The Kingdom Is Theirs
Open Your Bible
Matthew 5:1-16, Psalm 69:29-33, Isaiah 49:6, Mark 10:32-45, Colossians 4:2-6
The upside-down nature of the kingdom reframes our understanding of human struggles.
Search “#blessed” on social media and you’ll find countless photos of tropical vacations, elaborate meals, and designer clothes. Apparently, success, health, and material wealth are the things our western world has declared a blessing.
Yet, Jesus had an entirely different definition for the word “blessing.” Early in Christ’s ministry at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave His disciples a glimpse of the upside-down nature of His Father’s kingdom, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:3). He went on to say that those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and those who are persecuted because of righteousness are the truly blessed (vv.4,6,10).
Even as Christ’s followers, we might be scratching our heads wondering how poverty, sadness, and suffering can be anything but bad. But God often takes what the world sees as “bad” and declares it “blessed.” But what could be so good—so #blessed—about being “poor in spirit”?
To be “poor in spirit” does not mean to be financially impoverished, but as the great evangelist Billy Graham said, think of it as being “humble” in spirit. We must have the humility to recognize that we are nothing without God. The proud cannot admit that they need God, and so they cannot take the steps of repentance and belief. This is why only the “poor in spirit” will inherit the kingdom of God. Only the humble can acknowledge their spiritual lack and profess a life-saving faith in Jesus.
I’m guessing we’d all love to be heirs to the kingdom of God, but how do we become “poor in spirit”? Look at the example of James and John, two beloved disciples of Christ who struggled with pride. They wanted to be the greatest of Jesus’s followers and sit next to Him in heaven. They even had the audacity to ask Him for exactly that, through their mother, that is (Matthew 20:20–21). Christ’s question to James and John in return can be asked of us too: “Are you able to drink the cup I drink?” (v.22).
We know that “the cup” Jesus referred to came with a cost. The Father called His own Son to a painful death, before raising Him up again into the forever kingdom. If we want to be resurrected with Jesus, we must first be crucified with Him.
As citizens of God’s kingdom, we can see through the lies of this world. Superficial comforts are not signs of the Lord’s blessing, and a lack of wealth and health are not signs of God’s judgment. Rather, the one who grows in humility and hunger for God, often through trials, is the one who is truly blessed.