blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Matthew 5:1-3 (ESV)

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

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

So what does it mean to be poor in spirit?

Does it literally mean poor? Penniless? Destitute?

Is Jesus not talking about a spiritual state here rather than a temporal one?

I imagine He is telling them that those who inherit the kingdom of heaven need to be humble. Empty of pride. Devoid of haughtiness.

If we are to receive God’s forgiveness then this makes perfect sense.

For it is when we acknowledge our failings before Christ – our sinfulness and rejection of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ – that we can then receive the many “blessings” of God.

Like David in Psalm 51, we need to come before our maker, asking for a “clean heart”.

We need to heed the words of Jesus and “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

It is through this simple action that our relationship with the author and sustainer of life can be restored.

Yet ironically this restitution is not the result of our own efforts, so that we cannot “boast”, but through God’s saving grace (2 Corinthians 10:17).

For lauding our cleverness and spiritual insight is the antithesis of humility. And that is essentially what’s at the heart of this passage.


prayer : help me not to be proud or boastful LORD but instead contrite and humble

action : practice humility and “boast in the cross” (Galatians 6:14)

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