Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. – Luke 6:20
This is the first statement that Jesus made, to which He referenced as a building set upon a rock verses one set upon shifting sand.
What does this statement mean and how does this contribute to a life lived on a solid foundation?
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
I like the way I was taught to view the idea of being “poor in spirit.” We can learn what being poor in spirit means if we consider what it means to be rich in spirit.
I believe that the spirit is what animates the person. A person can be of many spirits, and it is possible for many people to be of the same spirit. As Christians, we want to be of the Spirit of God: The Spirit that brings us the indwelling of the Kingdom of God.
If we are rich in spirits of this world—spirits of pride, greed, vanity, and various spirits of the times of the world we live in—how can we seek the Spirit of God?
If we feel satisfied with ourselves and with our lives apart from Jesus, then we will not know how badly we need Him.
If we are poor in spirit, then we are not satisfied with ourselves or the world we live in. We feel like something is missing. We can feel like we don’t have any real place in this world. We can feel lost and alone.
Unfortunately, many who are poor in spirit search for ways to be filled, but they do not go to Jesus. Instead, they go after spirits that satisfy for a time, but ultimately destroy.
Some who are poor in spirit try to “find themselves” by attaching to identifying features of themselves, like their race or nationality, their gender, politics, social movements or causes large than themselves, or methods of being “spiritual” that are not of Jesus Christ.
Some fill the void with drugs and alcohol. Some fill the void with financial prosperity or popularity. Some fill the void with power and control over others. Some fill the void by tearing others down.
For some insights into spiritual poverty, take a look at: Self Image Reformation (Complete Series).
Being poor in spirit is just as much a hazard as it is a blessing.
The thing is, we are all poor in spirit without Jesus. Those who are blessed are those who know this to be true.
When we realize that the spirits of this world only lead to more emptiness and destruction, we might look to Jesus.
If we look to Jesus and learn about His ways, we learn that He promises the Holy Spirit of God to those who want to love Him and keep His commandments: commandments of love towards God and fellow man.
When we receive the Holy Spirit of God, we are given a seed of the divine nature and the beginning of our entrance into the Kingdom of God. As the things of God grow in us, we are freed from the spirits of this world and their destruction and these spirits are replaced with the things of the spirits of God: spirits of life.
How does being poor in spirit provide us with a solid foundation?
If we recognize our lack, then we will seek the One who gives all good things. As we seek Jesus and are blessed by the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Truth and the Comforter, we are given what we need in order to stand firm in the right things during times of trouble and confusion.
Even after we receive the Holy Spirit, though we can appreciate the blessing, we should always consider ourselves to be lacking. If we look inward and find our areas of poverty, we can grow. If we begin to think that we have it all, then there is risk of falling into temptation or failing to obtain the promises we are given.
When the world is taken in by the “flood” of wicked men and wicked spirits of the current age, we will not be moved. We might be tempted. We might sin and need to repent. We might go off that straight and narrow path to some degree and have to seek Jesus so that we are reoriented, but we will not fall away as one who is consumed by these evils.
This world is taken over by many kinds of spirits that are not of God and the Holy Spirit of Truth, but of Satan: the father of lies.
What about the version of this statement contained within Luke? Here it simply says, “blessed are the poor.”
Financial prosperity can bring a feeling of contentedness and safety and often leads us towards fullness in spirits of this world. The poor feel their mortality and spiritual poverty more so than the rich, because the rich feel secure. We discussed this idea in the Considering Proverbs 10:15 article.
This article is part of a series that considers the Parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the statements Jesus made during His Sermon on the Mount, to which He referenced in His Parable of the Building on Rock and Sand.