poor in spirit

Beatitude One

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


Charles Spurgeon once said, “A ladder, if it is to be of any use, must have its first step near the ground, or feeble climbers will never be able to climb. It would have been a grievous discouragement to struggling faith if the first blessing had been given to the pure in heart–to that excellence the young beginner makes no claim–while to poverty of spirit he can reach without going beyond his line!”

Well, if we ever want to climb the ladder of spiritual abundance, everyone must begin here. No man ever mourns before God until he is poor in spirit! Neither does he become meek towards others till he has humble views of himself. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness are not possible to those who have high views of their own excellence–and mercy to those who offend is also a Grace, difficult for those who are unconscious of their own spiritual need. Poverty in spirit is the first step to blessedness.

The word “blessedness” also means “happy.” So, we read, “Happy are the poor in spirit.” Could one possibly imagine happiness coming through poverty? But this is true. This is the true happiness–heavenly. But many cannot receive it, because they are just so full of the earthly; a happiness that is no real happiness, that shifts likes shadow and is temporal.

Strong defines poor in spirit as: lowly, destitute–poor enough to need help from others. That’s the point–poor enough to lean, poor enough to turn and ask, poor enough to seek, poor enough to knock, just poor enough to stoop low. Think of a beggar, deprived of substance, who suppresses all fear and shame to stretch out his hand and beg; because he knows he is in want. God fills the empty vessels; a soul who realizes his own emptiness and is not ashamed to cry out to God.

We have read the story of a tax collector and a Pharisee; the tax collector went home justified, because he realized, how full he was of sin, of treachery, of malice, of his own ways. He realized the poverty of his soul. He realized how poor his soul was to righteousness. How poor he was unto God. He sought for justification that comes from God. He cried unto God who could impute righteousness to him, and we read the good news “he went home was justified”, hallelujah! He must be overflowing with the riches of joy, peace and happiness, as he went back home that day.

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ (Luke 18:9-14)

While on the other side, the story was different. The Pharisee was just full of himself, he was obsessed with himself. Infact, he was right when he said, he was unlike the robbers, extortioners and even the tax collector; for if he was really like them, he would still have some hope. No wonder Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matt 21:31)

True happiness, blessedness, comes from the Lord to those that are poor in spirit; souls who are poor enough to need help from God. Man’s biggest enemy is himself. Our ‘self’ is what hinders us to receive from the Lord. Before we can be filled, we must empty ourselves and create room for God. God wants to fill us with spiritual abundance, but can He find an empty space? Poor in the spirit is the first step of the ladder to spiritual abundance.

O’ LORD, help us to empty ourselves of Self-sufficiency and trust in God-sufficiency. Amen.