Poor in Spirit
He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:2-3)
When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” the word poor that He used is a verb meaning “to shrink, cower, or cringe.” It describes a destitute person or someone who is completely dependent on others for help.
But Jesus didn’t just say, “Blessed are the poor.” He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Jesus was not addressing a person’s economic situation but their spiritual condition. Let’s not miss what this is saying: Blessed, or happy, is the person who recognizes his or her spiritual poverty apart from God. Happy is the man or woman who sees what they really are in God’s sight: lost, hopeless, and helpless.
Apart from Jesus Christ, everyone is spiritually poor. Regardless of our education, accomplishments, or religious knowledge, we are all spiritually destitute. How often we will look at someone in prison or the down-and-outer or the drug addict and think, Now, there is someone who is spiritually destitute. Then we look at ourselves. Maybe we have lived a relatively refined life. Maybe we have a good education or have accomplished certain things. We say, “I am not as destitute as that person.” In one sense, that may be true. But in another sense, it isn’t true at all. Before God, all people are spiritually destitute and unable to help themselves.
Some people have a hard time admitting this. It’s difficult for us to acknowledge that we need to reach out to God, that we need His forgiveness. But if we want to be forgiven, if we want to be happy, then we must humble ourselves and admit our need.