B@E2d: the first one
there is not much in this world quite as comforting as the idea that our present hapless situation will be rewarded eventually. most of Earth’s inhabitants that have gone through some form of hardship have tried to somehow justify their situation or comfort themselves with the thought, everything happens for a reason. there is a good reason for this, though: people want to believe that what happens to them has a purpose (and usually that purpose is in their favor). not many people like the idea that stuff happens to them just because it happens or that their situation will just get worst.
before anybody objects (or after, i don’t care, really), let me just acknowledge that i, too, accept this sentiment, though it may not have the same meaning as it does for some people. i believe in a God that, despite our ignorance and/or defiance of His Will, loves us and wants the best for us. i also believe that any trouble i may encounter is a tool of God’s Providence and He will use it to teach and/or show me something that will draw me closer to Him.
Jesus’ promise to the “poor in spirit” here plays a similar tune. He is saying that those that are currently in humble positions here on Earth will ascend to higher ranks in the Next World than those who did not share their lowly status. the phrase ‘poor in spirit’ used here is not a reference to one’s lack of excitement and/or emotion, but rather a state that is contrasted to those that may be boastful in spirit or self-sufficient. it is indicating a person’s rather humble and/or lowly position.
the basic principle revealed in this phrase is: less is more. those who have little in this present life will gain more in the Life to come, and, in fact, possess it.
this is concordant with many of Jesus’ other teachings. He often condemns wealth and/or prosperity and encourages his listeners to maintain or acquire a state of poverty in order to “build up treasures in Heaven.” Jesus told the rich young man to sell all he had and give the money to the poor(Matt. 13:44-46), He compared a rich man getting into Heaven to a camel going through the eye of a needle (Matt. 19:24), he compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure that a man sold all he had in order to keep it(Mark 10:17-31). it isn’t impossible for a rich man to get into Heaven, it’s just really hard.
for instance, let’s take that last parable. when the man found the treasure in the field, he could have just grabbed what he could right then and there. he could have come back that night and dug up the whole thing. the only way he could for sure keep the treasure, though was by raising enough money quickly enough in order to buy the field that the treasure was already in. he was not about to risk losing any part of that treasure.
are we so vigilant in our pursuit of God’s gift to us? are we willing to let go of everything else in this life so that we can for sure receive the Kingdom of Heaven? i’m just going to let Jim Elliot take you the rest of the way:
“He is no fool that gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”