Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt.5:3).” What does Jesus mean when he refers to “the poor in spirit?” From a material point of view, the word “poor” refers to a person who has no possessions or food, and no way of acquiring them. It does not refer to those living under the poverty line, nor does it refer to those who can just barely make ends meet, or those who live on minimum wage. The word is used to describe a state of absolute poverty. A beggar sitting at the side of the road dependant on the generosity of those passing by for his next meal is truly poor. If people do not look upon him with pity and give him money for food, he will die.
In this text, Jesus is calling us to recognize that while we might not be materially poor, we are certainly, spiritually poor. Jesus said, “blessed are the poor in spirit.” The spirit refers to the whole inner life of a human being. It is in our spirits that we experience deep desire; think; rejoice; and experience troubled emotions. The spirit is the source from which our words and deeds flow. It is the totality of the inner self, the entire inner life of a person.
As human beings we need to recognize that spiritually, we are as destitute as a man who sits on the side of the road begging for a few coins to buy some food. We are like a blind man who wants to see, or a deaf man who wants to hear. We are like a mute man who wants to speak, or a terminally ill man who wants to get well. All these people recognize their need, but do not have the personal resources to bring about the desired change. The blind man cannot give himself sight and the deaf man cannot make himself hear. A mute man cannot make himself speak and a terminally ill man cannot make himself well. So it is with all of us. We are spiritually destitute because of the sinfulness of our hearts and we are unable to change our own
condition before God.
Martin Lloyd Jones defined “poor in spirit” this way, “It means a complete absence of pride, a complete absence of self-assurance and self reliance. It means a consciousness that we are nothing in the presence of God. It is nothing that we can produce; it is nothing that we can do in ourselves. It is just this tremendous awareness of our utter nothingness as we come face to face with God. That is to be poor in spirit.” Those who recognize the spiritual destitution of their hearts, are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of God. The spiritually poor man knows he is a sinner. He knows his heart is desperately wicked. He is spiritually blind, in fact he is spiritually dead, and while he wants to see his heart and life changed, he knows that he does not have the resources to bring about that change.
Only those who are poor in spirit will look outside themselves for help, and praise God that He has done what we could not do. Jesus Christ, the Son of God has done what we could not do for ourselves. Because of his sacrifice on the cross he is willing and able to change our hearts and bring new life into our spiritually dead souls. Certainly, when he walked on earth, he healed the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, loosed the tongue of the mute, healed the sick, raised the dead and he is able to heal your sinful heart, bringing life where there was only the stench of death. Do you want to be blessed? Recognize your spiritual poverty before God, look in faith to Jesus Christ as the great physician and the only one who can change your spiritual condition, and you
will inherit the kingdom of God.