The First Beatitude

When Jesus started His Sermon on the Mount, He listed eight beatitudes. These were the blessings that Jesus promised to those who would follow Him. Do you recall what was the first beatitude that He listed? He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 NKJV)

So much controversy has swirled around this phrase “the poor in spirit.” I heard one minister say that Jesus certainly wasn’t poor in spirit. Others have linked it to the condition of a person before they knew Christ.  Surely those who know Christ are not poor in spirit. We like to think that if we know Christ we must be rich in spirit. To be honest, most of us don’t like that phrase at all. No one wants to be poor in spirit!

In all the years I have served the Lord, I have never understood this statement. I have also never heard a satisfactory explanation of what it means. Recently I puzzled over these words, so I asked the Holy Spirit what it meant. He is my teacher, therefore I ask Him about everything I don’t understand. He opens up the eyes of my understanding. I should have done this long ago!

The Holy Spirit showed me that those who are poor in spirit come before God completely empty of their own abilities or resources. This is a person who has a contrite spirit, someone who knows that he or she has nothing apart from God. It is a position of complete humility before Him! Jesus said that those who are poor in spirit are blessed, because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. In other words, all the resources of Heaven are at their disposal. Isn’t that amazing?

It is displeasing to God when we are self-satisfied and full of ourselves. When people are self-reliant and seem to have everything, they think they don’t need God. Jesus rebuked the saints at the Church of Laodicea, because they had this attitude in their hearts.  He said:

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked ” (see Revelation 3:15-17 NKJV)

This is a vivid description of who we are without Christ. Please also understand that Jesus spoke these words in great love, because He wanted them to have a change of heart and repent of this attitude.  He wanted them to be poor in spirit. This means that He wanted them to come before Him and say, “Lord, I have nothing apart from You. You are my wealth. You are my righteousness. You are my holiness. I cannot do anything apart from you.” That is what it means to be poor in spirit. That is the kind of saint that God is looking for – someone who is contrite and humble!

The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’ ” (Isaiah 57:15 NKJV)

The Lord also said through Isaiah:

“But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2 NKJV)

God has made some of His saints around the world extremely wealthy. I have heard that these same people fall on their faces every day and cry out to God, because they know they are nothing without Him. This is the kind of saint that pleases God, whether he is wealthy or has nothing. God wants him or her to be utterly dependent upon Him. He wants them to see themselves as paupers without Him, but rich in Christ. The Apostle James put it this way:

“Listen, my beloved brethren: has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 3:5 NKJV)

James then instructed the readers to accept the poor and rich alike. They are both equal in God’s eyes. Their wealth is in Him.  Both of them have become heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. This means that God does not want us to despise the poor or the wealthy.

Finally, we need to understand that God alone is our source. He alone is our wealth. He is our righteousness, our holiness and our goodness. We have nothing apart from Him, and we cannot do anything without Him. He is our all in all!

This is a blessed position to be in. This is the place where we see God do mighty miracles, and give us wonderful answers to prayer. Why? It is because we have now become utterly dependent upon Him for everything.

You are holy, dear saint!

Steve Smith

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, published by Thomas Nelson Inc.]


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