Blessed are the poor, or as Matthew says, "Poor in Spirit." What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Notice that in Luke, the words "in spirit" are not included. Is this, then, speaking only of monetary riches? No!
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3, NKJV
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“ Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
Luke 6:20, NKJV
Perhaps the best way to think of this verse is to think of its opposite. What is the opposite of being poor in spirit? The opposite of being poor in spirit is being filled with pride. It is interesting to note, that pride is often associated with wealth. It is very difficult to have great riches without feeling a sense of false pride in thinking you deserve that wealth, or that you, in your own strength and tenacity, have gained that wealth.
Perhaps that is why Jesus used the word "poor" in this particular beatitude. Though this beatitude is not actually about wealth, or the lack of it, it is necessary for us to think of being poor in our relationship to Christ. After all, Christ, in God, holds all of the wealth of all of the kingdoms of this world, yet He did not come to us with a splendid display of that wealth. Rather, Jesus came to us as a poor person, born in a stable, and raised as the son of a carpenter.
No person looked at Christ and chose to follow Him because He was clothed in rich robes of purple or scarlet. Instead, they saw a poor man, clothed in a common robe of white. Yet, the words He spoke were truly gilded in gold! Those who looked to Christ, and saw themselves as nothing before a great and holy God, were the ones to whom were granted the kingdom of heaven.
We come to Christ today in the same way. Nothing we have and nothing we are means anything before Christ. We come to Him with our guilt and sin, fall at His feet, confessing that sin, and seek His righteousness alone. That is the true nature of being poor in spirit.
The Pharisees loved to display their "righteousness" before men, but their hearts were filled with sin and pride. As such, they did not receive Christ, and are not in His kingdom today!
May we fall before our dear Lord and Savior, knowing that we are nothing, and that we possess nothing in and of ourselves. Our righteousness is the righteousness of Christ! It is He who clothes us and makes us pure and lovely before God.
Our sin nature, which will cling to us all of our days on this earth, will be a constant grief to us. But, as we turn to Christ, He grants us strength and help to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. As we continually seek His face, He will help us to sin less and less and to live more and more for His glory--a process known as sanctification.
True sanctification can only come to those who are poor in spirit! Let us pray, today, that God will humble us, and clothe us in the righteousness of Christ. By His shed blood, He has given us access to our great and holy God. Christ is our all! Only in Him do we have a standing before a pure, and holy God.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
See also the children's devotional entitled, Poor in Spirit.