Monday, February 29 Read Matthew 5:1-14
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Many people who grew up during the Great Depression years of the 1930s reflect back on that time and say, “I didn’t know we were poor.” They talk about having a loving family, good food to eat, hand-me-down clothing they liked, happy events they remembered. They were poor, but they didn’t know it.
Could the same be true of people who are poor in spirit? They trust in God, are thankful for everything they see around them, know it is not their own striving that has given them a good life, and they handle the bad things that happen with faith and hope. The kingdom of heaven is present in their lives; they celebrate that, but they know it isn’t because of something they have done. They are thankful for the presence of God in their lives.
A friend told us he had taken a class from a professional photographer, and the man had said that when you photograph people, the light comes from inside the person. Maybe this explains the radiance people experienced when they were near Jesus. The kingdom of heaven was shining through him.
I think of humble pioneers in western Nebraska living simple lives, dedicated to helping others and serving their church. I think of a retired missionary couple in Tanzania who stayed in a tiny house in a land they loved so they could continue to serve their Savior completely. I think of my dad, who would trudge through a Minnesota blizzard to help someone in town fix a furnace, because he knew it was the right thing to do.
I think of Hermann, a 21-year-old talented musician with a weak heart. The night before his surgery he wrote, “Hermann, you are beginning life.” He was one who knew the meaning of this Bible verse, and when he died a short time after the surgery, the transition to being in the real kingdom of heaven was probably no surprise to him, for he had already been living it.
William Barclay’s commentary gives this longer translation to the short verse: “O the bliss of the man who has realized his own utter helplessness, and who has put his whole trust in God, for thus alone he can render to God that perfect obedience which will make him a citizen of the kingdom of heaven!”
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