“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (NLT)
Jesus tends to turn traditional thinking upside down. In his day and our own, having wealth and power was seen to be a sign of God’s blessing. Such people were in privileged positions. Not so according to Jesus.
As our translation suggests, the poverty in view here is not simply that of not having enough money. It is a more generalised sort of impoverishment. It is recognition that no matter how good I might be I can’t measure up to the perfect goodness of God. It is recognition that no matter how much money I have I can’t buy my way to heaven. And it recognises that whatever power I wield on earth I am powerless to change myself in such a way that I gain entitlement of membership in God’s family.
It is not as if material or spiritual poverty is good in itself. Rather it is a condition that might better allow us to reach out for the grace of God. It is not as if rich people can’t be right with God. Rather it is that those who have fewest human resources tend to be more inclined to eagerly embrace God’s resources.
To gain the riches of God’s mercy and inherit the riches of eternal life, we first have to face our poverty. God’s help, as always, comes best to the helpless.
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