Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 (ESV)
In one sense everyone is poor in spirit. But, Jesus wasn’t speaking of everyone in Matthew 5:3 because everyone doesn’t enter the kingdom of God. Paul wrote, Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV) He also warned that those who practice the works of the flesh such as sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions and envy will not enter the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV).
Those who are truly poor in spirit look to God as the source of their lives; they have no confidence in their flesh. Those who are poor in spirit do not have a high opinion of themselves; they realize that they are spiritually bankrupt, stained by sin, unworthy of God’s love and totally powerless within themselves to affect change in their hearts. Those who are poor in spirit realize that they are helpless to accomplish any good works apart from the all-sufficient grace of God.
The bible gives us several examples of men who were poor in spirit. David wrote, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5 ESV) Isaiah proclaimed, Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts! (Isaiah 6:5 ESV) Peter fell at the knees of Jesus and said, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (Luke 5:8 ESV) And the apostle Paul confessed, For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:9 ESV) The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)
It is exactly these people that Jesus said are supremely blessed, fortunate, well off and happy. The blessing granted to those who are poor in spirit is that they receive the kingdom of heaven; which means they are recipients of all of the benefits that come with being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. However, the highest blessing is the privilege of being in the presence of the King. God spoke through Isaiah and said that he looks on those who are humble, have a contrite heart and tremble at his word (Isaiah 66:2). He also said that he dwells with him who has a contrite and lowly spirit (Isaiah 57:15).
God does not despise those who are poor in spirit. Jesus does not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick (Matthew 12:20). God recognizes the brokenness of the poor in spirit as a pleasing sacrifice. David wrote, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17 ESV)
Do you see yourself as poor in spirit? Better yet, how do you believe God sees you?
Scriptures for meditation: