Daily Gospel Reflection
ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT
are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew
5:3). This idea, along with so many others in the Bible, seems so foreign
to the modern mind. How can poverty in any form be good?
This is especially true when we understand that the word here for blessed
literally means, "happy, supremely blessed." How can we be poor and still
SOME MISCONCEPTIONS CONCERNING THIS PASSAGE
A. Some equate physical poverty with being
pleasing to the Lord.
There is no special righteousness in being poor,
neither is there a special sinfulness in the possessing of riches.
While it is often easier for the poor (because
of their lack of being fettered by the cares of the world that comes
from wealth) to be saved than the rich, it is certain that there will
be rich who dwell in Heaven and poor who will dwell in the depths of
B. Some believe that a false modesty and
self-abasement are the fulfillment of being poor in spirit.
Jesus never recommended monasticism (i.e., the
complete abasement of the human body and retreat from society). In
fact Jesus contrasted the practices of Him and His disciples with that
Matthew 11:18,19 - "For John came neither
eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man
came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and
a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is
justified of her children."
2. The Bible tells us that we are to be part of
society, although we are to be different from the sinfulness of the
John 17:14, 15 - "I have given them thy word;
and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take
them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the
1 Corinthians 5:9,10 - "I wrote unto you in an
epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the
fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or
with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world."
We also can become conceited in our humility
that we become "humble and proud of it."
The Lord is also not talking about those who
would mentally flagellate themselves and have a "poor me" attitude.
Christianity is a positive religion that declares, "with God for us we
will be victorious.
Romans 8:31 - "What shall we then say to these
things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things
through Christ which strengtheneth me."
II. WHAT THEN DOES IT MEAN TO BE "POOR IN SPIRIT?"
A. It is a person that has spiritual poverty.
This the person who realizes that he or she
cannot save themselves, that they are without an ability to glorify
The spiritually poor have a keen sense of their
own sinfulness and need for God's grace.
"This poverty of spirit is a prerequisite to
acquiring the other beatitudes. Spiritual beggars who have abandoned
pride and self-sufficiency and who rely totally on God for support are
in a position to inculcate the mournful, meek, hungry, merciful, pure,
and peaceful disposition suggested by the other beatitudes" (1988
Spiritual Sword Lectures).
B. Some examples of this kind of personality in
the Word of God.
Luke 18:13 - "And the publican, standing afar
off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon
his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."
The attitude of Gideon.
Judges 6:15 - "And he said unto him, 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."
The attitude of Isaiah.
Isaiah 6:5 - "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am
undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst
of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the
LORD of hosts."
The Lord displayed this attitude while here on
John 5:30 -"I can of mine own self do nothing:
as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine
own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
John 14:10 - "Believest thou not that I am in
the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I
speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth
It was the thinking of the apostle Paul.
Philippians 3:8 - "Yea doubtless, and I count
all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ
Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and
do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"
It was the way of thinking of the apostle
Luke 5:8 - "When Simon Peter saw it, he fell
down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man,
C. We can gain an even more thorough understanding
of what the Lord is telling us by look at some negative examples.
Look at the same example that we first cited,
the publican. He is contrasted with a Pharisee. Read what the pharisee
said and Jesus' commentary of both of them.
Luke 18:11-12, 14 - "The Pharisee stood and
prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other
men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess . .
. I tell you, this man (the publican) went down to his house
justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself
shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 12:16-20 (the rich farmer)
Daniel 4:30-31 "The king spake, and said, Is
not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the
kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from
heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The
kingdom is departed from thee."
III. WHAT IS THE GREAT REWARD FOR THE POOR IN SPIRIT? "THEIRS IS THE
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."
A. They possess the qualities that are
prerequisites for membership in Christ's kingdom, the church.
Matthew 18:3-4 "And said, Verily I say unto you,
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not
enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble
himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of
It takes an attitude of complete spiritual
poverty to accept God's plan of salvation.
B. These will inherit that eternal kingdom as
James 4:6 "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore
he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."
Those who are prideful and self-sufficient could
never hope to enjoy the blessings of Heaven. They would never accept
that they were sinners in need of a savior, never accept the need to
obey God in God's way, and never accept the fact that without God they
could do nothing. Thus, they will never enjoy a Heaven filled with
sinners cleansed by the blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5).
"What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it
creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God". It
is only through the humility of spiritual poverty that we can draw close
to God and truly enjoy life as He wants us to.