“And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5: 2,3).
I’m happy to know that Jesus began His introductory discourse for His ministry with subject of the poor in spirit. Obviously, He was one to uplift and encourage the downtrodden. “A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” (Is. 42:3). “Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation: and Thy right hand hath holden me up, and Thy gentleness hath made me great.” (Ps. 18:35).
Delicate beyond measure, He worked tirelessly to comfort all who were oppressed by Satan. “The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned.” (Is. 50:4). “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Is. 61:1,2) NIV.
How can the Lord possibly run a kingdom of people who are poor in spirit? What great things can He ever accomplish with the weak and heavy laden? What can you do with those who are poor in spirit? These are questions Satan loves to argue. “Let Him gather them around Him! They will get Him nowhere! Ha!” The devil is the one spoken of, “How hath the oppressor ceased!... The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger....” (Is. 14:4-6).
Satan, the adversary, is the one described by Daniel as a voracious, ravenous beast. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” (Dan. 7:7). “The accuser of our brethren…, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev. 12:10).
This perfectly describes the old dragon, Satan, although Daniel’s dream spoke of an organization that models Satan’s personality extremely well. The dream speaks of his organized group of people who love to tear down and not build up. It is their purpose to destroy and discredit. They are miserable because of service to Satan, and they become his medium to make all around them servants of Satan and equally miserable as themselves.
The seven sins that God hates are found in this kind of people. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:16-19).
Their worst enemies are those who don’t want to live like the rest of the world, and the devil inspires his followers to make these peculiar people the subject of their fiercest attacks, and these servants of sin involve as many around them as possible to make Christ’s children the object of the world’s hatred, with Satan at the helm. Often, new, inexperienced babes in Christ are not yet learned in the full wrath of the devil and they know not the art of war he trains his followers so deftly to use. They are ignorant of his devices and machinations. The new creature in Jesus struggles under a heavy weight of criticism, suspicion, and alienation from human companionship.
The burden of the poor in spirit also comes from consequences to sin or of mistakes foolishly made or of wrong choices that have apparently permanent results. Feeling lost and alone from God saps their life and hope.
“There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world’s standard. They have chosen its service, accepted its perplexities, adopted its customs. Thus their character is marred, and their life made a weariness. In order to gratify ambition and worldly desires, they wound the conscience, and bring upon themselves an additional burden of remorse. The continual worry is wearing out the life forces. Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. He invites them to accept His yoke; He says, ‘My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’ He bids them seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and His promise is that all things needful to them for this life shall be added.” Desire of Ages
, p. 330.
Jesus invited the lost and forlorn into His house. “Theirs is
the kingdom of heaven!” He proclaimed. Not to the well-established in the synagogue, or to the well off in life; not to the talented and intellectual, not the beautifully complexioned or adorned or dressed did Christ make the first thought in His sermon on the mount. Rather, He reached out to those who apparently had none of these. Really, they had it all, but everything lay buried in self-reproach. He would uncover their beauty and dust it off, and allow their true luster, made in God’s image, to shine forth.
“Many who have been overcome by temptation are humiliated by their failures, and they feel that it is in vain for them to approach unto God; but this thought is of the enemy’s suggestion.” Ministry of Healing
, p. 181.
When many who came to Him had sinned, and felt that they could not pray, Jesus told them that it was then the time to pray
. Ashamed they may have been, and deeply humbled; but as they confessed their sins, He told them that God was faithful and just to forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness.
He let them know that nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly on the merits of the Saviour. By prayer, by the study of His word, by faith in His abiding presence, the weakest of human beings could live in contact with the living God, and He would hold them by a hand that would never let go.
“Angels of glory that do always behold the face of the Father in heaven, joy in ministering to His little ones. Angels are ever present where they are most needed, with those who have the hardest battles with self to fight, and whose surroundings are the most discouraging. Weak and trembling souls who have many objectionable traits of character are their special charge.” Ministry of Healing
, p. 105.
What can the Master do with the poor in spirit? “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” (Is. 66:1,2).
He will clean us up and make us a fit habitation for Him to dwell in and for Him to find in us His place of rest. He wants to rest in us, but He cannot rest until we rest. When we finally trust in Him and lose our tense focus on this world, then He can finally relax in the assurance that we are responding to His wooing.
“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.” (Lk. 1:52,53). “They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels.” (Mal 3:17).
“Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments.
“His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
“Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
“A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
“Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.
“His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.
“He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.
“The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.” Ps. 112.