Declaring Spiritual Bankruptcy

Matthew 5:3 (ESV)
 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In this first statement of the Beatitudes, Jesus is drawing a line in the sand for all to decide upon which side to reside.

We can view the meaning of “poor in spirit” to be that of a self-awareness of our own lowly state, so much that we recognize a need to change our direction. In a sense, this self-reflection allows us to declare spiritual bankruptcy. We realize we have nothing to offer God that would grant us eternal rest with Him. No amount of giving, no amount of good works, or being kind to one another can merit entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. Only through the recognition of our own spiritual poverty and the need of someone greater to carry us along can we ever hope to enter His rest.

Two things I would like to point out to help clarify. The first is I believe a general failure by most of us to recognize our own sinful condition. When we do not possess such awareness, it is much easier to take in stride the words of our Lord, and thus do not really feel any burden from such a message. The entire message of the Gospel becomes less pressing on our lives.

Jesus has laid out before us a roadmap to His Kingdom—drawing us to dwell with Him in eternal glory if only we can achieve spiritual poverty. So how do we do this? What stands in our way? The answer lies in my second point, which is our own sense of pride.

It is the prideful man who love this world more than the next. We saw pride raise its head in the very first transgression and it has been a leading force in every other sin since. When we sing praises of ourselves, or bask in the aura of self-sufficiency, we are in direct rebellion to God, the author of all that is good. When pride befalls us, there is no longer a reason to seek after God, after all we no longer recognize our own guiltiness and the need for God’s mercy. Our position no longer is that of a lowly child, but one who is now self-exalted in which the very character of Christ is devalued and His redeeming blood unnecessary for our sustainment.

It is only in recognizing our poverty that we can reverse such a destructive path. When humility cloaks us, we break free from the bondage of pride as they cannot coexist; we then recognize the Truth, a truth that ultimately sets us free to enter the Kingdom of God.

The poor in spirit are indeed blessed.