Matthew 5:3-11 I am blessed !
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus lays down the steps towards a happy and blessed life. Today’s devotion is the first in the series: “I am blessed!” Today, we learn that the inner condition of a man’s spirit will determine his life’s direction and external circumstances. As Christ has through His poverty on the cross regenerated our spirit in making us rich, I will henceforth declare, “I am blessed!” And I will prevail and succeed regardless of my circumstances.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed” (makarios in Greek) describes a life that is set for happiness and good fortune. Here, Jesus is not saying that those who are poor in spirit are the blessed ones. On the contrary, Jesus declares that those who are poor in spirit will be blessed if they listen and follow His teachings. Jesus’s teachings address the deprivation of one’s spirit by imbuing it with truths that can make rich in the kingdom of heaven. The poor in spirit refers to those who are oppressed, being bound to the yoke of slavery all their lives. Thus, many become slaves to money, power, addictions and various kinds of sensuality. Such relentlessly indulge themselves with little concern for others (see Luke 12:21). Having said, no amount of earthly riches and pleasures can alleviate the emptiness of one who is poor in spirit. But those who meditate on the truth and do them become rich towards God.
What does this “blessedness” entail? – everything (both material and immaterial) that is found in the kingdom of heaven (for theirs is the kingdom of heaven). Faithful friends, health and wisdom for instance are immaterial blessings that money cannot buy. Jesus says that the kingdom of God manifests itself on earth beginning with the regeneration of the heart and the destruction of the devil’s strongholds (see Luke 11:20). Put in a nutshell, being “blessed” is to be released from curses and the bondage of darkness towards the freedom in the kingdom of light. One who is poor in spirit is in no uncertain terms imprisoned in the kingdom of darkness being subject to the curses of poverty, sickness and sin. But one who is resident in the kingdom of God has no material lack, and lives a life of fullness and freedom.
Blessedness begins from within, a spirit birth out of Christ.
When a person repents and walks in the truth of Christ, God regenerates his spirit and adopts him into His kingdom. As a member of God’s kingdom, he suffers no lack, no plague will come near him and he will succeed in all his endeavours. God guides his footsteps and keeps him from temptations that he cannot bear so that he may not stumble on his way to eternal life (see Psalms 37:23). He is also entrusted with the authority over angels in order to help establish God’s kingdom. There is a world of difference between the way God treats those who are in His kingdom and those who are not.
How does one know if one is a member of God’s kingdom? While a person’s appearance, his religious affiliation or his status in the society are not worthy indications, but by his works and the posture of his heart, he will be vindicated. Jesus explains that the coming of God’s kingdom into a person’s life cannot be observed through external circumstances.
Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21
The presence of God’s kingdom is evident by an inner change of heart towards Christ-likeness (the kingdom of God is within you). A member of God’s kingdom will live and serve others like Jesus does and he puts the interests of others before his own. Before Jesus goes to the cross, He shows His disciples how to live the blessed life. Before they eat their last supper, He washes each disciple’s feet. And having done so, Jesus explains His actions,
You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:13-17
Indeed, a life of selfless service towards others brings unprecedented blessings. In essence, Jesus is showing His disciples of how one can be rich towards God. To be rich in spirit is to be filled with the virtues of Christ: of love, peace, joy, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, patience, humility and self-discipline (see Galatians 5:22-23). However, many churchgoers suppose by their weekly attendance in church service are initiated into God’s kingdom. They are encouraged to celebrate the kingdom’s blessings while remaining self-centered and fleshly in their inclinations. Such appear to worship God but they love the things of the world more than the things of God. They have little interest in God’s word and cannot influence their children to read the word for themselves. Such may attain a certain level of success in the eyes of the world but produce a discontented and apathetic generation; they are rich in material but poor in spirit. Such will be in for a surprise on the day when Jesus returns as Judge.
But for the righteous, God secures them in His kingdom where agents of darkness cannot enter to steal or to destroy. He predestines them to the right place and at the right time so that they may be blessed. And their righteousness and riches will endure throughout future generations. The psalmist writes concerning the prosperity of the righteous,
Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Psalms 112:1-3
One who is blessed is freed from the fear of lack to live dignified lives.
One who is walking in obedience to God’s commands while trusting in His promises will not be deprived in his spirit by the lack of wealth or be corrupted by power or riches. One who is blessed may or may not be considered wealthy and influential by the world’s standards. For the dignity and glory of the righteous is not founded on material possessions but on their identity as the anointed sons of God. The poor in spirit on the other hand, live like paupers no matter how wealthy they may be.
Nevertheless, the bible promises financial sufficiency for the righteous (see Proverbs 10:3, Matthew 6:33). The bible does not say that the righteous are always wealthy, but it does consistently advocates victory regardless of lack or abundance. A victorious and righteous spirit is the prove of blessedness, not material wealth. The apostle Paul says concerning his resilience and resolve to do all things regardless of his financial circumstances,
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13
Therefore, the believer’s blessedness and happiness must not be subject to the economy, to his bank account or how the world measures him. We can live happy, fruitful and dignified lives regardless of our financial circumstance. The apostle Paul speaks of the fact that Christ’s death has an irreversible effect of making believers rich,
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
Therefore, the righteous must carry themselves with a royal dignity, a righteousness that is not founded on earthly wealth. Having said, as believers are proven faithful even with little resources, God in His time will entrust them with greater resources for His kingdom’s work.
Do you constantly live in the fear of poverty and lack? Even though you have consistently prayed to God concerning your financial situation but you see little progress. Perhaps, it is not the issue of not working hard or praying enough, but the lack of sincere repentance. If you have not released the control of your life entirely to God, do so now. If you harbour soulish ambitions, release them and submit yourself to God’s plans. In so doing, you enter His kingdom and be released from the curse of poverty.
Dear Lord, by faith I declare that I am blessed forever. Christ’s work on the cross has regenerated my spirit and broken the curse of poverty. I place my complete trust in your promises that I will never be in lack. I release my worries and my soulish ambitions into your hands. I open my heart to understand your plans for me and to fulfil it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.