This kingdom we are inheriting is a different kingdom, not of this earth, and unlike any other kingdom as we typically know them to be. The road to this kingdom is narrow, few find it. The path to this kingdom is costly.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”1
We’ve heard these words so often that perhaps we’ve just now skimmed the passage, feeling as though we know these things, now onto the next. Stop and reread carefully and you will see that this is not elementary teaching, but it is in fact a very tough list. Not only does it appear to be describing incredible weakness, so too does it seem impossible to maintain.
You will want to stand up for yourself, but you cannot
You will want to be seen, but you cannot draw attention to yourself
You will want to indulge from time to time, but you must refrain
You will have the “right” to get your way, but you must lay it down in preference of another
Yet the One who went before us, on this same path, He set the example for us. He preached these words as He spoke to us about the manner in which we should live. And so when you hear, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ,”2 know that this is what is being referred to.
Poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaker, persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Have we pursued this “mind,” this manner of thinking, these characteristics as our defense to a world that is watching, looking to see if there really is a hope that is within us?
His complaint was that those who proclaimed to be followers of Christ demonstrated no difference whatsoever in their lives and he needed to see an example that there was a real invisible kingdom - something other than words we profess.
The Lord brought just such an example into Rees’ life - a Jew who lost everything to follow Christ.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit, and the like? This man knew. He lost his business, his inheritance (for his parents had written religion into the will), his wife, his newborn child, his freedom (he was thrown into the insane asylum based on accusations he was hearing voices).
But he had found the kingdom, he had seen the worthiness of the King, and all else paled in comparison.
Have we thus seen the King yet?
In other words, have our desires of the flesh been so crucified? Have we died to ourselves, to our reputation before men, and to the defense of ourselves by the means of this world?
Have we put to death the love of money, the pride of life, the lust of the flesh? Have we truly become poor in ourselves that we might become rich in Christ?
We pursue blessing, but do we pursue meekness? We ask for favor, but do we ask to be merciful? We seek peace but do we seek to be the peacemaker, even at our own expense? We cry out to see God, but do we cry out for purity in the inward parts, even in our very hearts?
These are tough questions but ones we must consider.
It is no easy road, and quite costly, as mentioned above, for we cannot be merciful, pure, or peacemaker until we have been made poor in spirit, broken, contrite, given something to mourn over, something that grieves us deeply.
Have we been thus humbled? Do we thus grieve to the point of sorrow unto death?
Yet though we face trouble, we do not lose heart, for the promised blessing of those who mourn is this - they shall be comforted.
And in being comforted, perhaps I should say as the way in which we are comforted, is this - we are called sons of God, shown mercy, given life and the privilege to one day see God face to face, as a friend. In this way then, and through this small gate, we are filled, comforted and we inherit the earth.
This kingdom we are inheriting is a different kingdom, not of this earth, and unlike any other kingdom as we typically know them to be. The way to this kingdom is narrow, few find it. The path to this kingdom is costly.
Let us then, “arm ourselves with the same way of thinking,”3 as Christ, the one who suffered and showed us the way of this new kind of kingdom.
To be persistent is to be prevailing.
To be fervent is to be effective.
To be poor in spirit is to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
1 Peter 4:1