Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” — Matthew 5:3 (CSB)
Of all the ways for Jesus to begin this mountain top speech, this may have been the most shocking. “Blessed are the poor?”, the listeners would be asking. “Blessed are the rich makes a lot more sense to me!” For all of the cultural changes that have occurred throughout the centuries, one thought has always been consistent — If you are poor, than you are not blessed at all!
And yet, that is exactly where Jesus begins this speech. It is also where Jesus expects us to begin in order to obtain entrance into His kingdom. However, He is not talking about being poor in wealth, Jesus says blessed are those who are poor in their spirit. This is definitely an idea that needs to be explored further. How can one be poor in spirit?
Take King David as an example. And in particular, take the David that we read about in 2 Samuel 11. That David was not poor in spirit. That David was arrogant, entitled, and puffed up. He demonstrates this by his refusal to go out to battle with the other kings (much like he did in chapters 8 & 10), he was waking up in the evenings, and last of all — he took the wife of one of his mighty men as his own and committed adultery. To further his “puffed up” spirit, David proceeded to do what he could to cover up his sin by having Uriah (the husband of Bathsheba) killed. After this, he married Bathsheba, which would have made him look like a hero in the story! At no point in chapter 11 is there any humility in David’s spirit, but only pride and entitlement.
But the David we read about in 2 Samuel 12 is a different David. Once David is confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin, David is no longer puffed up. Instead, he humbles himself before his God. Regarding this time in his life, David writes in Psalm 51:17:
“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.”
Once David humbled himself, he makes a very good observation: God does not want us to continue in arrogant willful sin, he wants us to humble our hearts and give him our broken spirits. This is where God is able to work with us best, when we have humbled ourselves and opened our hearts to the need for change.
So it is natural that Jesus begins here. If you want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must start by recognizing how broken in your spirit you are from the sin you have committed. Jesus can make your spirit whole, but you must be willing to listen to Him.