The lack of spiritual riches and gifts is seen by Scripture as an especially distressing cause of poverty. Awareness of spiritual poverty leads to a turning towards God in order to receive the riches he graciously offers through the good news.
In the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount [Jesus Manifesto], Jesus declares, “Fortunate [Blessed] are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
- What exactly does it mean to be poor in spirit, and why does being poor in spirit result in the kingdom of heaven?
- Why is “poor in spirit” something God wants us to be?
- Why would God want us to be “poor” at anything?
From the human point of view, God chooses the poor instead of the rich.
For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty
(1 Cor. 1:26–27).
The poor of this world become rich in faith; as sons of God, they inherit the wealth of the kingdom.
It is possible to be poor in this world and rich in the next, or rich in this world and poor in the next. Or, you could be poor both in this world and the next, or rich in this world and the next. It all depends on what you do with Jesus the Messiah and the material wealth He has given you. God promises the kingdom to “those that love Him” (James 2:5), not to those who love this world and its riches.
To be poor in spirit is to recognize your utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. It is understanding that you have absolutely nothing of worth to offer God. Being poor in spirit is admitting that, because of your sin, you are completely destitute spiritually and can do nothing to deliver yourself from your dire situation. Jesus is saying that, no matter your status in life, you must recognize your spiritual poverty before you can come to God in faith to receive the salvation He offers.
- James 2:5 (CSB) — 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?
- 2 Corinthians 6:10 (CSB) — 10 as grieving, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet enriching many; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
- Revelation 2:9 (CSB) — 9 I know your affliction and poverty, but you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.