Revelation 3:17 – “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (ESV)
The poverty of spirit Jesus insists upon consists of a full, honest, factual, conscious and conscientious recognition that we do not have the spiritual resources to put any of the Sermon on the Mount’s precepts into practice. When we are confronted with God’s holiness, with the transcript of that holiness in His Law and the Spirit takes it home to our hearts just truly who God is and who we are … we are confronted with the fact that we cannot fulfil God’s standards ourselves. We must come to him and acknowledge our spiritual bankruptcy, emptying ourselves of our self-righteousness, moral self-esteem, and personal vainglory. Emptied of these things we are ready for him to fill us.
The one who is poor in spirit is the one who has seen himself in the light of God’s might and holiness, and pride and self-sufficiency are no more. It is the realization that has dawned upon the prodigal son, who comes to himself, awakened to his lostness and estrangement, and betakes himself to his Father’s house.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote: “It means a complete absence of pride, a complete absence of self-assurance and of self-reliance. It means a consciousness that we are nothing in the presence of God. It is nothing, then, that we can produce; it is nothing that we can do in ourselves. It is just this tremendous awareness of our utter nothingness we come face to face with God.”
All the things we would cling to as important in the world’s eyes we reject.
Ask yourself: how do I really feel about myself in terms of God, and in the presence of God? As I live my life, what are the things I like to think of regarding myself?
The first step toward the kingdom for anyone is realizing and confessing that you are in fact outside the kingdom. It is entered only by those whose pride has been broken and who have humbled themselves before God.
“Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.”
One science fiction writer whose blog I read from time to time, reflecting on his growing up in poverty, wrote several years ago, “Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.” Being poor in spirit is knowing exactly how much everything costs, and knowing that you never will have in yourself anything to meet what is needed. Those who are poor in spirit have become convinced of their spiritual poverty. It is a continual confession of a state of spiritual bankruptcy, spiritual inability in everything and all things, and fleeing to the One of Whom we can say “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.” (Psalm 23). They have begun to cry out, “O God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:13). They are of a contrite spirit and tremble at God’s Word (Isaiah 66:2; cf 57:15) They realize their own utter helplessness (Romans 7:24), expect nothing from self, everything from God.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV). For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15 ESV)
You see, to be poor in spirit, you don’t look at yourself and then try to do things to yourself. Till we are poor in spirit, Christ is never precious. Before we see our own wants, we never see Christ’s worth. The thing to do is to see yourself considering Who God is, and then look back to Him. See your own utter deficiency and the full sufficiency of Christ. Look at Him, keep looking at him! The more you look to Him you will feel more hopeless in yourself, and the more you will appreciate Him.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
— Pastor John Butler