Blessed are the Poor in Spirit (Part 1)
In the Sermon on the Mount and in the following chapters (Matthew 5-7) Jesus shows us what kind of people we have to be in order to have a portion in the kingdom of God. With our own nature, we cannot be partakers of God’s kingdom. We need Christ’s nature as it is described in the constitution of the kingdom in Matthew 5-7. To become a child of God, there are no prerequisites. A believer simply has to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again on the third day. Baptism then follows. More cannot and must not be done to be saved. But for us to become heirs of God’s kingdom, God’s nature must become our nature. God will not give us His kingdom as an inheritance unless we are conformed to His nature (Galatians 4:1).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
Many of us Christians are hungry and eager for more of Christ at the beginning of our Christian life. We read much in the Bible and use every opportunity for fellowship with other Christians. We have many fresh experiences with the Lord. Unfortunately, this hunger and desire for Christ often diminishes over time. Other things such as work, family or hobbies gain more importance and gradually replace our hunger for Christ. Our experiences of Christ also diminish, even if the knowledge concerning the Word of God continues to increase. By reading Christian literature and attending Bible studies, we can indeed accumulate a lot of knowledge and interpretations regarding the Word of God. But, we then often fail to realize that the Lord has hardly been able to change anything in our own being. The mere knowledge of the Word of God often hides the fact that living experiences of the Lord and real changes in our being are very limited – or even completely absent.
The State of Fullness and Contentment
When Jesus came to earth, His people were in such a condition. The Pharisees and scribes were full of knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. But, they were devoid of experiences and of the reality of the nature of God. Jesus said to them: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25) When Jesus came, He wanted to bring them the nature of God through Himself, His own being. But, they had no need of Him. They were full and their hearts had become fat (Acts 28:27). No one could tell them anything. They could no longer accept any admonition or rebuke from Jesus but were offended and hardened their hearts. In the end, they misled the people and killed the Messiah.
The situation was quite different when it came to the simple fishermen, sinners and tax collectors. They realized how great their need for Christ was. They were hungry and thirsty to experience Christ. Therefore, they were able to accept salvation in Jesus and, in the end, become people who expressed the nature of God in their lives and became foundations in God’s kingdom.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Hungry for the Life of Christ
In order for all the characteristics which Jesus shows us in Matthew 5-7 to become our reality, we need to be poor in spirit. If we do not recognize how much we are lacking Christ’s life, we will not be able to gain Him. This is why the Lord says this at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. We need this in order to experience Christ in all His other characteristics. Paul was one who was poor in spirit. We see this in Philippians 3:12:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
Paul had a lot of knowledge. He had been a scribe and had studied the Scriptures from his youth. He knew the Word better than anyone else. But, he realized that mere knowledge only puffs up and makes us proud.
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)
Paul was not satisfied with the knowledge. No, he longed for Christ to become his life and was willing to pay any price. He wrestled for Christ to be formed in him. This is what it means to be poor in spirit.
Let us repent and lay aside all our fullness and contentment! It is important for Christ to show us our lack today. We still need so much more of God’s nature and should never stop gaining the Lord. The more we gain His nature, the more we will recognize how much we need the reality of Christ
More in Part 2…