We all know what poor is. Sophie Tucker once said, “Listen. I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor. And believe me, rich is better.” But Jesus pronounces His first blessing on those ‘poor in spirit’. This is the first beatitude and is the foundational attitude we must have. No one enters God’s kingdom without having the attitude described here.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
What does it mean to be ‘Poor in Spirit’?
‘Poor in Spirit’ is not:
- Poor in material possessions. Jesus did not say ‘Blessed in spirit are the poor.’
- Poor-spirited or lack of enthusiasm.
- A self-condemning false humility.
- Sacrificing of individuality or personality.
‘Poor in Spirit’ is:
- The opposite of being rich in pride.
- Not just poor – it is begging poor. The Greek word used is ptokas, not the normal word for poverty (penance). Ptokas is to be so poor you have to beg.
- An emptying, while the rest of the sermon is a filling.
- Condemns the idea we can live the sermon ourselves. Someone has said, “This Sermon on the Mount is too high to climb. Any attempt or idea that you can live the sermon is proof you do not understand it.”
- Completely opposite of most people’s thinking. Most think we must build up our self-image. We often hear of being ‘filled with the Spirit’ (and this is important). But few talk about being ‘empty of the spirit.’
- Admitting your need. If you think you have no needs, that is your biggest need. The first step of Alcoholics Anonymous is: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to admit that we have nothing in which to make ourselves acceptable to God spiritually. It is to beg Him for spiritual help.
How can the begging, humble be blessed?
- The person has a disposition the very opposite of nature. It is a sure sign of a divine work of grace.
- It is Christlike and anything Christlike brings blessing.
- It makes us kings. Today, we are servants of the Kingdom. Tomorrow the servants will be kings with authority, liberty, and adequacy.
How can you tell if you are humble?
“Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it.” – Andrew Murray
- You accept others, because you have accepted yourself.
- You accept your circumstances.
- You have a right attitude toward things. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” -Thoreau
- You accept God’s will for your life.
Pride is a terrible attitude. The Lord resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Even though the world may not tolerate nor applause the humble, the Lord does. And it is the first step toward the Kingdom of Heaven.
Have you ever humbled yourself before the Lord God Almighty?
Is your life a life of humility before your fellow man and woman?
You can read my other Sermon on the Mount articles: Life Redefined: Sermons from The Sermon on the Mount.