The Lord began His great sermon, known as the Sermon on the Mount with these words,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3
With these words Jesus began one of the greatest orations in the history of mankind. There have been many great speeches or sermons given by men, both inspired or non-inspired, that have shaped the course of human history. Great speeches such as the one given at the Gettysburg battlefield in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, or the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill, have inspired men to accomplish great and noble deeds. Yet, even these great speeches pale in comparison to this majestic and beautiful sermon preached by our Savior in Matthew 5:3 through Matthew 7:27.
In His sermon Jesus lays out the foundational principles of His glorious spiritual kingdom. He opens with the first great principle of importance in the life of a child of God’s dependency upon God.
For one to become a child of God they must begin with an honest and good heart, Luke 8:15. One with an honest and good heart recognizes that, of himself, he can do nothing, but must instead rely upon God. If one does not possess this innate knowledge of his own dependency on God, he will never fully submit to God, attempting instead to guide himself through life.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote,
“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” — Jeremiah 10:23
It is not possible to live the life God would have us to live without placing ourselves under His guidance — in humble submission to His Will.
What Does it Mean to be Poor in the Spirit?
The level of man’s dependency upon God is seen in the way the child of God is described as poor in spirit. The word poor, carries the idea of being one who is destitute, or a beggar. Beggars were a common sight in the first century, as there was no welfare system in place. One who was unable to support himself or his family because of some type of disability had no other option but to beg for his daily bread.
He was totally dependent upon the benevolence of others. Likewise, one who would be a child of God also recognizes that he is totally dependent upon the benevolence or grace of God for his spiritual sustenance.
The one who would be a child of God understands that he is a spiritual beggar. It is in the knowledge of our own spiritual poverty and dependence upon God that we find the strength to live the Christian life. This is what Paul meant when he said, ÔÇ£I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.
In another passage he said,
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” — 2 Corinthians 12:10
When we rely upon God’s strength rather than our own, we find that He gives us strength to overcome and endure the heartaches and woes of this earthly life.
Jesus says, “blessed”, or eternally happy, will be those who recognize this dependence upon God for both salvation and guidance.
In What Way will the Poor in Spirit be Blessed?
They will be blessed because “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Those who submit themselves to God will be added to the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is that spiritual body composed of those who are saved. On earth, that kingdom is the church and when the end comes (i.e. the end of the world) Christ shall, deliver “up the kingdom to God.”, 1 Corinthians 15:24.
Those who are in the kingdom, Christians, shall then be blessed to be in the presence of God throughout eternity.