Poverty in Spirit

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

All through scriptures, it is very evident that God delights in the prosperity and greatness of his children. As a matter of fact, the scripture tells us that the Lord has bequeathed all his creation to his children—The Church.

He has willed his ministers, the world, death, life, present things and things to come to us believers (1Corinthians 3:22). And I have expounded this fact in my article “All Are Yours”.

All through scriptures, it is evident that the majority of the people that walked with God were made great in all ramifications. Including the chosen nation—Israel. The Lord says we shall be the head and not the tail. He says we shall be above only, and not beneath…

Then again we are told in scriptures that the Lord has given us (Christians) all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Hence every believer in Christ Jesus is prosperous or rich in all ramifications through redemption and divine heritage. Now, with the above point established, we want to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit

What does he mean by being poor in the spirit? It is very important we understand this statement, because many Christians over the ages, have erroneously interpreted the above statement of the Lord to mean material or financial poverty…

But Jesus never implied that in the context of his statement; hence he was specific. He didn’t say, “Blessed are the materially or financially poor”. Rather he says “blessed are the poor in spirit”. Because someone can be materially or financially poor, and yet not be poor in spirit.

Then on the other hand, someone can as well be materially or financially rich but poor in spirit. Such was the likes of Abraham, Job, Isaac, David, etc.

So What Does Poverty in Spirit Mean?

To better understand poverty in spirit we have to consider the biblical examples the Lord spoke against their attitudes with wealth. Firstly, let’s consider the fellow that ran to Jesus to ask him how to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-20).

After his conversation with the Lord, the Lord asked him to go sell all he had and give them to the poor, and come, take up the cross and follow him ( Mark 10:21).

When he received that instruction from the Lord, the word of God says he was sad at the saying and went away grieved: for he had great possessions (Mark 10:22). Now the problem of this young man was not the fact that he had great possessions. No, that couldn’t have been the case; if it was, the Lord would have as well been displeased with Abraham, Job, Isaac and Jacob…

The major challenge of this rich fellow, as it is with many today, is hearty attachment to their possessions. How did I know? I knew this by the Lord’s clarifying statement in verse 24 of the same scripture (Mark 10: 24). Here are the exact words of the Lord Jesus; “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God”.

So the challenge the Lord had with this rich fellow, wasn’t his wealth or great possessions. But rather his trust or hearty attachment to his possessions that hindered him from selling them off, giving them away to the poor and following him as the Lord instructed him.

That said, let’s consider another example. Because a matter must be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses.

“ And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God, I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot… Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”—Revelation 3:14 & 17.

The same issue comes up again in the above scripture as we saw in the first scriptural example. This fellow became lukewarm concerning God and the things of God as a result of material possessions. And the Lord was displeased with him, not because of his possessions but with his material idolatry.

And the Lord was specific about that in his rebuke. He says; “Because thou sayest I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”. The Lord didn’t say “because you are rich and increased with good and have need of nothing”. So it wasn’t about his possession, but about the statement of his heart.

It was about his material attachment or attitude in the heart.

So from the above two examples, we can rightly define poverty in spirit to mean, a holistic trust in the Lord, and absolute detachment from possessions, position or achievements. Poverty in spirit means giving up on everything you possess to the Lord in your heart…

It means owning everything, yet submitting all to the Lord in your heart (your spirit). Poverty in spirit means, “Not letting your possessions or position get into your heart or your head”.

Poverty of the spirit means not putting anything or the possession of anything or position above God and his instructions in your heart. Thus poverty in spirit is a matter of the heart or spirit. It is not a function of material or financial possessions because like I wrote earlier, one can be financially or materially poor, yet not be poor in spirit.

Key to Poverty in Spirit  

The major biblical key for maintaining poverty in the spirit (human spirit), no matter the level of your elevation in life… Is the realisation that we are actually, only receivers, not achievers. We must realise that whatever we own, possess, know; the heights we have attained, the goals we have achieved etc…

Are all given to us by the Lord. We can receive absolutely nothing except it be given us from heaven (John 3:27). When this revelation dawn in our hearts or spirits, and we walk in it on daily basis, our ego will be humbled.

And as such, we won’t have any need to glory in ourselves or be high-minded over anything. But rather, we’ll always give all the glory to God for all things at all times (see 1 Corinthians 4:7). And along the same line, we’ll also render our bodies and possessions as living sacrifice unto God.

This is exactly what poverty in spirit mean. And the Lord will have us make this attitude our lifestyle. For he says the kingdom of heaven is the heritage or possession of the poor in spirit.

The Lord does not have any problem with making us great to any level in life. But he does have a problem with our being high-minded and Idolising the greatness or possessions.

I pray the Lord make this attitude of poverty in spirit a part of your new nature in Jesus Name!

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Emeke Odili