“Happy Are Those Conscious of Their Spiritual Need”
DID you ever see a person totally blind who was not aware of his blindness? Or did you ever meet a person so afflicted with trembling palsy that he could not feed himself and yet did not know that something was wrong with him? Hardly! But do you know that it is possible for a person to be just as blind and helpless in a religious or spiritual sense, in regard to his relationship to his Maker, the God of heaven and earth, and yet be wholly unaware of it?
Yes, there are such persons today, even as there were in Bible times. Thus Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said that the religious leaders of his day were ‘blind men leading the blind and that both would fall into the pit’; although they themselves said to him, “We are not blind also, are we?” Likewise in the book of Revelation we find a certain Christian congregation, the one at Laodicea, being told, among other things: “You say, ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked.”—Matt. 15:14; John 9:40; Rev. 3:17.
Such calloused sinners certainly are not included in the opening words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” In passing it might be noted that the nine conditions Jesus mentioned in his opening remarks are, according to the original Greek, states of felicity rather than “beatitudes,” as they are usually termed.—Matt. 5:3-11.
Literally translated, Jesus’ words, as noted in the footnote of the New World Translation, 1950 edition, read: “Happy are those who are beggars for the spirit.” The word in the original Greek rendered “poor” or “beggars” is ptokhos, which means not just the poor but the very poor, the destitute, the beggars. It is used to describe Lazarus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, making the greatest possible contrast.—Luke 16:20, 22.
Why did Jesus refer to these “beggars for the spirit” as being happy, that is, having a state of felicity or being favored by God? First of all, because, in contrast to those who are calloused, indifferent or ignorant of their spiritual need, there is hope for these. Conscious of their spiritual plight, they have stopped going in the wrong direction.
Those who are truly conscious of their spiritual needs or are beggars for the spirit may also be said to be happy because they will do something about it. They will heed Jesus’ instructions: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” Among the things they may ask for is Jehovah’s spirit, which Jesus said his heavenly Father was ready to give.—Luke 11:8-13.
Further, those “conscious of their spiritual need” are happy in an anticipatory sense, even as Jesus said, “since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” Strictly speaking, those to whom the “kingdom of the heavens” belongs are a limited number of Christ’s followers who will sit on thrones and rule with him for a thousand years. (Luke 12:32; Rev. 20:4-6) However, the principle stated at Matthew 5:3 also applies to others, to Christ’s “other sheep” mentioned at John 10:16. These will be happy in that they will inherit the earthly realm of the kingdom of God, even as Jesus said to the “sheep” on his right hand in his illustration or parable of the ‘sheep and the goats’: “Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.”—Matt. 25:34.
The felicity or happiness of those conscious of their spiritual need Jesus illustrated in his parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus pictured those of the common people who were conscious of their spiritual lacks and shortcomings and upon whom the religious leaders laid great burdens. On the other hand, the rich man pictured those who were rich religiously speaking, having seated themselves in Moses’ seat and having access to the Law of Moses and occupying the chief seats in the synagogues.—Matt. 23:2-4.
However, as a result of Jesus’ preaching a change took place, pictured in the parable by the death of each. The ‘rich’ religious leaders came to be in torment because of the blunt message that Jesus preached, exposing their greed, hypocrisy and false religious teachings; whereas the Lazarus class, those conscious of their spiritual need, accepted the truth Jesus preached, became the spiritual remnant of Jewry and were given the hope of the heavenly kingdom.—Luke 16:19-31.
If you would know the happiness that Jesus spoke about, then you too must be conscious of your spiritual need. How do you show that you are conscious of your spiritual need? One way is by being a “beggar for the spirit,” that is, praying to God for his spirit and for help in knowing and doing his will. (Luke 11:13) Another way is by carefully studying God’s Word, wherein he reveals his will for his earthly creatures. Of course, to understand that Word you will need help, which God has providentially provided, as, for example, through the magazine you are now reading.—Matt. 24:45-47.
If you would satisfy your spiritual need you may “not neglect the house of our God,” but must assemble with others who are conscious of their spiritual need for the purpose of satisfying it. Coming together with others of the same heart and mind, you are able to minister to one another’s needs, to incite one another to love and fine works, giving and receiving mutual encouragement. Included in such fine works is ministering to still others who are conscious of their spiritual need with the Word of God. Doing so will result in even greater happiness!—Neh. 10:39; Acts 20:35; Heb. 10:23-25.
Truly it can be said that those who “are conscious of their spiritual need” and who sincerely strive to satisfy that need are happy now and will yet become increasingly happy!