Last post laid a foundation for understanding the Beatitudes. Now we can discuss the first one on the spiritually poor.
Jesus said, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20).
Jesus presented values that were completely contrary to the thinking of the day. This is a perfect example—the world says the poor are cursed.
But the Bible also doesn’t say the poor – at least financially – are blessed: “[Do not] give me poverty…lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Pro 30:8-9).
Poverty can tempt people to steal or curse God. If it were a blessing, God wouldn’t have given wealth to people, i.e. Abraham, David, and Solomon. Being financially poor isn’t a blessing, any more than being financially rich is a curse.
Jesus’ words only make sense if we understand He’s discussing spiritual poverty. The parallel account in Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This means recognizing you’re a sinner who’s spiritually bankrupt, with nothing of value with which to purchase salvation.
Isaiah 66:2b On this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.
These people humbly acknowledge their sinfulness.
Luke 18:13 The tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”
This man recognized his spiritual poverty, and as a result Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14a).
This man was saved. The kingdom of God belonged to Him, and it can belong to all others who recognize their spiritual poverty. The other Beatitudes speak of future rewards:
- Luke 6:21a For you shall be filled.
- Luke 6:21b For you shall laugh.
- Luke 6:23b For indeed your reward is great in heaven.
All future, but for the spiritually poor Jesus said, “Yours is the kingdom of God.” Jesus brought the kingdom with Him, and sinners can be part of it now by faith.
When Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth, He read a passage from Isaiah that described His ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18).
Why did Jesus say He would preach the gospel to the spiritually poor? Because they’re the only ones who know they need it. They know they need a Savior.
Jesus’ words aren’t meant to imply that anyone is spiritually rich. Everyone is spiritually poor, but only some people recognize it. Do you?
- Do you think we have anything to bring to the table, so to speak, when it comes to your standing before God?
- Do you think you’re a good person?
- Do you think there’s anything in you that could allow you to earn God’s favor?
- Do you see yourself as spiritually rich?
Or do you recognize your spiritual poverty and unworthiness for heaven? Do you see yourself as a sinner who actually deserves hell?
This is what it means to be spiritually poor!
Was there a time in your life you saw yourself as spiritually rich? Possibly before hearing the Gospel? Share your testimony below.
You can listen to the sermon this is drawn from here.