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The real secret - being poor in spirit

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Is saying, “I’d be more than happy" just exaggerating? No, it turns out the popular saying contains a great deal of truth. We can be more than happy. What is more than happy? Being blessed is more than happy. After Jesus gave the beatitudes during his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-12), it was written down in Greek using a word that is usually translated as blessed in English. However, it has also been translated as happy at times. A discussion among translators has been whether happy or blessed is a more accurate translation. Most translators seem to have come to the same conclusion, that happiness can be fleeting, but blessedness remains. The beatitudes are not keys to a fleeting emotion, but a core inner condition. So, the word blessed was chosen, because yes, we can be more than happy.

What does “poor in spirit” really mean in Matthew 5:1-12? Poor can mean dispossessed and abandoned. A poor person has a deep sense that the world has failed them. Can a wealthy person be poor in spirit? That depends. Wealth is a deceiver. It makes us think that we are a big person, as opposed the the less fortunate who are viewed as "little people." It can deceive us into thinking that the world has provided for us. In reality, the world has failed all of us. So, Jesus did not say “poor in possessions” but “poor in spirit.” The description is independent of this material world. The people of God rely on God not this world’s solutions. They boldly face the truth of our abject spiritual poverty. They are blessed people, because heaven rules them not this world.

In modern English, when someone is discouraged, we sometimes say they are in poor spirits. That is not what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:1-12when he said blessed are the poor in spirit. The word poor here means someone so destitute that they don’t even have food. How can that be blessed? To understand, let’s take the opposite extreme, someone who believes they are spiritually filled and in need of no more. This is the attitude that some folks have. They are obnoxious, self-satisfied, shallow and unpleasant to be around. They may constantly judge us as inferior and compare us with their so-called higher level of spirituality. They are in fact deluded by spiritual fools gold. Being poor in spirit is simply facing up to the facts. We are all desperately poor and in need of God’s merciful provision.

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