Understanding the Beattitudes

I grew up in church and have listened to the Sermon on the Mount for most of my life and still wondered at the various interpretations of some of the verses.  These verses are located in Matthew 5:3 and 5 if you want to look them up.

 For instance:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek,

For they will inherit the earth.

 I have seen many versions of the Bible and some even change these two verses to read: Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.

So, why did they take out the word “spirit” in the first verse?  I think that is incorrect.  I think it should be read as originally written.  I also think that the assumption that Jesus was talking about the poor is incorrect.  It says, poor in SPIRIT.  Understand that this is my opinion, so you can disagree, but I am excited to see this because it answers a question I’ve had FOREVER that no one could really answer.

 Who is poor in Spirit?  When you think about our spirit and our minds you must realize that in order to learn, to grow, we must have the mental facilities available to us to use to understand what is being said or written.  If we do not have the ability to understand and make our own choices, then those would be people who are poor in mind and in spirit.  The ones who were born severely mentally handicapped.  The innocent brought into the world to exist and affect the lives of all those around them.  Many children who will never speak, or do things for themselves, but who are here to serve a purpose nonetheless – of what may be yet to be determined.  I know some who have had their lives forever changed by a handicapped child, and have become completely different people in the process.  These are the ones – theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

What about the meek?  I was taught to be meek was basically to be silent, soft spoken, well-behaved, prayerful, submissive, humble.  How many truly meek people do you know in this day and age?  Being meek does not mean you have to be a door mat.  What I believe this actually means is that we need to watch our ego’s and be in more of a humble mindset.  A humble person is slow to jump to conclusions, aware of circumstances and surroundings, and more eager to learn.  A humble person is not one who is quick to pass judgment or blame, or point fingers.  A humble person will listen to reason and learn from their mistakes as well as the mistakes of others.

What does it mean that the meek will inherit the earth?  I think it means that those with a humble attitude and an open mind, that seek knowledge – for them the way will be open.  When we act in humility, then things like mercy, grace, love, joy, and forgiveness all go hand in hand.  When we are meek, the other Beatitudes all fall in line, from those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – or have a hunger and thirst for knowledge and spiritual fulfillment, they shall be filled. 

 It’s an interesting thought that I came across today as I studied another ancient text.  It’s interesting to me how studying things from different angles make the words come alive and mean so much more. 

 What a gift to spend a lifetime in the pursuit of knowledge and baring witness to the changes yet to come, by studying history to keep in mind where we’ve been and learning how to live in the process.

Cherry Coley ©

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7 comments

  1. “Spirit” definitely needs to be added back. But it was probably omitted because of the Christian idea of the Trinity, the three-in-one of The Father (God), The Son (Jesus), and The Holy Spirit (The Ghost of the resurrection). I guess the Christians don’t want US thinking we are in anyway like THAT spirit, otherwise if he’s already in us, what’s the need in accepting him to enter? Just a guess. And probably a wrong one, but it’s the first one that popped into my head. :)

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