“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”
- blessed – in Jesus’ time, it was common to describe a wealthy person as “blessed”. Today, the word has primarily religious implications that weren’t there 2000 years ago. So, without wanting to remove the poetry of what’s being said, it’s best to say “wealthy” instead.
- poor in spirit – the words “in spirit” are actually only included in one of the two accounts of these teachings4. The phrase does not mean lacking in spirit – whatever you might understand that to mean – but instead implies a poverty that is both physical and spiritual. This could be because the two have often, throughout history, been intertwined – and could well have been added later.
- kingdom of Heaven – the people of Jesus’ time wouldn’t have ever used the name of God (Yahweh) out of respect for it. Thus, this is a euphemism for “Kingdom of God”, which is in itself an expression that essentially means “the domain in which things are the way that Yahweh wants them to be”. Similar to the idea of Jesus “way” (his teachings).
“Wealthy are those who are poor, for they belong to the way of God”.
“Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort”.
The Good News
Jesus often talked about bringing good news to people5. Often, he said he had come to bring “good news to the poor”. What’s the good news here? It is that you don’t have to be rich to feel a richness, a wealth, a blessedness, to life. Instead, seek to be part of the way of God, and you’ll find that life takes you on a poorer, but richer, path. In a song written by King David6, he says:
“God is gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger, and rich in love.”
- The next time you find yourself longing for a higher paycheque that you don’t really need, take some time to meditate on the richness that is found elsewhere.
- Instead of doing more work, consider using your time to help others, trying to learn what it means to be rich in love.
- If you’re struggling financially, remember that though the world might judge you a failure for this, God does not.