MATTHEW 5:3 (ESV)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus Christ begins “the Beatitudes” with a phrase that is confusing because (when one thinks long and hard) the words are confusing because they are not clear and are honestly an odd way to express what He means. Perhaps that is the point… to get us to think long and hard and to pray.
The phrase in verse 3 “destitute of spirit” fits a little better. This type of person recognizes how poor we are in terms of God and there is a demonstrative recognition of the state of our soul. Someone who is “poor in spirit” is utterly dependent on God and belongs to Him.
They call on God.
They are His.
They belong to Him and they know there is nothing in them that can reach Him.
Those people who recognize that for their soul it is “God or nothing.” Such souls surrendered to God inherit His kingdom.
In terms of images, we apply to this verse, we often see open hands, dirty hands, and people bowing in prayer. To be honest, dirty hands have nothing to do with it. Matthew 5:3 does not mean ‘God loves the dirty poor people and He will bless them.’ This emphasis on material ‘poorness’ is completely wrong. Jesus is speaking about something deeper than surface poorness with material things. We are looking soul deep in terms of righteousness and repentance.
A great example of being “poor in spirit” is King David in 2 Samuel 24:24 who exclaims that he will not sacrifice to God something that “costs me nothing.”
The best example of being “poor in spirit” is Jesus of Nazareth in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18). He is poor in spirit because the world is against Him and He is turning to God physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Jesus recognizes His position as a human being before God. He is righteous. We need to realize that with Jesus as the ultimate example, “dirty poor” is emphasizing the “poorness” of the phrase in a poor manner. It doesn’t say a “dirty spirit.”
Jesus is humble.
Jesus does not go to the world.
Jesus goes to God the Father.
Not My will but Your will.
Anyone who truly worships and is dependent on God imitates Jesus and so is “poor in spirit.” We can imitate Jesus of Nazareth as we take in all that He teaches in the beatitudes. It starts with our position before God. We are poor in our position before God. We are a yielded vessel that can be used by Him and for Him.
This is a choice we make as we enter into a relationship with God. We can sell out and keep our ego. We can be “rich in spirit” in ourselves. Jesus commands and teaches us not to do this as we compare ourselves to the God of the Universe Whose footstool is the Earth. We do not compare.