"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3).
The Puritan writer Thomas Watson listed seven ways to determine if you are poor in spirit (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], pp. 45-48):
- You will be weaned from self—Psalm 131:2 says, "Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me." When you are poor in spirit you will focus not on yourself but on glorifying God and ministering to others.
- You will focus on Christ—Second Corinthians 3:18 says that believers are "beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [and] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." When you are poor in spirit, the wonder of Christ captivates you. To be like Him is your highest goal.
- You will never complain—If you are poor in spirit you accept God's sovereign control over your circumstances, knowing you deserve nothing anyway. Yet the greater your needs, the more abundantly He provides.
- You will see good in others—A person who is poor in spirit recognizes his own weaknesses and appreciates the strengths of others.
- You will spend time in prayer—It is characteristic of beggars to beg. Therefore you will constantly be in God's presence seeking His strength and blessing.
- You will take Christ on His terms—Those who are poor in spirit will give up anything to please Christ, whereas the proud sinner wants simply to add Christ to his sinful lifestyle.
- You will praise and thank God—When you are poor in spirit, you will be filled with praise and thanks for the wonder of God's grace, which He lavishes on you through Christ (Eph. 1:6).
Do those principles characterize your life? If so, you are poor in spirit and the kingdom of heaven is yours (Matt. 5:3). If not, you must seek God's forgiveness and begin to live as His humble child.
Suggestions for Prayer:
Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart, revealing any attitudes or motives that displease Him. Seek His grace in changing them.
For Further Study:
Read 3 John. Would you characterize Gaius as poor in spirit? Diotrephes? Explain.