And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5
How can it be blessed to be poor in spirit? Surely poverty and blessing are opposites? That is how the unbeliever and the carnal believer thinks because their concept of being blessed is associated with possessing things or with worldly forms of pleasure and happiness. Even some, who think they are spiritual, find it hard to make the connection between spiritual poverty and blessedness.
This verse does not deal with material poverty, but rather, spiritual poverty. And this is not a statement about God loving poor people but rather that those who are spiritually poor are blessed. But how can spiritual poverty be blessed – surely we are blessed when we are spiritually rich?
The answer to this dilemma lies in the truth that we cannot hold onto what the world offers, or what we have in the flesh, and to what the Lord offers at the same time. If you want the world’s happiness and blessings then you cannot have God’s happiness and blessedness. We have to choose what we want. Do we want temporal happiness or eternal happiness? Do we want the riches of this world or the eternal treasures that are stored up in heaven? Do we want the happiness that God alone can give or the fleeting emotional highs that we get from some kind of sensory pleasure and that soon comes crashing down again?
Only those who are spiritually poor are willing to look to the Lord for blessing while those who think they have it all worked out have no need for the blessedness God offers because they think they can manufacture their own blessings and happiness. The truth is that it is impossible to manufacture or achieve blessedness or happiness apart from the Lord.
All blessings flow from Him and from Him alone, and man cannot be happy until he finds himself in the perfect will of God and until God fills that void within man that God alone can fill.
It should really say: “blessed are those who recognize that they are poor in spirit”. You see, all of mankind is spiritually bankrupt – no one has anything to boast of and every human being is in desperate need of God’s help and blessings. But very few recognize their poverty and that’s the problem. Many Christians do not recognize their bankruptcy before God and think that they can still achieve blessedness on their own merits or through their own effort.
The church of Laodicea was one such church. They said “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” but Jesus said: “[you] do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). These statements were made about both their financial and spiritual status. The church in Smyrna, on the other hand, recognized their poverty and Jesus declared “but you are rich” (Revelation 2:9).
Those who recognize their spiritual poverty sufficiently to approach the throne of grace for help are the ones upon whom the Lord pours His grace and blessing.
James says “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). And Jesus said “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). It’s as simple as that. As long as we feel we do not have a need, we do not ask and when we don’t ask, we don’t receive. But when we recognize our desperate need of the Lord, and we begin to ask, seek and knock then He is able to pour all His goodness, grace, peace and joy into our lives.
I have never understood why so few of us are able to recognize our need and why we all seem to feel we can go it on our own until the Lord sends some calamity our way before we cry out for help. I suppose the answer lies in our overestimation of our ability at controlling our own destiny and our ignorance of our own weakness. I once heard about a blind girl who was convinced that she was not blind but that the world was always dark! It’s amazing how the problem always lies outside of ourselves!
Paul discovered this when the truth dawned on him that the Lord’s “strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Corinthians 12:10).
Thus the spiritually poor are blessed because they have discovered that the Lord’s strength is far more powerful than their own frailty and that it is much more blessed to have Him work through them, than their own puny efforts.
The second reason the poor in spirit are blessed is because “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. The Kingdom does not belong to the proud, self-sufficient and arrogant. Such are not part of, and will not enter, the Kingdom as the only way into the Kingdom is by faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). Those who do not recognize their poverty do not put their faith in Christ as their faith is in themselves and their own abilities. Only the spiritually poor and needy have any use for the wonderful grace of God and find the need to call upon Him.
The Lord does not hear the prayer of the self-sufficient even if they should call upon the Lord. “on this one will I look, on him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).
The Kingdom does not belong to the righteous, religious, self-made, and self-sufficient – it only belongs to the poor in spirit.
Thirdly the poor in spirit are blessed because God walks with such; “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). What a wonderful privilege to dwell with God in His high and holy place. Once again the special seats in His presence are not reserved for the mighty, noble and wise but for the poor in spirit. What wonderful grace!
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1Corinthians 1:26-29)
By Anton Bosch – Anton Bosch Ministries
Thanks PJ for this, I have always loved the beatitudes but I did not really get the revelation of being “poor in the spirit”. Our world and the Christian world is so geared to being “self empowered” These words of Jesus really turn that notion upside down. I see a lot of Christians doing all these programmes that were created by the world and think they can bring them in the church, it is doomed to fail for this very reason. My prayer is always Lord help me be a humble servant to you, please Lord help me not be tempted by the trappings of the world, please Lord Jesus help me be a good witness to your love, mercy and grace to the people in my world. It is a constant battle but with Jesus by my side all I can do is as the scripture says
“you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). I dont know but when I read these scriptures I dont tend to think they mean, God give me lots of stuff and money. You can’t take these things to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thank you for this PJ –
This spoke to my heart and reminded me of how I am trying to stand on my own. I was struggling with my my foster sons all weekend, they won a divisional district title in football on Saturday and are moving to the state championship in 2 weeks. They won state last year as well and are very talented athletes. However, one is smoking cigarrettes because he wants to have a lower voice for his singing (whatever) and all three of them have been drinking and “other” things with the football team. In addition, the youngest one (of my foster sons, who is 17), thinks that he has “accidentally” (LOL) impregnated his girlfriend and now we need to get a pregnancy test for her.
