“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” we read from Matthew 5:3. It is the first of the Beatitudes declared by the Messiah on the so-called “Sermon on the Mount”. I’m sure we’re all familiar with “The Beatitudes” for there are two passages in the Scriptures regarding it. The other in the book of Luke:
“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
‘Blessed are the beggars, for yours is the kingdom of Elohim.’”
The Beatitudes is a list of “blessed are the/happy are ye… for” exclusively for believers in Yahweh (in the redemptive work of the Messiah). For this blog, I’d like to concentrate on the first one—the one that speaks of those who are poor in spirit.
Poor in spirit… Almost all English translations used the word “poor”. But did you know what a poor translation that is for this passage? The actual Greek word used in these passages is much stronger. Fact is the word used was not pén?s (2 Corinthians 9:9), which is the rightful equivalent Greek word for “poor” or “needy” in English (Fil. “mahirap” or “dukha”); rather Matthew and Luke used the word pt?chós.
There is a difference between the two. Using pén?s may indicate someone who doesn’t have much, someone who is in “abject poverty”—“isang kahig isang tuka” kung baga ba. The point is he still makes a living by himself: he works, earns something, and deserves it.
But what about pt?chós? Translated to Filipino, pt?chós is someone who has “walang-wala” or is a “pulubi”. Having little possessions is not enough to describe such situation. While pén?s indicates those who have no wealth (but technically still have at least something), the pt?chós alas! have NOTHING!
I like how the International Standard Version translated Luke 6:20, “How blessed are you who are destitute…”; and for Filipino Ang Salita ni Yahweh: “Pinagpala kayong mga walang-wala, sapagkat sa inyo ang kaharian ng Dakilahat.”
Now we see how this verse pertains to someone who utterly lacks things—someone completely impoverished., destitute, devoid of necessities in life. Like Lazarus, the beggar at the gate (Luke 16:20), he begs to exist.
But Yahshua (Jesus) also speaks metaphorically here. He is teaching that one who is conscious or aware of his or her spiritual destitution and acknowledges his nothingness before Yahweh is blessed. How so, you may ask? Well, while not all of us are literal tramps, all of us are spiritual beggars. Comprehending one’s being spiritually destitute means to be humble; it is to understand that all our blessings, especially life, comes from the grace of Yahweh. If you are genuinely humble, you are blessed—you are happy.
Unfortunately, these isn’t always the case: sometimes we may be confident with what we have, the abilities we can do that we think we don’t need Him. This is arrogance, and pride—which lusts for superiority of other human beings and independence of one’s Creator—will only lead to misery.
Humility is the exact opposite of that. When we are humble, we accept our mistakes in life, our brokenness and emptiness, thus we repent and we are brought to His will. There will be for us provided peace within our souls.
The message of the Beatitudes is to give us a life of utmost bliss, supreme blessedness, paramount happiness—whatever you may choose to call it; and humility, or acknowledging one’s spiritual destitution is the first step towards it (spiritual maturity).
We know we are spiritual beggars, and this is happy news: because like Lazarus, who now stands beside Abraham in paradise, this acknowledgment brings us comfort and certainty that ours is the kingdom of heaven.