Poor In Spirit

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

Look at the promise given to the poor in spirit! The kingdom of heaven, which is salvation, eternal life.

You may be thinking, “I thought salvation was through faith.” It is. There are hundreds of verses that announce that salvation comes through faith. But what is “poor in spirit,” and how does it play into eternal life?

Good question. In fact, it is an excellent question because being poor in spirit is not seen much in modern Christianity.

Filling today’s Christianity is a feel-good gospel. Many church services highly resemble a high-school pep rally. The band starts playing, and out come the cheerleaders, aka the praise and worship team. This programmed excitement gets the crowd in a spirited mood. The audience is cheering, clapping, repeating, or singing with those on the gym floor or stage. Once things are at a fever pitch, out walks the head coach, aka the Pastor. He talks about some of the challenges the team (in the case of the church, the congregation) will face this week. However, the team can overcome any current problems or future difficulties through teamwork and determination. The Pastor’s message is slightly different – we can overcome any obstacle with the love of Christ. Just as the high school students leave the auditorium filled with excitement and anticipation for tonight’s game, the congregation leaves the church with an “I can conquer the world through Christ” attitude.

Christians can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Christians are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37). Here is the problem with the “God loves you. Go have victory in Jesus” gospel – A person needs to be a Christian before they can do all things, or be more than a conqueror through Christ. A person does not become a Christian until they have been poor in spirit. Saving faith goes hand in hand with being poor in spirit.

One must wonder then, “What is being poor in spirit?” Isaiah 61:1 proclaims to whom the Messiah would preach the gospel. When you roll together the heart attributes of those receiving the gospel from Christ, you’ll have a good picture of being poor in spirit.

The first mentioned is the meek. The meek can see themselves compared to God and see where they stand. We are all sinners. God is sinless. We are unholy. God is holy. God is so powerful He can speak the universe into existence. Our strength can help us lift a heavy box. The meek can see that God is eternal and that none of us has power over death. In comparison, God is everything, and we are nothing. The meek understand their position before God.

The second group listed is the broken-hearted. The meekness described in the previous paragraph should bring us to broken heartedness. Someone broken-hearted sees their sin and God’s perfection and thinks, “Dear God, what have I done?” Broken heartedness brings an attitude of contrition.

“Captives” and “bound” are the next group on the Messiah’s preaching list. These people understand that they are in bondage to their sin. Being bound to their sin brings a knowledge that freedom from their iniquity cannot happen without help. Because of their broken heartedness and meekness discussed above, the captives realize they cannot save themselves and, therefore, need a Saviour.

Saving faith combines all three of these groups, which are progressive.

Meekness comes, and we see our sinfulness in the light of God’s righteousness. Our imperfection breaks our heart, and we develop remorse. Then we plead to the Messiah to release us from the bondage of sin through the blood He shed on the cross. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He did that through His blood sacrifice on the cross. Faith in what Jesus did on the cross to wash our sins away grants eternal life. The poor in spirit own the kingdom of heaven.

By definition, the gospel is good news. Yet, if all we experience is that God loves you without discussing sin, can a person ever be poor in spirit? If the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit, what does that say about those who have never experienced the poorness of spirit?

Is your salvation based on a warm feeling or a resurrected Son of God?