It is no accident that Jesus begins His public ministry by stating the Beatitudes (as found in Matthew Chapter 5:1-13).  And it’s not an accident that he begins that “stating” by giving us the Foundation for all of His teachings and all of Christian thinking.   “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The word that Jesus uses for “poor” here, in the Greek is “ptoochos”, which means “extreme poverty”, the worst kind of poverty, literally a ‘BEGGAR’.  A (genuine) beggar is a person who depends totally on others for his life’s sustenance, because, for some reason or some physical ailment, he can “DO NOTHING FOR HIMSELF”.  The blessing here is NOT promised for physical poverty, but for SPIRITUAL POVERTY, and what’s meant here is that THE FIRST STEP TOWARD BLESSSEDNESS (‘MAKARIOS’) IS TO REALIZE THAT WE ARE NOT PARTIALLY, BUT TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON GOD’S GRACE AND MERCY.   This is none other than the OPPOSITE OF PRIDE, and it IS THE GREAT BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF HUMILITY.   Without humility, there’s no foundation for any of the other Christian building blocks to rest on, and the whole thing crumbles like the “man who built his house upon the sand”  (Matthew 7).

John writes in his Gospel and puts it this way:  “…unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it cannot bring a harvest”  (paraphrased).  Pride or selfishness is at the root of every sin and every untoward thought or action.   To try to teach anyone any Biblical doctrine or any Biblical practice without first teaching them this is almost useless.  To begin to understand the First Beatitude is to begin to understand the great concepts of Faith and Grace.

–Dr. Tony Hopper, June 26, 2022




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