Who is Poor in Spirit?
The sermon on the mount has not only impacted the Christians alone but secular leaders like M.K Gandhi as well. I remember as a young boy, I asked one of the elders as to how I could live a Christian life? He simply said, try to live by the sermon on the mount. Indeed, the teachings of Jesus are very profound yet practical to live by.
In Matthew 5:3 Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The word “poor” literally means lacking sufficient money/means to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society. Therefore, the question arises is whether Jesus is talking about poverty in a materialistic sense, or does he mean something else. In Ps. 34:6, the psalmist designates himself, ‘this poor man’ who cried to God in his need, ‘and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all troubles’. The poor man in the Old Testament is the one who is both afflicted and unable to save himself, and who therefore, looks to God for salvation while recognizing that he has no claim upon himself. The ‘poor’ are also described as people with ‘a contrite and humble spirit’; to them, God looks and with them he is pleased to dwell (Ish. 57:15; 66:1, 2).
It is to such that the Lord’s anointed would proclaim good tidings of salvation, a prophecy which Jesus consciously fulfilled by preaching the good news to the poor. Because the rich tended to compromise with surrounding heathenism; it was the poor who remained faithful to God. So, wealth and worldliness, poverty and godliness went together.
Today, being poor in spirit is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, our spiritual bankruptcy, before God. We are all sinners, under the holy wrath of God, and deserving nothing but the judgement of God. We have nothing to offer, nothing to plead, nothing with which to buy the favour of heaven.
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress; Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
This is the language of the poor in spirit. It reminds unless we humble ourselves and acknowledge the need of God and His salvation, our Christian life will never progress. As C.H. Spurgeon expressed, “The way to rise in the kingdom is to sink in ourselves.’
Rev. Ashish Hirday