool part is when we do, we are not taken prisoner. The General places on us an impenetrable armor and adds us to His army. We become one of His forever. It's a new kind of surrender -- from white flag to paradise. I choose to be poor.
- In the OT, Saul and Gideon were two very different military leaders. What can we learn from their differences and the outcomes they experienced?
- Compare and contrast "arrogant" with "poor in spirit." What is the outcome of each state of the heart and mind? Support with Scripture.
- What weapons am I holding that I refuse to admit are of my own making and need to be surrendered to God?