Freed to live through the death of another.

Some Thoughts on Poverty of Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

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.


  1. DErifter

    Hmmm. I’ve never had any doubt that God would have been right and just to cast me to hell, but I never thought about “good” before.

    I’ll have to agree with you though, because obviously everything He does is good. I’ve often pondered Judgement Day, and thought of those being cast into the outer darkness. There’s always been pangs of grief for them in my heart, you know “Lord, isn’t there SOME WAY they could be saved from it?”

    But I reckon in that day, seeing things as they really are, we’ll see the justice in it and beyond that, even the glory of it (I think), as His eternal plan is completed. What seems eternally cruel to us now, we’ll see as just through His eyes. We’ll know how evil sin is, past what we can comprehend now, and why He deals with it so severely.

    And were it not for Jesus, I’d be receiving His eternal judgement while shouting, “Your ways are right, and your judgement is true!”

    And you’re right- It would be good.

  2. Mark D. Smith

    Thanks for the post. Good stuff.

    I think that a super awesome message that relates to this topic is Mark Driscoll, “Boasting About Jesus” – you can check out the vodcast by searching for Mars Hill Church on iTunes. We watched and discussed it last night for Bible Study and it was powerful for everyone, including me even though it was my 4th time watching it!!

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