By Robert Thomas
In Matthew chapter 5, we read the beginning of Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus teaches many things that contradict the world’s teaching, but reveal the type of life that God desires for His people. Instead of using worldly ways of thinking and behaving, Jesus encourages us to abandon what the world thinks, and counteract it with spiritual truths. Jesus begins this teaching with this thought: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
These words are part of the very core of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus isn’t talking about being physically poor, He’s referring to the state of our souls.
To be blessed, which could also be translated “happy”, or “fortunate”, is a benefit to the one who is poor in spirit. Although each person is spiritually dead inside because of their sin, Jesus still encourages His followers not just to be poor in spirit, but to acknowledge they are poor in spirit.
To live like we’re poor in spirit, we must first acknowledge our need before the Lord.
Instead of trying to be self-sufficient and solve our spiritual problems on our own, we must recognize our utterly desperate spiritual bankruptcy and come to Christ in humility, begging for forgiveness from our sins. To be a follower of Christ whatsoever, we must conclude that without Jesus, we are dead inside and have no hope of ever saving ourselves. Spiritual poverty is deeply rooted in the very Gospel itself – humanity is lost and in desperate need without a Savior, and Jesus came and died to pay the price for our sins. Since the price is paid, we can come to Jesus in belief and repentance and receive eternal life.
Living like we’re poor in spirit isn’t something only new believers have to worry about, because the Lord has always wanted His people to depend on Him for their every need. Belief in Jesus as Lord and confession of our sins isn’t just a place to start, it’s a model that should color every day of our lives. Throughout the Bible we are reminded that we should come before the Lord daily to confess our deep continual need, but probably the best example of this is the way Jesus lived his life. He would often go off by Himself to seek sustenance and guidance from the Lord, and He taught His disciples to pray each day for their daily bread from the Lord.
In our lives today, we cannot afford to forget our spiritual poverty, and we cannot escape the fact that without the Holy Spirit and the words of God constantly pouring into our lives, we are spiritually destitute.
We cannot ever reach a state of self-sufficiency in our walks with the Lord; we cannot ever become spiritual enough that we eliminate the need to consistently return to His presence to be filled. But take heart! The Bible promises that the mercies of the Lord are new every morning, and in His presence we find our true fulfillment and joy.
Pattern your life after Jesus, and live like He did. Live poor in spirit, because Jesus tells us that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.