Poor in Spirit

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

Jesus – Matthew 5:3 (NIV)

To be blessed by God is more than just being happy.  To be blessed by God does, indeed, make one happy.  It only makes sense that the created person would desire to please his or her Creator.  Jesus is explicit as He teaches His disciples the pathway to God’s blessing in eight elegant* principles (Matthew 5:3-12).

The first of these eight principles specifies poverty of spirit as the first step towards God’s blessing.  This principle was not a new revelation.  It has always been an essential quality of those who would receive the blessing of God.  Here are just some of the biblical characters who exhibited this quality of brokenness:

  • Abraham (Genesis 18:27)
  • Jacob (Genesis 32:10)
  • Moses (Exodus 3:11; 4:10-12)
  • King David (Psalms 51:17; 1 Chronicles 29:14)
  • King Solomon (1 Kings 3:7)
  • Job (Job 42:5-6)
  • Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5)
  • John the Baptist (John 1:27; 3:30; Luke 7:28; Mark 9:35
  • The Tax Collector (Luke 18:13-14)
  • The Roman Centurion (Luke 7:6-9)
  • Simon Peter (Luke 5:8)
  • The Apostle Paul (Romans 7:18; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; 1 Timothy 1:15-16)

It would be hard to imagine a person exhibiting a proud and haughty spirit when suddenly confronted by God’s immediate, visible presence.  The challenge for us is to maintain that sense of His abiding presence and our own brokenness.


The truth is that before a holy God no one can stand in His presence  because, as Paul stated, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).  The real contrast this first beatitude forces  is between those who acknowledge their brokenness and humble themselves accordingly and those who do not and will not.

For those who seek God’s blessing this first beatitude is fundamental to entrance into the kingdom of God.  It is where God-followers strive to live because it is where we all exist.

*  I use the word ‘elegant’ to describe these beatitudes in the sense of a beautiful cut diamond set upon a black velvet surface to enhance its beauty.