What did Jesus mean when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3)? And what about when Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)? It is certainly worth some thought, since Jesus said these people would inherit the kingdom of heaven and the earth!
These two scriptures come from the Beatitudes, which were the first part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is contained in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 5-7. Since the referenced scriptures come at the very beginning of this famous sermon, they must be important. I have heard preaching that talks about being “poor in spirit” along with “humility”. They are closely related (see the prior post, Jesus Said Be Humble). For The Jesus Said Project, we will look at “poor in spirit” and “meekness” together.
Poor in Spirit
It is challenging to examine this topic because the term “poor in spirit” can be taken a number of ways. For The Jesus Said Project, we will define it as someone who recognizes their spiritual poverty, their complete need for God, who, with a lowly and meek attitude, leans on God for everything: strength, support, daily needs, and answers.
The dictionary defines meek as “humbly patient or docile”, “overly submissive or compliant”, “spiritless”, “tame”. The dictionary also says that “meek” is an obsolete term for “gentle” and “kind”. Well, gentleness and kindness may be obsolete in terms of how the words are currently used, but they are always in style with God! Gentleness and kindness are two of the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. As such, it seems logical that Jesus was using terms and phrases that included these related character traits.
Does it surprise you that some of the current definitions for the term “meek” are a little derogatory or negative? I am referring to the definitions “overly submissive or compliant” and “spiritless” when I ask that question. Most people would not be flattered to be described in those terms. However, Jesus used these terms in the most flattering manner, when He described people who would inherit heaven and inherit the earth! This is another example of how God’s ways are not man’s ways (see Isaiah 55:8). We are too often concerned about the latter rather than the former.
Father God, I open my mind and my heart to You, to Your thoughts and Your ways, and ask You to make them mine, too. Give me a meek spirit that relies on You for all, because You are all. I agree with your son, Jesus, when He said that, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Change my personality and anything else in me that does not acknowledge this truth. Give me a meek and lowly spirit because it is prized, not by the world, but by You! I want to be all that You want me to be. I ask this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.