In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins to teach His disciples, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Here, Jesus Christ turns the world upside down or rather, the right side up! Christians are poor in spirit and yet they are blessed! They are happy and fortunate! It is even good to be a mourner! However, Jesus isn’t here referring to physical poverty or mourning the loss of loved ones. Instead, He is describing attitudes that define His followers.
Poverty of spirit is a description of the humility with which we relate to God and others. If we live our lives as if we do God the favours; if we think we have something that God didn’t give us in the first place, then we cut ourselves off from God’s blessing. Pride gets in the way.
Followers of Jesus recognise that they are the needy receivers, God is the great giver. To be poor in spirit, means that we are not too proud to live our lives depending on God; not too proud to ask the questions and follow advice. In learning to depend on God we then learn to be dependable for others.
There’s the story of the little girl who pointed & said, “That horse, it must be a Christian, it’s got such a long face!” Hopefully that’s a false stereotype or one to be disproved. Notice that Jesus tells us that it is the mourner that is blessed, not the moaner!
Christians are to be persistent mourners and blessed with it! There’s a part of us that mourns every time we let God and others down. Christians are those who honestly confess their sins to God; it hurts them to disappoint the Lord.
Christians are to be serious people. We believe that Jesus died to save us from our own sins; we see the pain and hurt of others. We see consequences of greed and hatred in families, communities and nations. The follower of Jesus can’t fail to be sad and want to respond. Jesus taught His followers to be realists.
The paradox is that Jesus calls us to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, weakness and neediness; He leads us to be the saddest people about sin and its consequences, and yet we are most fortunate with real reasons for greatest joy!
How does anyone become a Christian in the first place? You come to recognise yourself as a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. You realise that Jesus died to save you. You reach out for His love and mercy. God forgives and welcomes you into His family. Now in relationship with the risen Jesus, you humbly follow Him. You are poor in spirit and daily mourning over sin and yet, joyfully possessing the Kingdom of God and revelling in the love of God. You have peace with God, the assurance of forgiveness and a sad-free Heaven ahead!