With these words our Lord’s ministry began in earnest. The long-awaited promised one brings the fulfilment of all that was foreshadowed in the Law and the Prophets in his person and his kingdom, and these are those to whom his kingdom belongs: those who are poor in spirit.
In the plainest sense poverty of spirit is simply the heart of contrition and repentance that God has always required from his people (a few examples). God has always declared that he would dwell with the humble and cast out the presumptuous and haughty, those who think that they have no need of God: Christ did not even come for those who don’t need a physician.
So first and foremost, to have any part in the kingdom (saving reign) of God (in Christ) we must recognize that he is holy, and that we are sinners without a plea before him. We deserve nothing from him, plain and simple, but come to him fully knowing that it would be good and right of him to damn me to hell. He would be just and good and righteous and glorified to send me to the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, to the Gehenna of fire, where the worm is never satisfied.
But this is nothing new, of course. If you’re a Christian, you’ve already been here and known this to be true in your own heart. So why doesn’t it last? How could it be that having come through the front door of utter humility and contrition we now think it appropriate to dwell in the room of luxurious pride and haughtiness of thought? What would possibly cause a Christian to ever think of himself as better than anyone else?
It seems that the nature of the gospel which Christ brings is such that pride in a Christian should be an impossibility. It begins with humility, continues in self-sacrificing love, and concludes with eternal praise–it is never about self; not for a moment.
Over the next couple of posts I hope to put forward a few thoughts about poverty of spirit: Why Christians lose it and how to further affect it.