Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The word “beatitude” comes from the Latin word beatitudo, which means “happy” or “blessed.” The list of paradoxes is a list of who we are in Christ as God’s children. Let’s read 2 Kings 4:1-7:
Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbours, even empty vessels; do not get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full.” So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing the vessels to her and she poured. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not one vessel more.” And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”
This is a famous miracle in the Old Testament, but the vessels are also indicative of the human condition. Before we know Christ, we are empty vessels—empty jars of clay. We have this emptiness inside us and thus have constant need to fill it. We ask ourselves, “What is missing in my life?” We are missing Jesus and what He gives. Only Jesus can fill us. We seek ways of salvation and redemption outside of Christ, but only He can give it to us. God fills us, uses us, and restores us.
People often misinterpret “poor in spirit” as meaning material poverty, but that is not at all what Jesus is talking about. As Christians, to be “poor in spirit” is to have a sense of humility. Sure, the poor may be poor in spirit, but being poor in spirit does not require that one be poor. We are poor in spirit because we lack the ability to save ourselves—we acknowledge our spiritual bankruptcy without God. Those who think they don’t need the salvation of Christ and thus think they’re rich in spirit (which is conceit) do not inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Believers are poor in spirit because we humble ourselves before the Lord, saying, “I am empty. Without You, I am nothing. Save me, use me, restore me.” Thus the promised kingdom of Heaven is ours because only the poor in spirit recognise that without God, they are spiritually bankrupt and are in need of salvation. And so Christ pays the ransom for our bankruptcy (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Timothy 2:6).