Today at church I was surprised by something so simple. I have never understood the verse of the sermon on the mount that says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:1). “How can I not” you say, “It’s as plain as the nose on your face”.
Poor in Spirit Is Not Humility
It may seem so to you but you see I’ve never accepted the common explanation that it refers to those that are humble. Because I don’t accept the common view of humility.
The common view states that the humble are those that are self-effacing and with very low self-esteem. The problem I have with this is that Jesus was called humble and he was a long way from self-effacing. He had no problem with low self-esteem. Quite the opposite. This is a guy who confronted unrighteousness head-on and not too quietly at that. The rope in the temple comes to mind (Mk 11:15).
No! Every verse in scripture that talks about humility talks about it in the context of someone who obeyed the Lord God. Jesus may have been meek but he was not weak. The scripture declares him to be humble and here’s a contradiction, He declares Himself to be humble (Mt 11:29).
True humility is not self-effacing it is a willingness to be obedient.
Don’t get me wrong we are called to love one another (Jn.13:34f). But the love the bible talks about is not self-love. Just as poor self-esteem is not humility. We should stop putting it on that pedestal.
Besides, unless we are saying that Jesus felt it necessary to repeat himself in the same message, “Blessed are the humble (meek)” does not mean the same as “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.
At The End of Their Rope
Our speaker at church today had a much better interpretation of this particular beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. He said that he read a translation that said “Blessed are they that are at the end of their rope”. That is certainly something different from low self-esteem.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit” is a reference to Ps. 34:18.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV).
This just makes so much sense. It fits with the whole of the rest of the beatitudes.
Yet again God declares that He will lift us when we can’t!!