Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit, For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
By Wissam Nasrallah
We continue our journey through the beatitudes by reflecting on what it means to be poor in spirit.
The spiritual dimension of poverty is a humble dependence on God. It is knowing deep down that we are so spiritually poor that we have nothing to bargain with to gain God’s favor and love. In other terms, we have no resources or anything of value, not even a good ‘wasta’ (a person with connections or clout) to buy or bully our way into heaven. Tim Keller sums it up nicely in his book Generous Justice: “It means to see that you are deeply in debt before God, and you have no ability to even begin to redeem yourself. God’s free generosity to you, at infinite cost to him, was the only thing that saved you.”
God’s free generosity to you, at infinite cost to him, was the only thing that saved you.
The poor know that, it is their daily plight. The wealthy, on the other hand tend, to naturally depend on their wealth, networks and resources to solve their problems. Most of us are neither poor nor wealthy, but rather belong to the middle-class. This creates in us what Tim Keller calls a “middle-class spirit”: “You feel that you’ve earned a certain standing with God through your hard work”. However, the Bible tells us that our “righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, our hard-earned miles won’t do us any good because we will always fall short of God’s holy standards.
The only remaining option, therefore, is to cry out to the Lord for mercy by emptying ourselves of our pride and self-sufficiency.
The good news is that the “Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).