Matthew 5.3. cont.
3 O the joy of the poor in spirit, the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.
Being poor is a relative thing. Those who consider themselves poor in the Western World, may be considered as reasonable well off in the less developed world.
This is not to belittle the struggle that some experience as they try to make ends meet.
We live in a competitive world, which is often driven by market forces. The inevitable consequence of this is that some will become poor. Jesus said:
“For you always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have Me with you” – John 12.8.
What does the word ‘poor’ mean?
W Barclay helps us out by telling us that the Hebrew words changed in their meaning over a period of time.
1 Initially the word poor, simply meant just that – poor.
2 It then changed to mean that the poor were those who were powerless, having no influence, no help or status, because they were poor.
3 Then, because of this, poor came to mean someone who was downtrodden and oppressed.
4 Finally, as a result of being downtrodden and oppressed, poor came to mean someone who had no earthly resources, and had to put their whole trust in God.
It will be helpful for us to know the understanding of the Jews at that time regarding those who were wealthy and well off; they were considered to be in receipt of God’s blessing.
There is a great deal of truth in this, since all we have comes from God in the first place.
However, the reverse side of this is that their understanding led them to believe that the poor must not be in receipt of God’s blessing, otherwise they would not be poor.
However, as we shall see God places an obligation on the wealthy to look after the poor and not to mistreat them, but sadly they did:
Listen to me, you “fat cows” of Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and who are always asking your husbands for another drink! – Amos 4.1 (NLT).
We must also realize that poverty may well come from disobedience to God and be part of the curses of Deuteronomy 28.15 onwards.
It would be foolish for us to believe that disobedience to God does not have it’s consequences.
If we love Him we will keep His word and so experience the richness of His blessings.