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To Be Poor in Spirit Like Jesus

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

When Jesus announced that those who are poor in spirit would inherit God’s Kingdom, He did not mean those who are self-confident, self-assured and self-reliant. In fact, to be poor in spirit is the antithesis of this.

Being poor in spirit is not very much in vogue. We are driven by media and marketing to be anything but poor in spirit. The man or woman who knows who they are and where they are going, who is in control and independently capable and confident is the one who is to be admired. This is the philosophy on which our western world is run. Believe in yourself, realize the powers that are innate in yourself and express yourself unashamedly with confidence and determination.

Perhaps we could go so far as to say that this ‘put yourself out there’ attitude has not just sneaked into the Church today but is running rampant. Over-confidence in self and the skills we have been blessed with seem to take priority. Preachers are self-made orators who use their abilities to persuade, deceive, and divide their sheepfolds into factions. Churches put themselves out there, through various persuasive marketing means, jostling for attendees and building congregational numbers. Unfortunately, the Church of our LORD is allowing the popular methodologies of the world to influence and control her outlook and life.

Paul’s poignant words are reverberating as I consider this tragedy and begin to give us some clue as to the meaning of being poor in spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the LORD; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

When he went to Corinth, he says, he went ‘in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling’ (1 Corinthians 2:3). He did not preach before the Corinthian church with confidence and assurance in his own abilities, nor give the impression of having a dynamic and charismatic personality. Rather, the people said of him that ‘His appearance is weak and his speech contemptible.’ (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Paul was a humble man, but being poor in spirit goes beyond this virtue. It is to have the correct attitude before the face of God. It was in the spirit of a man like Gideon, who, when the LORD sent an angel to him to tell him the great thing he was to do, said ‘Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ (Judges 6:15). It was in the spirit of Moses, who felt deeply unworthy of the role that was laid upon him and was painfully aware of his own insufficiency and inadequacy. He said, ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ (Exodus 3:11). We find it in the centurion when he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.’ (Matthew 8:8). And we find this same spirit in Peter, when he saw Jesus as His LORD and said ‘Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ (Luke 5:8). In each case, feeling insufficient and humble in heart before the face of God is synonymous with being poor in spirit.

To be poor in spirit means to have a complete absence of pride, of self-assurance and self-reliance. It means we have a consciousness that we are nothing before God. It is not something we can conjure up ourselves. It is entirely the LORD’s work in us. He brings us to look upon Him with utter dependence and reliance, knowing that our sufficiency for all of life comes totally from Him.

You may be asking, ‘How then does one become poor in spirit?’ We must not succumb to looking inward and beginning to do things ourselves. Rather the way to become poor in spirit is to look to God. Read His Book, contemplate His ways and ask for the courage and conviction to obey them. Study Jesus in the Gospels.

Wonder and gaze upon His goodness. Note His humility and deep love for the Father. Ask the LORD to help us see the majesty of Jesus and to nourish a spiritual hunger and humility within our hearts so that we too will become more like Jesus. Contemplate standing before the LORD Jesus and allow our hearts to be softened by that experience. The more we look at Jesus, the more inadequate we shall feel in ourselves and the more poor in spirit we shall become.

Heavenly Father, becoming poor in spirit is truly Your Spirit’s holy and wondrous work in me. There is nothing I can do in my weakness and insufficiency to make me poor in spirit. LORD, I submit myself fully to You. I want to gaze upon the grandeur and majesty of Jesus, to be humbled by His example and words in the gospel stories. To learn of Him, to become like Him, to be poor in spirit. Help me for the sake of Your dear Son, Jesus. Amen.”

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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One comment

  1. Good message dear friend.
    Thank you for the reminder.
    God Bless~

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