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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XXII THE POOR IN SPIRIT

Matthew v.3.

Whom does Jesus call the blessed people? First of all, he says, they are the |poor in spirit.| And who are the poor in spirit? It sometimes seems as if Christians thought that to be poor in spirit one must be poor-spirited -- a limp and spiritless creature, without dash, or vigor, or force. But the poor in spirit are not the poor-spirited. They are simply the teachable, the receptive, the people who want help and are conscious of need. They do not think they |know it all;| they appreciate their own insufficiency. They are open-minded and impressionable. Now Jesus says that the first approach to his blessedness is in this teachable spirit. The hardest people for him to reach were always the self-sufficient people. The Pharisees thought they did not need anything, and so they could not get anything. As any one thinks, then, of his own greatest blessings, the first of them must be {59} this, -- that somehow he has been made open-minded to the good. It may be that the conceit has been, as we say, knocked out of him, and that he has been |taken down.| Well! it is better to be taken down than to be still up or |uppish.| It is better to have the self-complacency knocked out of you than to have it left in. Humility, as Henry Drummond once said, even when it happens through humiliation, is a blessing. Not to the Pharisee with his |I am not as other men are,| but to the publican crying |God be merciful to me, a sinner,| comes the promise of the beatitude. The first condition of receiving the gift of God is to be free from the curse of conceit. The spiritually poor are the first to receive Christ's blessing. They have at least made themselves accessible to the further blessings which Jesus has to bestow.

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