Reflections on “The Poor in Spirit”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

The sermon on the Mount describes
what human life and human community
looks like when they come under
the gracious rule of King Jesus…

Still today the indispensable condition
of receiving the kingdom of God
is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty…

Thus, to be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty,
indeed our spiritual bankruptcy, before God…
Right at the beginning of his sermon,
Jesus contradicts all human judgments
and all nationalistic expectations of the kingdom of God.
The kingdom is given to the poor, not the rich;
the feeble, not the mighty;
to little children humble enough to accept it,
not to soldiers who boast
that they can obtain it by their own prowess.
– John Stott

We are beggars. This is true! – Martin Luther

The kingdom of God can only be received by empty hands.
Jesus warns against two things:
Worldly self-sufficiency which leads you
to trust yourself and your own resources
so that you don’t need God;
and religious self-sufficiency
where you trust your religious attitude and moral life
and don’t need Jesus.
– Michael Crosby

He only who is reduced to nothing in himself,
and relies on the mercy of God, is poor in spirit.
– John Calvin

Blessed are the spiritual zeros – the spiritually bankrupt,
deprived and deficient, the spiritual beggars,
those without a wisp of religion –
when the kingdom of heaven comes upon them.
– Dallas Willard

Prayer of Confession of Sin – The Beatitudes


O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy; 
Be gracious to us for we have gone astray from your ways. 
Create in us new and contrite hearts, 
that we may now truly lament and confess our sins to You.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. 
But in our pride we exalt ourselves.
Blessed are those who mourn. 
But in our envy we recoil from others’ happiness.
Blessed are the meek and the peacemakers. 
But in our wrath we lash out in revenge.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
But in our sloth we despair of virtue.
Blessed are the merciful. 
But in our greed we demand to possess and fail to give.
Blessed are the pure in heart. 
But in our lust we sacrifice others to serve ourselves.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. 
But in our gluttony we consume unto sickness.
Heavenly Father, it is evident we too have loved darkness. Give us grace to walk again in the light so that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and we have true fellowship with one another. Do this for our good and Your glory. AMEN.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON         1 Timothy 1:15

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
of whom I am the chief.

Using the Beatitudes to Confess Your Sins

Blessed Jesus, you offered us all your blessings when you announced…
“Blessed are the poor in spirit” — but we have been rich in pride.
“Blessed are those who mourn” — but we have not known much sorrow for our sin.
Blessed are the meek” — but we are a stiff-necked people.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”
— but we have filled ourselves to the full with other things.
“Blessed are the merciful,” — but we are harsh and impatient.
“Blessed are the pure in heart,” — our lives are cluttered with impure
thoughts, motives and deeds.
“Blessed are the peacemakers,” — but we have not sought reconciliation.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,”— but our
lives oftentimes do not challenge the ways, priorities and values of the
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all
kinds of evil against you because of me,” —but we have hardly made it
known that we are yours. We plead with you to cleanse us of our sins and
purify our hearts. AMEN.

Reflections on “Those Who Mourn”

“Blessed are those who mourn” is, paradoxically, a more necessary message than
“Rejoice in the Lord always,” because there can be no true rejoicing until we
have stopped running away from mourning.
– Simon Tugwell, The Beatitudes
The disciples bear the suffering laid on them only by the power of Him who
bears all suffering on the Cross. As bearers of suffering, they stand in
communion with the crucified. They stand as strangers in the power of Him
who was so alien to the world that it crucified Him. This is their comfort, or
rather He is their comfort, their comforter…This alien community is comforted
by the cross.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship
Every suffering can be blessed because it hollows out a place in us for God and
His comfort, which is infinite Joy.
– Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue