Poor In Spirit: The Beginning, Devotional, Matthew 5:1-12

First of the beatitudes, Am I poor in spirit?

Matthew 5:1-12

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them by saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children 10 of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. Read in Net Bible Matthew 5:1-12

Poor in Spirit?

Poor in spirit? Do I need to become poor in spirit? In contrast to a spirit rich in the world: a spirit filled with self centeredness, self promotion, pride, and puffery, all normal characteristics for a person of the world. Instead, I reject rich in the world and choose poor in spirit. Yes, I must become poor in spirit, my spirit, the spirit of the world. As a result, I live unhindered by these counterfeit spirits and Jesus blesses me with his Spirit.

In contrast to the culture, Jesus speaks a language in the beatitudes alien to the world, a language antithetical to what most in it believe and expect. Most of all, in this list of beatitudes, Jesus weaves and emphasizes an underlying trait necessary to living them out: complete dependency upon him, that is poor in spirit.

What does God think of the spirit of this world? “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15 KJV

‘Poor in spirit’ serves as the foundation of the characteristics that complete the list. In the same way, it serves as the foundation of my walk with him. As a result, only if empty of my own spirit, will he fill me with his.

Thus as with meekness—forbearing, patience—a new great element of strength flows from choosing to submit and depend upon him. Similarly, this section lays a foundation for what Jesus will say for the rest of Matthew, ‘always go beyond what the world expects.’ With his help, this burden becomes light and his yoke easy.

To Become Poor in Spirit Requires God’s Help

Prayer enables understanding, applying, and living this way. In contrast, my own wisdom, judgement, and power prevent me from living this way. Most of all, I must also abandon the idea of my relationship with God as only a part of my life. Especially, this means accepting that my relationship with God as my life, the center, that from which all else radiates.

When I grasp this, then I understand, accept, and live out the beatitudes. In contrast, our culture expresses one of the greatest modern heresies in living a life of ‘ Jesus and…’ Jesus and social responsibility, Jesus and conservatism, Jesus and good citizenship, Jesus and second amendment rights. Probably this aspect of American culture distracts, misdirects, dilutes Jesus the most for me.

Living out ‘Jesus only’ empowers me to live effectively and serve my family, friends, and community. My walk with Jesus may drive my service in these other areas, but I must subjugate them as expressions not as defining points of identity. Expressions change, but my identity in him remains constant.

In conclusion, when I become poor in spirit, I understand I need help. I become willing to seek and ask for help. Always, this helps keep my pride in check, my main barrier to growing in my relationship to God.


  1. How am I depending upon God? How do I view my relationship with him? What does poor in spirit mean to me?
  2. How does poor in spirit contrast with what I expect?
  3. What “Jesus and” expression listed here challenge me most? Why?
  4. How would my life differ if I meditated and prayed about the beatitudes daily?
  5. What social reinforcements in my life oppose practicing the beatitudes?
  6. What in my life would God likely consider an abomination? Confess it, bring it into the light, and He will enable you and work in you for repentance.

Passage for Meditation

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3


God forgive me for sometimes putting a religious glaze on the puffery and pride I take from and imitate from the world. Help me to realize that I cannot remain close to you without leaning on you and depending on you.

Help me to approach you as a little child, listening to you and obedient. I do not know the best path to choose. I lay my achievements and all that I take pride in at your feet. Give me true peace and strength and help me to live out your words with the great power you provide. Help me to be poor in spirit that I might be rich in yours.

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