Highlight: Why are the poor in spirit blessed?

We often think of someone who is blessed as being wealthy, having lots of friends, or being influential. But Jesus defines being blessed a little differently,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

In order to understand these seemingly paradoxical statements of Jesus, Dr. Russell Jeung stepped into a life of poverty.

“I decided to do that – to meet and live among the poor. I recognized how much the poor readily trust in God and have so much more ultimate dependence on God than I did, because they have to depend on Him for their health and safety. They have to depend on Him for their housing and for their livelihood. So they’re much less self-sufficient, and so much more aware of the brokenness of society and their own lives.”

God wants us to rely on Him for everything. When we feel like we are self-sustaining, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we don’t need God.

“The more I entered into their struggles, I lived in the same conditions in the apartment complex that was a total slum. The poor, they can’t afford anything else. I could have moved out. We had roaches, we had broken heating, we had toilets that didn’t work. When it rained, our place got totally flooded. I lived in these conditions and I realized they really do cry out to God so much more, they really do recognize their need for God so much more.”

Whether we have a lot of a little, Dr. Jeung encourages us to recognize that we are all equals in the sight of God. Regardless of our socio-economic standing we are all dependent on God for everything in our lives, whether we live like it or not.


Dr. Russell Jeung is a leading sociologist of Asian Americans, race, and religion. He is professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.

Key Scripture: Matthew 5:3

At home in exile

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