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3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ---NIV New International Version
3You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. ---MSG The Message Bible
3God blesses those who realize their need for him,for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. ---NLT New Living Translation
3God blesses those people who depend only on him. ---CEV Contemporary English Version
3Happy the poor in spirit -- because theirs is the reign of the heavens. ---YLT Young's Literal Translation
3Blessed are those who are spiritually needy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. ---NIRV New International Readers Version
3God makes happy those who know that they need him. The kingdom of heaven is for them. ---WE Worldwide English (New Testament)
How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs! ---J. B. Phillips Translation
3Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation,regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! ---AMP The Amplified Bible [Underlining added for clarity and to distinguish between actual verse and the amplification.]
3 O the bliss of those who realize the destitution of their own lives, for the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven are theirs here and now. ---Translation by William Barclay
3Blessed are those who feel poor in spiritual things, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. ---Translation by Charles B. Williams
People who do not hold tightly to things are happy because all of God's kingdom is theirs. ---Source not known to me
Cheer up, you depressed, for the kingdom of heaven is yours. What more could you want? Things may be rough now, but hang in there; the future I have planned for you will be glorious! ---Sylvia Klauss
The poor in spirit know they need God.--That's the conclusion I come to from reading the various translations and paraphrases of this verse. Another attribute of the poor in spirit is humility. Ben Franklin had a list of 12 virtues. When someone pointed out to him that his list did not include humility, Ben added it as #13 at the end of his list. Jesus put humility at the beginning, as though it's the first step in our life with God.
Here's a word picture showing someone poor in spirit contrasted to another person who wasn't: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice every week and give a tenth of all I get.'
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.''' (Luke 18:10-13, NIV)
Another picture from the heart of Jesus is the familiar story in Luke 15, about the prodigal son and the waiting father. When the prodigal returned home hungry and in rags, he confessed, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."
There are many ways to search out the meaning of Jesus' teaching. We could discuss the concepts of spiritual poverty, destitution and dependency. We can look up definitions in the dictionary. Poor in spirit--It's probably easier to say what it isn't, than what it is. And we are told that as soon as we think we are, or have been, humble--beware; pride just replaced it! So what are we to do with this beatitude? What is this gem, this cornerstone of God's kingdom, which we need but cannot claim?
A few people down through the ages have relinquished all possessions in order to be literally poor and serve God without the distractions of ownership. While we admit that we do get possessed by our possessions and spend much time acquiring and maintaining those things we own, most of us do not believe that God wants us to live such an extreme lifestyle. Yet within our daily lives, Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." And we need to learn what this means and what is the change that must take place in our own lives.
While on the subject of literal poverty, we must not ascribe traits to the poor that are not real. Most of the world's poor are neither happy nor content. Many are bitter, angry, and without hope. Some of the poor only a mother could love (mother as in Mother Teresa). The poor are not to be envied, nor glamorized.
Yet there is something about poverty that Jesus is holding up to us. No matter how much we squirm, object, or rebel against it, the first step toward God's kingdom is the attitude of being poor within our spirit. What is the characteristic of poverty that opens one to being blest? Unencumbered by material things, free of the excess baggage that requires our attention and robs us of . . . what? . . . our dependency on God?! The kingdom of heaven is there if we go straight toward it with open, empty hands. But if we come clutching many things, we may get distracted and not find it. God's gifts must not replace our need for God!
What do I need God for? Did you ever ask yourself that question? Here is how one person answered that question:
Many people think Saint Paul has had a greater influence on the Christian Church, past and present, than any other person. Yet he called himself the least of the apostles. In 1st Corinthians 15, while he was laying out his belief in the resurrection, Paul got personal. He described how Jesus was seen in his resurrected body by Peter, and the Twelve. After that Jesus appeared to more that 500 people, then to James and all the apostles. And then, "last of all, Jesus appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am. . . ." (I Cor. l5:8-10 NIV) Paul knew himself too well, and there was no room for pride.
By the grace of God! How we need that grace. I was in a Sunday School class last weekend; the topic was the gifts of the Spirit. The question came up--"What if we don't use our gifts?" A spontaneous answer came at once--"Then we miss out." We miss out on the joys and blessings that come from using our gifts. Someone added, "We miss the bus." Then grace entered the discussion because God's mercies are fresh each day. The bus will come again in the morning and we are given another chance to use our gifts. The bus also comes every evening and throughout the day. God is familiar with our failures, and our good intentions never acted upon. God knows our fears, our moods which depress, our excuses. But the bus of God's grace keeps coming with the invitation to board and enter with faith into the kingdom of heaven.
From my sister I learn that, "the Greek word used in Matt. 5 for blessed is makarios. The karios part comes from the word kairo which means rejoice. So the first part of verse 3 would literally read, 'Joyful the poor in spirit.' There is no verb; the translators put "are" in there. You could just as well say 'Be joyful the poor in spirit. . .'" Be joyful; God's grace is available in abundance.
What is spiritual poverty? Try to picture in your mind a bag lady or vent man in the streets of your nearest big city. Then imagine that you are dressed in similar form. How does it feel to be dressed in dirty clothes and needing a shower? Bring yourself into God's presence now, dressed in your beggar's clothes, and ask God to give you what you need. Run that scene through your mind for awhile. What do you see in yourself? In God? What words do you hear from your mouth? From God? Are there any onlookers? If so, what is their reaction? Now imagine that you are surprised by an atmosphere of great joy. God is smiling broadly. You hear happy music. God offers you the gift of all that you will ever need, forever. Pause in your thinking to consider what God wants to give you. How did you respond to God? Did you accept the gift? As you make your decision, you hear the words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." As you leave the realm of your imagination and your encounter with God has ended, do you look or feel any differently?
Whenever you look into the eyes of any poor person, let them bless your life by reminding you that the first step in knowing God is to become poor in spirit. The poor in spirit depend totally on God. As in Psalms 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" nor be forsaken.
Therefore rejoice! Be joyful; the grace of God is available in abundance. The grace of God is for you.