In May, a homeless man in Piccadilly, York in the United Kingdom was kicking at pedestrians as they passed on the sidewalk. A security guard crossed the street and tried to calm him down. The drunken man threatened to slit the guard’s throat. Then, two street marshals intervened and the man threatened to bite off the nose of one of the officers. The homeless man was arrested and promptly spat on the floor of the police van. Later, he pled guilty to a public order offence and to damaging the police van. He was sentenced to community service and has since found a place to live.*
Here, we see an attitude that is the opposite of the first Beatitude. Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(NIV) Being poor in spirit not only recognizes God is the source of blessing, but has a humble dependence on his mercy — unlike the homeless man in York. He was certainly financially poor, but his belligerent attitude did not express humble reliance on the mercy of God, or of anyone else.
Remember, the word poor used in Matthew 5:3 means someone unable to work, who owns nothing and can only beg for the mercy of others. We must approach God with full reliance on his mercy and grace to meet our needs. That’s what it means to be poor in spirit.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.