To grasp how contradictory the two halves of this sentence seem is impossible to the fleshly mind. The Greek word for “poor” (ptochos), is the word for beggarly. It is a desperate state of having no resources to operate out of or means of attaining them on our own. There is another state of “almost” poor (penes-Gk) or having little left. The person in that state can have just enough pride and religion left to never find the prize of poverty. They may be in very bad shape, but not bad enough to be thrust into the kingdom of heaven. They are not the people of this passage. Jesus is talking about a total lack of strategies or explanations or resources. Jesus is talking to those who would be bankrupt of all hope in their ability to fix their lives or their circumstances and hunger for change whatever the cost. Now, this is not the kingdom of the average person’s dreams, and certainly not what one thinks of with regard to heavenly living. Yet, Jesus makes them mathematical equals; total poverty of spirit equals (is) the kingdom of heaven.
Recently, though in times past also, I have witnessed people who were devastated by matters, I have been there. I have seen broken, weeping, anxious, depressed and hopeless people who could not contemplate going another day in their desperate condition. BUT…then something (really Someone) happened! Jesus became the only thirst, the only desire and the only goal. Life began to be lived beyond circumstance and in Christ alone. It is not explainable in a “how to” sense when you suddenly are possessed by something, really “Someone,” much larger, much greater than any mere circumstance or your own self. It is a miracle when poverty of self turns into the prize of the high calling of Christ in our lives and all things are summed up in Jesus. Is that not really the kingdom of heaven? And by the way, a kingdom is defined by the King and therefore it is not nearly so much a place as it is a Presence and a Person. This prize of poverty is available only to those who are willing to lose their lives, and be crucified with Him. He must be your only hope for resurrection.
There is one caution, one catch if you will. It is possible to walk away from and thereby lose the state of poverty and thus the kingdom of heaven by being rich in self sufficiency; and what is probably more concerning is that beingalmost poor may be a worse deception than being rich in spirit. It is often the “almost poor” that present themselves as the religious representatives of Jesus and thereby confuse a lost world. Those rich in themselves may be far from His Kingdom but few are confused by them. Arrogance is clear and cold. Lip service religion is foggy and lukewarm. It invites but repels at the same time. Is it possible that this is the reason for a “church” that is sometimes quite ineffective no matter how vocal?
Rev. 3:15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
From your father's heart with love (DWJ)