Jesus gave the Beatitudes, Matthew 5.1-12, as part of The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.
“Blessed” means to make a connection between our life circumstances and God’s grace and goodness. When life is good, peaceful, when we are filled with hope, joy, and positive energy, we are blessed because we give God credit for our happiness. On the other hand, when life brings fear, sorrow, pain, and tragedy, we can be blessed by standing upon our faith in God’s goodness and ultimate victory.
We all know what “poor” means. Going without food, shelter, clothing, or medical attention. Having little or no chance to get an education, or enjoy the benefits that most people take for granted. Having no influence, power, or prestige. Being looked upon with suspicion and ignored. Downtrodden, oppressed, exploited. Christianity does NOT consider poverty to be a virtue or a blessing! Not hardly! Our faith seeks to alleviate the suffering and remove the root causes.
“Poor in spirit” is not the same as being just plain poor. It refers to those who trust in God and look to God with hope under any and all circumstances. They are honest and true. They are not full of themselves. They understand that while money is an asset, it cannot buy the most important things in life. They love God and rejoice that God loves them.
But perhaps “poor in spirit” refers to people who are spiritually impoverished. Their life has no spiritual dimension. Their outlook may be summarized as if they were to say, “What you see is what you get; what you see is all you get. Whoever dies with the most toys wins.” People who live by these values can be arrogant when times are good; they feel that because they are so smart, hard-working, and tough, that the world owes them money and success. On the other hand when things go against them they are bitter and filled with self-pity. The good news for them is that Jesus came to bless, not to blame. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3.17