Blessed Poverty

David Bast

Read: Luke 18:9-14

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:3)

We don’t generally include “poor” under the column of things labeled “blessed.” For us poor is bad. We link it with failure. When we apply it to people, it’s usually a term of sympathy: “Poor old Joe.” “Oh, that poor woman!” We’re much more likely to associate blessedness with being wealthy.

But Jesus says blessedness begins with poverty. He’s not saying that it’s good to be poor in a literal sense. (No one who’s ever been really poor would recommend the experience!) Notice, it is spiritual poverty Jesus speaks about here. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Poverty of spirit grows only in a humble heart. The “kingdom of heaven”—gospel shorthand for the blessing of God’s presence and rule over our lives and world—can be experienced only if we have learned to see ourselves honestly, as God sees us. We need to recognize that we have nothing to offer God except our desperate need of him. “Nothing in my hands I bring,” goes the old hymn, “simply to thy cross I cling.”

Do you know how to sing that tune? The only way to receive God is to humble yourself, to empty your hands of the qualities and accomplishments (including the religious ones) that make you feel deserving of God’s favor, and then turn to him and ask for mercy. Sort of like a tax collector we know. —David Bast

Prayer: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”