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The first beatitude—God’s claim on man

From the October 2016 issue of The Christian Science Journal

For years I wondered about the meaning of the first beatitude—“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Why is being poor in spirit such a blessed state? Finally I allowed myself to take a more spiritual approach to the words. Instead of asking, “Why?” as if it somehow wasn’t a correct statement, I asked, “How” are the poor in spirit worthy of God’s reality? This attitude helped the words sink deeper and perhaps actually made me a bit poorer in spirit! 

Then it dawned on me that the poor in spirit are those who know their need for God. Knowing our need for God and complete dependence on Him is not just so that God will help us in some way, but is much more vital than that. It is an absolute prerequisite for everything. We are poor in spirit because we possess nothing at all in or of ourselves. We aren’t alive because of ourselves, and we don’t have a single quality without our divine cause. 

Perceiving this, we can discern that having life is the result of Life, which is God; it’s not from any power or effort on our part. Instead of being “a life,” we are the effect of Life itself. Since an effect cannot in any way be independent of its cause, we can see that God, the one and only cause, has an irrevocable claim on His effect, and that effect is us.

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