To be poor in spirit is to recognize my utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. It is understanding that I have absolutely nothing of worth to offer God. Being poor in spirit is admitting that, because of my sinful nature, I am completely destitute spiritually, and can do nothing to deliver myself from the condition of my heart.
Jesus is saying that, no matter your status in life, you must recognize your spiritual poverty before you can come to God in faith to receive the salvation He offers.
- I lack the compassion to be just
- I am unfaithful to others and inconsistent
- I judge myself by my intentions and others by their actions
- My flesh is continually pulling me to exalt self
- I am selfish, self-focused, self-absorbed, and self-obsessed
- The purest of my motivations is contaminated by self
I need you, God. I desperately need the Lord to set me free from my destructive, selfish nature–to deliver me from sin.
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
There are very few people who would agree that poverty is a blessing. Most determine not to be poor and some vow, as I did most of my life, to lie, cheat, and steal, rather than have not.
The belief of the world is that poverty is the great enemy to human happiness—does it not destroy or limit liberty? Most people would describe poverty as a curse rather than a blessing.
The word used in the Greek to describe poor is ptochos; not one who is simply poor, but one who is completely destitute. Ptochos has a negative connotation, rooted in humiliation and shame.
The Hebrew word, ani, describes the poor, humble, faithful man, who has no help on earth, and who, in perfect trust, has wholly committed himself to God.
In it’s truest essence, it describes the man who has fully realized his own inadequacy, his own worthlessness, and his own destitution, and who has come to put his whole trust in God. It describes the man who has realized that by himself life is impossible but that with God all things are possible; the man who has become so dependent on God that he has become independent of everything else in the universe.
This beatitude has in it a whole attitude to life; there are three basic truths:
- The way to power lies through the realization of helplessness
- It underscores that true wealth can never consist in the possession of things
- The way to independence lies through dependence, and the path to freedom lies in surrender
The path to bliss which the world can neither give nor take away lies through the recognition of our own need, and the conviction that the need can be met when we commit to God in perfect trust.
“O the bliss of the man who has realized his own utter helplessness and his own utter inadequacy, and has put his whole trust in God; for then he will humbly accept the will of God, and in doing so he will become a citizen of the kingdom of God.”
[Adapted from “The Beatitudes & The Lord’s Prayer For Everyman,” by William Barclay]