What does Jesus really mean when He taught that it is blessed to be spiritually poor?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
Indeed, great blessings belong to those who realise:
- They are spiritually poor.
- They need to change for the better.
- They need God’s mercy and forgiveness.
- They need to depend on Him for strength to change for the better.
In other words, they are willing to humble themselves before God.
This theme is further amplified in the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14):
Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We would have thought that the former with his good deeds would be approved by God. But he was proud and self-righteous, treating the latter with contempt. It was the humble tax collector who found favour in God’s eyes. He realised he was spiritually poor—could not measure up to God’s standards of morality—and needed His mercy and forgiveness.
On the other hand, the spiritual state of the Pharisee above can be compared to the members of the church of Laodicea, who were lukewarm and did not realise they were spiritually bankrupt.
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (Revelation 3:15-18).
Indeed, it is better and more blessed to acknowledge our spiritual poverty and seek God’s mercy than to think we is spiritually rich but, in God’s eyes, we are not.
Even Paul, the apostle, proclaimed: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy 1:15).
To reiterate, the way to blessedness is to humble ourselves before God and acknowledge our spiritual poverty. And unless the Holy Spirit through God’s word convicts us of our soul's corruption, we won't be changed from shame to glory & from glory to glory.
SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS AND POVERTY
What truly matters is not how we see ourselves but what God thinks of us: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, POOR, BLIND, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).