3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matt 5:3 (NIV)

Our Lord began His Beatitudes with the commendation that one was fortunate and fully satisfied who had the realization and understanding of their own poverty of spirit – fully grasping the fact that in and of themselves they possess no inward ability to please God. This poverty of spirit is ranked first among the Christian graces – humility being the foundation for all other graces. Indeed, God’s kingdom of glory is prepared for such as these. The kingdom of earth is for the high and lofty yet the kingdom of heaven is for the humble. This poverty of spirit, to be sure, is the correct attitude of unregenerate flesh.

..."The fact of the matter is that we cannot cast off restraint, run riot, please ourselves and be completely hedonistic without a price having to be paid. The human price is the destruction of relationships; the spiritual price is a breach with God." John Blanchard

The underlying foundational principle of Christ’s kingdom is poverty of spirit not anything we may muster up - that will always come up short – falling flat. All of our “righteousness”, Scripture states, is as filthy rags. We must possess an absolute sense of futility that the flesh could even begin to possess this capability of holiness otherwise we only wear ourselves out getting us nowhere fast. Those that maintain the knowledge that in and of themselves they are hopeless and helpless to stand before a Holy God, rightly have a firm understanding that they completely lack the power within to do anything to change their predicament. It makes no difference whether one is rich, poor, famous, gifted, intellectual or whatever - the doorway into the kingdom of heaven is poverty of spirit bringing us to the proper place where Christ can accomplish His work. I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Church in Ephesus:

12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Eph 2:12-13 (NIV)

Those who both consciously and fully depend upon Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross on their behalf are blessed. We all fall short of God’s standard of holiness – there are no exceptions. Jesus tells us in our verses for today, the sooner we come to this awareness the better. Paul states in Romans:

9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Romans 3:9-12 (NIV)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23 (NIV)

“To be lowly in our own eyes is to have humble thoughts of ourselves, of what we are, and have, and do; it is to be as little children in our opinion of ourselves...It is to be willing to make ourselves little, to do good...It is to acknowledge that God is great, and we are small; that He is holy and we are sinful; that He is all and we are nothing. To shun all confidence in our righteousness and strength, that we may depend only on the merit of Christ and the spirit and grace of Christ.” Matthew Henry

Apart from belonging to Christ – being filled with His Sprit - we are unable to stand before a Holy God – we are sunk without a Savior and that is precisely what our Jesus is. Often preaching in our day is focused upon the person’s will or the beauty of their character or on their gifting – things easily noticed and applauded by man – putting the emphasis on flesh rather than on Jesus. One can never enter the kingdom of heaven based on the virtue of their own goodness – one can only enter as an absolute pauper. Jesus is the One who produces the inspiring in the commonplace. It is His treasure in our “jars of clay”. Believers in Christ have been rescued by God from the dominion of darkness through the blood of Jesus and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. Praise Him! Paul tells us in Second Corinthians:

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21 (NIV)

“We comfort the afflicted sinner in this manner; Brother you can never be perfect in this life, but you can be holy. He will say, ‘How can I be holy when I feel my sins?’ I answer, ‘You feel sin? That is a good sign. To realize that one is ill is a step and a very necessary step, toward recovery.’ ‘But how will I get rid of my sin?’ he will ask. I answer: See the heavenly Physician, Christ, who heals the broken-hearted. Do not consult the Quack doctor, Reason. Believe in Christ and your sins will be pardoned. His righteousness will become your righteousness.” Martin Luther

What I Glean

  • The kingdom of earth is for the high and lofty, the kingdom of heaven is for the humble.
  • All my “righteousness” is as filthy rags before a holy God.
  • Jesus was made to be sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God.