Beatitude 1–Poor in Spirit

By Michael Christian

He Turns Paupers into Princes

Imagine, if you will, the crown prince of a kingdom stepping through the ornate gates of his palace and strolling down the streets of the city until he sees a poor beggar. He stuns those following him by saying, “Do you see this poor beggar? The riches of my palace and of my kingdom belong to him.” A shockwave ripples through his entourage. Sound strange? That’s basically what Jesus did when He spoke the first sentence of the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The Beatitudes Are the BE-Attitudes

The "Beatitudes" are the first eight (or nine) statements Jesus made in that sermon. They show us how to BE in God's presence. After all, serving Him is as much about being as it is about doing. Each statement begins with the word “Blessed.” According to the Amplified Bible, the word "blessed" means "happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of [one's] outward conditions." That sounds pretty good to me, how about you?

The simple, clear directives of the Beatitudes function like a spiritual staircase leading upward into the presence of God. Do you want to ascend? Then let’s walk up this staircase together as we look at each of these eight steps. This isn’t a list of do’s and don’t’s, but eight vital, honest, inner attitudes that cause us to find favor with God.

The Poor in Spirit

  • In truth, all men are poor or lacking in spirit (or Spirit), hindered by their inability to connect with, relate to, and communicate with God. As a result, most of mankind lives under-inspired lives, lacking the constant grace and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, who desires to infuse life and hope and wisdom into our hearts. So to mankind, largely cut off from the life of God for the centuries since the Fall, Jesus offered the Kingdom of God, the life of the Holy Spirit springing up in the heart with truth, and life, and hope, and wisdom.
  • The unknown part of man, the human spirit, is designed as a container for the Spirit of God. God communicates with us through our spirit infilled with His Spirit. The Holy Spirit resides within believers in Jesus as naturally and perfectly as a hand fits in a glove. But to be poor in spirit is to be cut off from the life and Spirit of God, a spiritual orphan, unsure of God, missing something vital in life but never able to identify what it is, having a glove but never having a warm hand within it.
  • So in this one saying God illustrates His sweeping compassion for fallen humanity. To the poor in spirit—the downtrodden, the weak, the inadequate, the spiritually malnourished, the depleted, the exhausted, the dependent, the broken, the humiliated, the divorced, the rejected, the abused, the addicted, the ignorant, the seeker, the questioning, the unworthy, the inferior, the unpretentious, the unfruitful (it's a long list, but you might find yourself somewhere in here)—Jesus gives the Kingdom of Heaven with all its riches, including knowing the King, firsthand, upfront, and personal. This is not something that is going to happen when we all "go to heaven;" it is something that goes on every single day.
  • Jesus speaks here of the "poor in spirit," not the poor economically. A person may be wealthy and well-educated but bankrupt in spirit, not knowing the Lord; and another person may be broke but an heir of the Kingdom of Heaven (and with God's help and their diligence they won't be broke very long).
  • But there is another key element to this. While all mankind is poor in spirit, not all will admit it. As people we pretend to have it all together, when in reality, in our heart of hearts, we know we don't. The Kingdom of Heaven is promised to those willing to learn, to adjust, to grow, to change, but even God cannot help those who maintain their self-sufficiency. But the honest, the humble, the teachable, those open to help will receive the riches of the Prince.

Heirs of the Kingdom

No precious possession on earth can compare to being an heir of the Kingdom of Heaven, with the indwelling Spirit of God dispensing truth, love, acceptance, joy, and peace in the hidden man of the heart. No earthly words can describe the experience of being overshadowed by and immersed into the love of God, our heavenly King, whose presence is real and immediate, now in this life. God’s best is not for those who are great and mighty in their own strength, but for those honest enough to admit they don’t have all the answers and therefore depend on Him for wisdom and strength. The humble set their course for continual improvement in every area and in the world to come will enjoy eternal life.

No Worries

After the prince invited the beggar to join Him inside the gates of his palace, the beggar hesitated. “I’m a beggar. I don’t know how to be a prince. If I go with the prince I may lose touch with my friends in the Society of Beggars. Someone else will take my good spot to beg near the gate of the palace. My family has always been poor. How will I answer them when they accuse me, ‘Who do you think you are?’ ” The prince spoke again, “Those who come with me will never be thrown out on the streets again.” (paraphrase of John 6:37) With those reassuring words in his ears, the beggar arose and followed the prince into the palace.

He Looked Pretty Normal

We all know that when Jesus came to earth, He didn’t come dressed like the crown prince of Heaven but came disguised as a baby. He laid aside His cool, glowing, Son-of-God clothes and appeared completely normal in diapers, and most everyone thought He was a mere man…until He became of age and opened His mouth. He was fully man, but when He spoke, He spoke like God. No man ever spoke like Jesus did. (John 7:46)

The Kingdom of God Is for Everyone

Do you want to ascend? Then be honest with yourself and acknowledge your spiritual poverty before the Lord. Humility is a winning attitude. We have to go lower before we can go higher. If you are willing, the rich inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven will belong to you.

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