In Matt. 5, we find Jesus laying out His understanding of the Kingdom of God, which He announced would be coming soon. His understanding was vastly different from the popular teaching of His day.
Seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up on a hillside and began to teach the people. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Admitting spiritual poverty was considered a weakness in the days of Jesus. It still is today. Jesus turned it into a rich blessing by promising to exchange our poverty of spirit for the riches of His grace.
To be poor in spirit means to feel a deficiency and need because we have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In spiritual life, that is good. To be poor in spirit is to be never satisfied with the present growth in one's spiritual life, but to be always reaching up for more of the grace of Christ.
Poor in spirit believers look to Jesus and desire to be more like Him. They are responding to the constant drawing of the Holy Spirit toward Christ and, as a result, receiving more of the righteousness of Christ.
People who are poor in spirit are not making a parade of their poverty. Instead of focusing on sins committed and personal failures, they focus on Christ’s righteousness.
As they witness more of the infinite love and compassion of God, their hearts are melted. They sense a personal lack of God’s righteousness, but, instead of calling attention to it, seek continually for more of the grace of Christ and for the robe of His righteousness.
The poor in spirit recognize their need for forgiveness of sin and cleansing from guilt, which Christ purchased for them upon the cross. Forgiveness is a gift to those willing to receive it. They see that the good works which they have done are all mingled with self and sin. They can take no credit for any growth in the spiritual life. It is all by grace. Salvation is a gift.
Blessed are the poor in spirit because they admit and recognize their need, and obtain, by grace, the incredible gift of Christ and His righteousness. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” It is the needy that Jesus is seeking, and they will be blessed.
The main thing the poor in spirit need to do is look continually to Jesus and believe in Him whom the Father has sent. When the people came to Jesus, they asked Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
The reason we do not have more of the Spirit and power of God is that we are satisfied with what we already have. There is a tendency among Christians to make a certain amount of growth in their spiritual life and then stop. No further progress is made. They cease to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ve struggled with this at different times in my own spiritual life. It is Satan’s great work to get us to look at ourselves for spiritual strength instead of going to Jesus. If we fall for it, spiritual failure soon follows.
Being a follower of Jesus Christ demands constant spiritual growth. To draw constantly upon His grace, we must feel our need. Spiritual pride will not admit any spiritual need. The result is slow spiritual death. Spiritual humility will admit the need for constant spiritual growth by reading God’s word daily, praying and being active in ministry to others in Christ’s name.
What will the kingdom of God look like on this earth? It will look like those who are willing to admit they are poor in spirit. Kingdom of God people will hunger and thirst for more of Jesus. They will seek first the kingdom and His righteousness. They will yearn to be filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Kingdom of God people will behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus and will see with greater clarity His compassion, kindness, forgiveness, unselfishness, servant’s heart, generosity and love. By beholding, they will be changed into His image. Active in ministry, they will seek to bring healing to the brokenhearted, visit those in prison, care for the widows and orphans, feed the hungry and seek the lost.
Kingdom of God people revitalize churches. Are you ready for the challenge?