“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Thus begins the familiar teaching usually referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Great multitudes had been following the Savior, and He went up into a mountain and positioned Himself to teach the disciples. He commenced this timeless teaching by giving us seven characteristics, each of which begins with the word “Blessed.” These verses give us further insight to the life of THE BLESSED MAN as defined by God.
The first quality Jesus identified was being “poor in spirit.” How contrary this teaching is to the natural mind! Most people do not think of prosperity, blessing, or happiness being accompanied by poverty of any kind. Here again, Jesus is not teaching about being financially destitute, but “poor in spirit.” The blessed man is spiritually bankrupt. He is fully aware of his own inadequacies and completely depends on the grace and power of God.
In so many ways, this profound truth is the key that opens the door to the true Christian experience. The BLESSED MAN is the humble man. The road to blessing is paved with a sense of one’s own insufficiency and unworthiness. The phrase “poor in spirit” speaks of spiritual poverty. One cannot come to Christ and receive salvation without the awareness of his own utter helplessness. The number of people who are in some way or another trusting in some personal merit to get them to Heaven never ceases to amaze us. It takes the Word of God and the Spirit of God to show us how utterly depraved we are. Mankind is not spiritually sick, he is dead in his sins.
Our culture resists this kind of teaching, preferring instead to elevate man’s self-worth and esteem. Pulpits are growing silent when it comes to preaching the absolute sinfulness of man’s human nature. Is it any wonder that more people aren’t being converted and more of God’s people aren’t progressing spiritually? The first step toward God is an understanding of our hopelessness. Of the “poor in spirit,” Jesus said, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is not to the mighty nor to the naturally equipped. It is not to the domineering nor to the profound thinker. It is not to the gifted nor to the eloquent, to the brilliant or the wealthy, to the popular or the entertaining. It is to the “poor in spirit.”