Matthew 5:3 NKJV “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus began His famous sermon on the mount ‘The Beatitudes’ with words that contradict each other. In the first beatitude (v3), He declares that those who are ‘poor in spirit’ will inherit God’s Kingdom. What a radical yet confusing statement! Why would God want us to be poor? And what does ‘poor in spirit‘ mean?
Jesus was not referring to financial poverty. He was talking about being ‘spiritually poor‘. To be spiritually poor is to realize that we are spiritually bankrupt. That we have absolutely nothing that is of any worth to God. The world teaches us to be ‘self-reliant‘ and ‘self-sufficient‘, but this beatitude teaches us that we are nothing without God.
Moses was poor in spirit. So was Jacob, David, Solomon, Job, Isaiah, John the Baptist, the Centurion, Peter, Paul, and the Canaanite woman. Neither of them ever considered themselves to be somebody. They leaned completely on the sovereign grace of God.
So, what is poverty of spirit?
- It is a sense of powerlessness in ourselves.
- It is a sense of helplessness before God.
- It is a sense of moral uncleanness before God.
- It is a sense of personal unworthiness before God.
- It is a sense that if there is to be any life or joy or usefulness, it will have to be all of God and all of grace. (Resource by John Piper)
Dearly beloved, Jesus is saying to us today that no matter our status in life, we must recognise our spiritual poverty before God. The ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is both eternity in Heaven with God after death (Romans 6:23) and the eternal quality of life with God on earth (John 10:10). In its essence, ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ refers to salvation. God offers us salvation as a gift, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
When Jesus taught this beatitude, He was declaring that, before we can enter God’s Kingdom, we must recognize two things: 1. the worthlessness of our spiritual currency, and 2. the inability of our own works to save us. If you feel inadequate, guilty, helpless, or like a failure, don’t try to hide it. Instead allow yourself to be driven to the grace of God.
The Lord has promised to be with you, help you, and strengthen you. Yours is the very Kingdom of God.