I have been running crazy, talking to the boys, lecturing them, praying with them, as if I can solve the problems. They have only been with our family since April and I need to remember that there is NO WAY I can help them on my own. God, my husband and I must be a team TOGETHER. We have to allow God to step in do the work, we must only be vessels that God can pour Himself into. We must first empty ourselves out. These boys have been through so much and have been taught their whole lives that they can only become successful if they are athletes or rap stars and it is going to take God to undo their “programming” because I just don’t know how to. I tell them that they can be anything that they want, but God is going to have to heal their wounds. I must remember that they are children of God, not ours, He has merely entrusted them to us to provide for them and allow Him to work through us.
Thank You for these sciptures, they really strengthen me and ground me in the Lord again. I cannot wait to get home from work to go ask my Father for help and repent for trying to do it on my own!
Some folks may disagree with me, but I think a lot of churches could learn from this message. I read somewhere that many churches began to take a detour form the straight and narrow around the 40’s. They began to bring in Sunday Schools and programs. (I am not saying anything against sunday schools, it’s just that many have stopped teaching the Word in exchange for entertainment and keeping the kids happy) Soon most churches depended on seminary educated preachers who learned from imperfect men. In other words, the churches became ‘uppity’ and wordly trying to make their own ‘power’. People stopped getting on their knees, and praying for that which only God could give them. Instead they added more and more programs, and maybe even a latte bar. They brought in paid preachers and entertainers and self help gurus to make ‘power’, but only created another form of deadness. Until they humble themselves and return to their knees and ask the Lord for that which they stand in need of, they will miss out on His blessings.
I think to be poor in spirit means to be hungry for the blessings of God. Because when we are hungry, we ask for something to eat, in fact, we will beg for it if we are starving. And when we beg God for his blessings, in a way that pleases Him, He does bless us. But it has to be His way, not our own. And the blessings of our own making are nothing at all compared to the blessings of our Maker.
I hope that made sense. I am not very good at putting what I am thinking into words. And I hope I didn’t offend.
I need to email you something regarding your foster boys. It’s wonderful advice for raising godly kids by John Piper. Can you post your email here for me?
Hey Mrs. Bucket –
Thanks for offering some advice, I could really use it right now. I just don’t think that Dobson’s “Bringing Up Boys” will cut it with this group. HEE HEE
I didn’t want some troller to snag your email address so i removed it…But not before emailing it to B…
B, check your mail… 🙂
Thanks PJ, I have a thing for emailing John Piper to people 🙂
I was reading Psalm 68 together with my second son this morning.
Here’s one line in the Psalm:
Psa 68:6 God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
I think of Scriptures like the words Daniel’s buddies said also, when faced with a “life” and “death” decision about worshipping God or man’s false god/s. They simply said words to this effect, “hey”, if you want us to think about doing what you want, well, forget it. We don’t nee to waste anyone’s time about it. Just kill us. We are so rich in our spirit with the prosperity of God’s Grace, no matter how much you threaten us, it won’t change a thing, we will worship God alone. God may not deliver us from your authority but be aware of this, God will deliver us from bowing down to your false gods!”
Also, those words in Hebrews 11 seem to add some emphasis to me in this quest to understand True prosperity or what it was Jesus teaches there about being poor in Spirit, because the question is being asked “what truly is it being “poor” in Spirit?” Each of those Saints in Hebrews 11 were obviously “rich” in God’s Faith so that the physical circumstances had no or little effect on them to affect their richness of it in His Grace and Mercy.
I wonder if these things Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church also has some sense in it, what it means to be poor in Spirit?
1Co 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
1Co 1:5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–
1Co 1:6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–
1Co 1:7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Co 1:8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It seems to me if the Holy Ghost is putting something similar on your hearts about me or anyone for that matter, as we read there at 1 Corinthians 1 He put those thoughts on Paul’s heart for them, it would indicate they were poor spirit? The Holy Ghost did put those thoughts on Paul’s heart for the Corinthians and it He does so for us as well, it might be judged that we indeed are poor in spirit?
What do you think?
Thank you PJ for posting these! I needed a reading for tomorrow night on Humility (being the poor in spirit) and this was exactly what I wanted!
cassiopia, im glad this was of help! 🙂
These are some lovely teachings from the beatitudes. Anton Bosch did a wonderful job on each one of them. Check out the others in the series, if you have time.
I’ll definitely do that! The reading went well, and it helped knowing I got it from a ‘good reliable source’ instead of some of the new agey junk flying around the web!