The Orchard EFC
Colin S. Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard EFC, with campuses in five locations around the Chicago area.
To be poor in spirit is where the blessing of God begins. This is the gateway blessing that leads to all the others, and without this none of the other blessings can be reached.
The blessing promised to the poor in spirit is “the kingdom of heaven,” and it is promised in the present tense. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, emphasis added).
Since heaven is a future blessing, we might have expected Jesus to say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs will be the kingdom of heaven.” But our Lord doesn’t say that.
What makes this present-tense promise even more striking is that all of the other blessings are promised for the future:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (v. 4).
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (v. 5).
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (v. 6, all emphases added).
But the promise of heaven breaks the pattern. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That’s present tense—Jesus is talking about a taste of heaven that you can enjoy now.
Life in this world is a long way from heaven, and the things that may come to your mind when you think of heaven are a world away from the realities of earth. Streets of gold? I’ve never seen one. Redeemed people made perfect? Not where I live. Lions lying down with lambs? Nations no longer waging war? Every tear wiped from our eyes? None of this is ours yet. So what taste of heaven can the poor in spirit have now?
The poor in spirit taste the greatest blessing of heaven, which is the presence of God. As the Almighty declared to Isaiah: “Thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit” (57:15).
Do you see what is being said here? The sovereign Lord of the universe lives in two places. He dwells in heaven, the high and holy place, but He also lives with the person who has a contrite and lowly spirit. Heaven is to live with God, and the poor in spirit get a taste of it, because God comes to live with them. Heaven comes to the humble before the humble get to heaven.
Reprinted with permission from Momentum: Pursuing God’s blessings through the Beatitudes, by Colin S. Smith (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2016).