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Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Poor in spirit” speaks of understanding our true predicament and need for a Savior. This results in a true humility that originates from a correct perspective of our position with relation to God’s holiness. What effect does true humility have on us?

A right knowledge of ourselves

  • We are incapable of living up to God’s standard
    • Romans 8:7-8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    • Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
  • We deceive ourselves into thinking we can please God and do right apart from Him
    • Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.
    • Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
    • Ephesians 2:1-2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience
  • We will have the fear of the Lord which produces righteousness
    • Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    • Job 28:28 And to man He said,‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”
    • Isaiah 33:6 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure.
        • What is the fear of the Lord?
          • Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way; And the perverse mouth I hate.
          • 1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
          • Psalm 11:7 For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.

A right knowledge of Christ

  • When we see ourselves correctly, then we seek to see Jesus correctly because He is our only Hope. We will seek the true way of salvation knowing that it is impossible in our effort. Christ Alone! Our hope, our joy, our security, our eternity!
  • Correctly understanding to the best of our finite ability what Christ did, who Christ was, what Christ sacrificed, what He accomplished, will only cultivate our humility. Our futile efforts to please God in our own strength pale and diminish with our growing knowledge of Christ’s sufficiency.
  • A right knowledge of Christ leads to a right knowledge of attitude, a right knowledge of worship, and a right knowledge of our dependence on Him.

What does “poor in spirit” NOT mean?

  • An outward appearance of “sadness” or “humility” for all to see
    • Jesus was not speaking of a false face of humility. He had scalded the Pharisees for this hypocrisy . To the contrary, a proper humility that leads us Christ and thus His teachings on happiness will produce a countenance of joy and peace in us.
    • While there is a proper time (Ecclesiastes 3) for all things including mourning and sadness, generally speaking the light and hope of Christ should shine in us for all to see.

    1 Thessalonians 2:19: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

  • It doesn’t necessarily mean physical poverty, although that could be part
    • No where does Scripture teach that physical poverty in and of itself produces Godliness. The Scripture does have many warnings of the dangers of pursuing wealth and of possessing wealth.
    • The wealthy man should be certain that his riches are completely at God’s disposal and pray that God will allow him to hold very loosely to that which is perishable and be willing to give it up for that which is imperishable. Scripture also teaches that we should be dependent on God for our daily sustenance (Psa 23) and that He will no doubt care for our needs. We should never trust in our wealth in any way. It can be gone in an instant, and pray God that it would be gone if it keeps us from Him.
    • Man, in his never ending ability to produce pride in any circumstance can be just as prideful about his poverty, as he can about his wealth. Jesus dealt with the attitude of the heart. He can use wealth or poverty to His glory. You need only to be available and content with either. The poor man should glory in His dependence on God and not covet wealth.

We are taught to be content in whatever situation God has providentially arranged, and glorify Him with joy and thanksgiving in all circumstances. God is above any amount of wealth , or any depth of poverty.

Regardless of his bank account,
every man is unimaginably rich who has Christ,
and is wretchedly poor without Him.

Our duty is to understand that God gives, God takes away, God uses… it’s all His. Can He trust us to manage (steward) His resources?

Philippians 4:11-13: Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

What “poor in spirit” DOES mean

  • Spiritual poverty
    • The Greek: Ptochos (toh kaas) means “poor and helpless”, “cowering like a beggar”. While this initially assaults our American sense of self sufficiency, it is an accurate picture of our true need for Christ.
    • The person who truly understands their emptiness, helplessness and need for God, is ready to be used by God and to enjoy the happiness that only comes from a Savior who chose us , called us, died for us, saved us, sustains us, and grants us eternal glory with him.
    • Consider the following verses and God’s longing for us to know the happiness of being “poor in spirit” (remember, we are talking about Godly humility, not a sad “poor me” countenance):
      • Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
      • Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
      • Isaiah 57:15 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 has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
      • Isaiah 66:2 For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.
      • James 4:7-10 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

The repeating theme is that God is pleased with and desires:

  • A broken heart – Godly humility produced from a realization of our predicament
  • A contrite spirit – a repentant attitude, not only understanding our need, but being truly sorry that our own sinfulness caused it
  • Mourning and lamenting – a true sadness and grief over the effects of sin and how it grieves God

Humility is a growing characteristic of the maturing Christian. Our motto should be: In myself nothing; in God everything. True humility results in the continual decrease of “self” and the increase of Christ.

Father, help us to understand what true humility is. Give us Godly understanding about our true predicament as sinners. Allow us to fully turn to You knowing that You are our only hope of salvation. Amen.

Contemplation: Why is humility so absent in our society? Do you understand that humility is originated in your understanding of salvation?

Application: Humility is not something you can manufacture. True humility is the result of understanding the essence of salvation, and who we are compared to God. Did you understand the depth of your helplessness before the Lord reached down and saved you?.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?