The Poor in Spirit
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
Poverty is not popular. It never has been and never will be. Nobody wants to be poor. So why would poverty of the spirit be any different? What is it about this quality or state that is aligned with the kingdom of heaven? Jesus is taking our conventional wisdom and turning it on its head.
Charles H. Spurgeon writes that the poor in spirit are “not those who boast themselves of spiritual riches and personal goodness, but the lowly, the meek, the trembling, the humble, the poor in spirit, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'” The poor in spirit acknowledge their need. They realize that on their own they have nothing.
This is a point that all must reach before coming to Christ. Jesus is clear in other places in the Gospels (Matthew 19:24, Luke 12:20) that those who perceive themselves as having much cannot enter God’s kingdom. Humility is required. The truth is that humility is just viewing ourselves the way we actually are. We have nothing. We can contribute nothing to our own salvation. He brings everything.
When we see ourselves this way, it frees us. We can receive Christ and all that He has done for us. We are set free from our own pride. It is truly a miraculous mindset to have. No one is born poor in spirit. It is a work of the Spirit of God to bring us to the point where we see our own smallness in light of God’s greatness. Yet we as Christians must also continually strive to “have this mind among [us], which is [ours] in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
So let us remember these great words from the Lord Jesus. Vain confidence in our own abilities will not make us great in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is not looking for those who trust in their strengths and know their own greatness. He is seeking those who will readily acknowledge that apart from Christ, they have absolutely nothing to bring to the table. They are the ones who have been changed by Christ and have taken on the true mindset of the kingdom of heaven.