“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
What an odd (and often mis-quoted) phrase this is, “poor in spirit.” What does it mean?
My parents were white-collar workers. One was an ammunition inspector/instructor for the Army, and the other was a nurse/educator. Neither of them was afraid to get their hands dirty, or to learn how to do tasks they weren’t familiar with. For instance, my dad taught himself how to add a room onto a house, complete with plumbing and electricity. And my mom wrote four books, researched her family back to the 1400s, and earned a master’s degree before I was born: something women of the time simply did not do. They worked as hard or harder than any factory or line worker I’ve ever met, and they never got rich doing it. They were often “Sunday Christians,” but they also were honestly thankful to God for what He provided because they couldn’t. They were poor in spirit.
Or there was the time in Africa when I was part of a group that opened a new church. Our little mission team traveled to a small village in Uganda, to help finish building and furnishing, then dedicating, a new church building. I’d never been to Nakabango before, and may never go back again, but I’ve never felt closer to God. The building was no cathedral, and it wasn’t ornate or opulent. But the Spirit filled it. Hundreds of destitute villagers congregated to hold a dedication service for this new building. As we walked through the front door, singing hand-in-hand, I thought, “this must be what heaven feels like.” I was privileged to be among folks who were all in need of wealth, but whose souls knew their even more desperate need to God.
They were poor in spirit.
And there was the caregiver I picked up on a Lyft ride last week. She had little money, and we talked for an hour (because her destination was far) about how much she relied on God, who had never let her down. Who always provided everything she needed. Who gave her a job, and health, and a place to live, and a trade, and friends. She who was lowly and thankful was, you guessed it, so very poor in spirit.
When we are poor in spirit, we realize that we can’t make it in this broken world without God. We humbly, desperately need Him because even our best efforts just can’t succeed without Him. When we realize that Jesus is more than enough, we may shrink in worldly stature but we grow in the Lord. He who is more, lifts our bowed heads, and says, “I love you. I died for you.” Blessed are they, and we, who are poor in spirit for Jesus gives us His kingdom.
For more reading: Luke 6:20, Matthew 5:4
Lord, you bless me in loving me. Help me to always be poor in spirit.