Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven  (Matt. 5:3 KJV)

Poor in spirit showing a poor homeless man

Jesus said the poor in spirit are blessed. In expounding this blessedness, the Amplified Bible dissects  the term “blessed” as “happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous.” Therefore the poor in spirit are a treasure to God and enjoy the privileges of His kingdom. So Jesus indirectly encourages us to seek to be poor in spirit. But what does it mean to be poor in spirit?  

The expression poor in spirit is both figurative and idiomatic. It is figurative because it does not refer to poverty as a lack of material resources. Instead, the poor in spirit refers to the spiritual condition of people’s hearts, not the material status of their pockets, bank accounts, homes,etc. Furthermore, as an idiom, its meaning cannot be derived from the conjoint meanings of its individual words—poor and spirit. Consequently,  the poor in spirit are not those who lack spirit( courage, ambition, drive, etc.). Neither does it mean lacking in the Holy Spirit for us believers. 

In its idiomatic and metaphorical sense, poor in spirit means those who are humble with regard to their capacities or self-worth. In the context of Matthew 5:3— our relationship with God—it means those who have a humble esteem of their spiritual worth before God and recognize their need for His help. The keywords are humble, acknowledge, and need. Just as the materially poor are destitute and depend on others for sustenance, the poor in spirit are spiritually needy and rely on God.

The poor in spirit applies to both sinners and saints. Sinners are the lost who depend entirely on Christ’s cross to be saved. The saints are God’s children who rely continually on His grace for daily Christian living or ministry. While sinners often mistakenly count on their good deeds to save them, the saints are tempted by relying on the flesh or human efforts to live for God or do what He commanded them to do. I can’t overemphasize this: the joys of Christianity are for those who are childlike, have nothing to count on, and depend on God entirely as a child depends on their parents. 

Those who are poor in spirit will enjoy the kingdom of God—the reign of His power. Struggles, frustrations, and failures await those who continue to count on their efforts to live for God or fulfill the ministry God has given them. But those who depend on His wisdom, power, and grace will thrive in the kingdom of God. Be poor in spirit before God.

Please think and mutter the words of Matthew 5:3 above as you think about yourself.

Matthew 5:3 is as essential to believers as it is to the lost. As believers, it is easy to count on our efforts—the ability to pray, study the Word, give, tithe, minister, etc. Similarly, it is easier for ministers to depend on their education, eloquence, resources, etc., than on the Spirit. His strength is made perfect in weakness; the kingdom is for the poor. Watch your life and ministry.

Ask the Spirit to help you be childlike, poor in spirit, or humble before Him constantly. 

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