“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3)
A lot of people in America today are feeling poor in Spirit because of the election results. They did not get what they wanted and feel hurt, vulnerable and afraid. They are lashing out or in mourning. Jesus speak about these things in the Beatitudes, but what He means by these words is of much greater importance than the results of a national election. The words of Jesusconcern our relationship with God, our relationship to the world around us, and to our eternal destiny.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit? This does not refer to material poverty, the lack of resources, poltical power, money or material goods. The blessings of the Kingdom are not primarily those of economic advantage. That may come, but it is not the intent of God’s Kingdom to make us powerful, financially rich, or material prosperous, but content with what we have been given.
To be poor in spirit is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, that we have nothing to offer God. We are sinners who are spiritually bankrupt deserving only God’s wrath and judgment. This is repentance. Only those who repent, who recognize and admit their spiritual poverty get the blessing of citizenship in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is not a blessing for the wealthy, the winners, the successful, the movers and shakers, the self-sufficient, the powerful or the popular. Such rarely admit they are sinners or that they need help from God. The kingdom is a blessing given to the feeble, the weak, the humble, the losers, the inept and the rejects of society all who know they have nothing to offer God, who know they can achieve nothing of value or worth. All they can do is cry to God for help and mercy. And He is there ready to welcome and comfort them.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Taken out of context, this beatitude is often considered to be the mourning associated with death, the loss of a loved one or the loss of a dream. As far as it goes that may be fine. We must comfort those who grieve such loss, but it does not fit the meaning within the passage as Jesus intended it. The mourning here is of our lack of righteousness, our sorrow over sin and our inability to overcome it. This mourning is the sorrow of repentance. I was wrong and I am unhappy and wretched because of it. Yes, it is one thing to admit to spiritual poverty but it is another to mourn and be sorry for it, not because we got caught and are afraid of punishment, but because it is evil, it is hurtful to us and God because it disrupts our relationship and fellowship with Him. Those who lament and grieve over their own sinfulness will be comforted by the only consolation which can relieve this distress: the free forgiveness of God.
In addition, this mourning involves weeping over the evil in the world, the sins of others, and the reality of judgment and death. Ezekiel the prophet heard the faithful remnant of God described as “those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in Jerusalem.” So godly mourning involves weeping for those who sin and those who refuse to accept the grace of God found in Jesus alone. We must not get angry with them or despise them but weep and cry for them for their end is going to be far worse than the sorrows of this present life. Our sorrow should compel us to present them with the gospel of mercy and love found only in Jesus Christ.