Blessed are the Poor in Spirit (Matthew 5:3)

This is just a short post, mostly to see what “linking” my blog to my facebook account actually did.  I’m hoping that when I publish things here, they’ll now show up in facebook, but we’ll see…


Anyhow, this morning, stirred on by Mike Bickle’s words at the OneThing conference about the importance in knowing the beatitudes, I turned to Matthew 5.  If Jesus calls a certain behavior “blessed,” I wanna know what he said and find out how I can get in on the blessing.  So I started this morning with the first one, in Matthew 5:3, the “poor in spirit.”

My thoughts about the topic are certainly not complete at this point, and I’ll try to put more up here later.  But I found out something interesting right away.

In the Greek, the word “poor” is not an adjective.  You’re probably saying either, “So…  Who the heck would care about that?  What in the world even is an adjective, anyhow?” or “Duh!  It’s not an adjective in the English, either.  Everybody knows that.”

To you who puzzle over my discovery, hear me out for a bit.

The word is πτωχος, pronounced something like ptochos, and it was a common word used to refer to a beggar.  In all fairness, it was also used adjectivally to talk about being “poor in” something or “impoverished,” but in Matthew 5:3, it’s not an adjective.  At best, it’s a noun being used adjectivally, but it’s clearly a noun.

Why does this matter?

Well, let’s look at the phrase “poor in spirit” from Matthew 5:3.

If “poor” was an adjective… then the word would describe the state of being of a man’s spirit.  Jesus would be, in effect, saying, “The man who is poor, sick, depraved, lacking, without, the one who’s got nothing going for him, the one whose spirit is impoverished…  Well, he’s blessed.”

So if that’s you, God forbid you try to build up your spirit, become something, get encouraged, make a difference, get a richness in your walk, overcome sin, read your Bible.  ‘Cause then you’re gonna lose the blessing.  So then you comfort yourself with Jesus’ words and try to make yourself believe you like the filth anyhow and weren’t ever really designed for more anyhow.  You sit in it and you get used to it.

But “poor” is a noun… in Matthew 5:3, so it describes the type of being whom the man’s spirit resembles.  This is different.  It is not describing what the man is but rather what he looks like, acts like, thinks like, smells like, dreams like.  Jesus is saying, “The man whose spirit resembles a beggar, who does what a beggar does, that one is blessed.”

So, what does a beggar do?  A beggar cries out for even a scrap of food to eat.  A beggar waits and waits and waits for his chance at a miracle that’ll turn his life around.  A beggar cries at the top of his voice, to the embarrassment of his family and friends, just to get the attention of Jesus.

A beggar… begs.

A beggar, you see, wants to change, and he wants to change badly.  He’s not content to live in poverty.  He dreams of riches, and every man who walks by who seems to have a bit of it he latches onto.  He cries to them, “Have mercy on me!”  He screams at them.  He jealously desires what they have.  And when they walk by, he follows after them ’cause they have what he wants.

Oh, that we the church would awaken, see our poverty, and like a beggar cry to the King for our share of the pot.

Revelation 3:17 – 18 seems an appropriate reference to end with:  “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”


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