How can being poor in spirit be a good thing?


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I recently discovered the unexpected connection between joy and being poor in spirit. When Jesus began what is called the Beatitudes in His “Sermon on the Mount,” He started with a surprising statement: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Aren’t we supposed to be strong in spirit? Aren’t we more than conquerors? Doesn’t joy come from victory? And how is being poor in spirit a qualification for entrance into the kingdom of heaven? Understanding what it’s really all about has everything to do with our willingness to ask, or more accurately, beg. This gets to the heart of the issue since none of us wants to be in the position of a beggar. Our pride will not allow it.

It begins with a simple request to be made more like Christ. We don’t really know what this means or what will be required, but we know the process is necessary. Making this request is the easy part. We have heard the gospel and responded to Christ’s invitation. We have learned that we have become a new creation and all sorts of wonderful things have happened to us, but we don’t yet understand them. Consequently, most Christians have drawn faulty conclusions that have kept them in bondage all their lives.

God must step in and begin a process that will clarify our confusion and bring light to our darkness—a darkness we don’t even realize exists. For us to comprehend the reality of whom we have become in Christ, we must be brought to the place where we see the truth about ourselves. As long as we think we’re a good person who simply needs some help from God, we’re of no use to Him. He must reduce us to nothing. He must strip away every ounce of self-sufficiency, bringing us to the place where He is all we have left. He wants us to realize that He is all we need, but first we must be brought so low that He’s all we have.


I am writing all this from personal experience. For me, this isn’t just another topic for an article. I am living through the glorious overflowing joy of coming out the other side of this to see the magnitude of what has really happened to me. I have lived through the poor in spirit part. It’s being brought to the place of an impoverished beggar who has learned what real asking is all about-not asking with some blessing or end result in mind but begging out of my abject pangs of spiritual poverty-having had all my self-sufficiency and pride stripped away.

Only then could I see the truth of Romans 3 which describes the human race I was born into-a sickening list of disgusting attitudes and actions that described me. I was included in this list in verses 10 through 18. Read them for yourselves. Meditate on them. Force yourself to realize that this section is a description of what is in every single human being. It describes us apart from what God has done in us.

This is what becoming poor in spirit is about. It’s about feeling so bad about who we are apart from Christ that we cry out for His mercy and grace. Our poverty leads us to the place where we are finally ready to submit to Christ’s lordship. Are you tired of the frustrating and futile battle to become a better Christian? If so, I hope Galatians 2:20 is finally starting to make sense. You were crucified with Christ. When He died, you died. When He was buried, so were you. When He was raised to newness of life, so were you. The old life wasn’t worth salvaging. It had to be destroyed and replaced with something better, much better. Man’s own righteousness was like filthy rags. It could never be made better.

God’s solution was to give His own righteousness to those who had received His Son, Jesus. When the believer’s “old man” (along with his supposed righteousness) died, God replaced it with the life of His own Son. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus would become the only life inside His children. He would utilize the body, soul and spirit of the believer, but the life, the controlling power, would be His.

When people “receive Jesus,” they receive His life, His mind, His faith, and His righteousness. He is the true identity of the believer, but Satan, the master deceived, is adept at convincing God’s children that they are still very much alive, when, in fact they no longer exist. It is now Christ who lives in them. This is how being poor in spirit makes you fit to enter the kingdom of God and brings the unquenchable joy we’ve always desired:


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