“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” — Matthew 5:3
Jesus, for the first time has a crowd gathered around Him. He is ready to start His first year of teaching. There might have been a buzz about some of the cool stuff He has already done, but for the most part Jesus is about to speak to a bunch of curious people. I can‘t help but think of what I would have said. I probably would have shown them my Clemson diploma and said “hey, I’m a certified teacher so listen to me.” Well, I hope I wouldn’t have been that pathetic. Anyway, Jesus says something that I think is and would have been confusing. The first words out of His mouth are “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. So, that begs the question…what does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? Before reading on, what do you think it means?
When I ask people this question, I usually get answers like “people that are sad,” or “people that don’t have anything.” We take the words “poor in spirit” and take it to mean “poor financially.“ If this is the case, the kingdom of Heaven only belongs to sad people who are broke. No way that is the case.
When I was searching for the answer, the words “in spirit” finally became the focus of my attention. In our earthly minds, we may think that we have finances that God wants (as if He needs our share of the money that is ALL His anyway). We may give money and think that we are really doing something for God. We may give one hour a week on Sunday and think that we are giving God our time. We may do the occasional “good deed” and think that we are right with God because of our own righteousness. All of these things are spiritual things that we can do. But, and this is a big but, if you do these things thinking that the kingdom of Heaven is yours BECAUSE of them, you are the exact opposite of “poor in spirit” you are “puffed up” in spirit, or “prideful” in spirit. Yet, Jesus says “blessed are the POOR in spirit.” So, once again, what does that mean?
It means that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to people who realize that they have absolutely NOTHING spiritual to offer God. In spirit, they know that they are dead. They realize that the only thing they really have to offer is the LIFE that God breathed into them in the first place. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, when I received Christ as a 16 year old teenager, the reason I asked Him into my heart was because He IS life. I was dead, but upon surrendering my life to Him, I became alive (maybe that‘s why it‘s called “born again“). I was totally poor in spirit with nothing to offer Him. Yet, when I realized I was poor in spirit and asked Him to come into my heart, He gave me access to the kingdom of Heaven. Today, I do give, I do go to church, and I do attempt to do good things, but not so that I can go to Heaven. I do these things because I was dead…
But now I live! Christ now lives in me!
Does He live in you?