Beatitudes: Poor in Spirit

Jesus makes a lot of promises in the Beatitudes. He describes  the prerequisite conditions and the results. If we match the conditions, we will receive the results. The first of these is for those who are described as the poor in spirit.

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

Poor here is an interesting word. If we look at the Greek translation, we can take it to mean beggars. Christ is describing believers who consider themselves beggars spiritually, believers who don’t hold onto any sense of entitlement, who don’t consider anything they’ve “achieved” worthy of any special consideration. They are ones who understand their position is “woe is me” before a holy and righteous God. A good example is the tax collector Jesus describes in one of His parables:

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  – Luke 18:13, ESV

This was a man who leaned completely on the mercy of God, who was broken over his sinfulness and his unrighteousness compared to a perfect God, and who held absolutely no pride in his spiritual state. This is the perfect example of someone who is “poor in spirit.”

The promise for such as these is that they will have the kingdom of heaven. This is the promise of salvation and redemption, of an eternal future with their God. This is their blessing, not riches, fame, fortune, power, or anything else the world holds dear. This state has nothing to do with their current conditions except for their awareness of where they are spiritually next to God. 

When you examine how you hold yourself spiritually, do you consider yourself a beggar? In your spiritual life, are you so overcome with the magnitude of your sin that you find yourself throwing yourself on God’s mercy? We tend to think better of ourselves than we should. But the Bible reminds us time and again that sin, any sin, disqualifies us from approaching God. It is only through Christ’s substitution for us that we are able to go to God in prayer, that we can enter into eternity with Him. If you don’t find that you have such a broken attitude toward your own spiritual state, ask God to show you where you actually are. It won’t be pretty. It will be painful, humbling, and you will find yourself like that tax collector, unable to raise up your eyes to God. But look at the promised reward: the kingdom of heaven. It’s definitely worth it!


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