Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
There is a distinct difference between being worthless and being lacking in self-sufficiency. The former is indicative that we have no value, we have no worth. But that is not true in God’s eyes for we are of utmost value to him. The latter is referring to our spiritual bankruptcy apart from divine grace, our absolute inability to offer something, anything of worth to our Holy God because of the sinfulness that consumes our hearts. To be poor in spirit is the recognition of our empty-handed presence before the throne of grace. A rendering of this verse is this – “Blessed are those who realize that they have nothing within themselves to commend them to God, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s only those who realize that they can’t get to heaven on their own that have any hope of getting there at all. (John Wesley)
The Beatitudes of the Lord Jesus Christ is the very antithesis, the exact opposite, of what this world believes. “They demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness. However, the Beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith.” (John Piper) To walk with Christ is to blatantly stand against the world.
Faith saves, but deep rooted and sincere humility is the very posture of faith. We’ll not go to a doctor if we don’t realize that there is something wrong. In the very same way, if we don’t realize the severity of our sins, the urgency for a Savior, we will not recognize the necessity for salvation in Jesus Christ.
“It is our weakness that is the reservoir for God’s power. It is our inadequacy that is the place for His adequacy; our poverty that is exchanged for His riches; our humility that gives way for His confidence and authority; and ultimately, our emptiness and nothingness that gives way for His fullness. (David Legge)” [2 Corinthians 12:9-10 / Luke 18:10-14]
“The first link between my soul and Christ is not my goodness but my wickedness; not my merit but my misery; not my standing but my failing.” What a paradox! And what an amazing God to have shown us mercy and grace in light of our spiritual bankruptcy!
Returning to the Gospel. Our depravity before God is the very essence of what makes the Gospel so urgent yet precious. If we are indeed inadequate to offer anything that is of worth or value to God, what is it then that makes us worth so much in His eyes… It is first, a Creator’s love for his creation. Yet when sin divided an unholy creation from its holy and righteous God, it was only through Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross that justifies and redeems our souls. As we stand before God’s throne, he sees not a condemned sinner, rather he sees Christ before us, through whom we are made righteous. He sees Christ interceding on our behalf as his sacrifice on the cross was not one of fading hope but one of demonstrated power and authority and one that ultimately brings us reconciliation with our wrathful and sovereign King. It is not by anything we have done for God to have redeemed us, but it is only through the heavy price that was already paid on the cross for our sake and in our place. We are completely and utterly depraved, yet in Christ we have everything. With this truth reigning in our hearts, it is truly humbling to acknowledge the abundant mercies of divine grace in light of our empty-handedness. Let us Rejoice, for we do indeed have a wonderful Lord & Savior!