What It Means to Be Poor in Spirit

by Greg Laurie on Oct 23, 2019
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
—Matthew 5:2

If we rewrote the Beatitudes for our culture today, they probably would look like this:

Blessed are the wealthy, for they will have it all.
Blessed are the beautiful, for they will be admired.
Blessed are the popular, for they will be loved.
Blessed are the famous, for they will have followers on social media.

However, that isn’t what Jesus said. Instead, He started the Beatitudes with a bombshell: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:2 NKJV). Or, to say it another way, “Happy are the poor in spirit.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are the poor.” Rather, He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (emphasis added). In itself there is no blessedness in being rich or poor. The Bible doesn’t commend poverty, nor does it condemn wealth.

But the Bible does say this: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV). I’ve met wealthy people who were happy and poor people who were miserable. I’ve also met poor people who were happy and wealthy people who were miserable.

So it isn’t about your bank account. It’s about your spiritual state before God. The word poor in this verse comes from a verb meaning “to shrink, cower, or cringe.” Beggars often did this in Jesus’ day.

If you want to be happy, if you want to receive God’s blessing, then you must be poor in spirit. This means recognizing your spiritual poverty apart from God. It means recognizing the simple fact that, apart from the Lord, you’re lost, helpless, and hopeless.

If you want to be happy, then admit your true spiritual state. Blessed are those who see themselves as they really are, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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