by Seth Burgan: Youth Pastor at Dayspring Community Church
“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”-Matthew 5:1-3.
The very first attitude Jesus addresses during the Sermon on the Mount is very likely the hardest one to develop. Becoming poor in spirit requires, first, that we acknowledge our own tendency toward self-sufficiency. Breaking this predisposition of self cannot be done alone. We need the Holy Spirit’s life, power, and grace to keep ourselves completely dependent upon God.
Being poor in spirit was not something that Jesus simply preached about, but something he modeled:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (held onto), but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”-Philippians 2:5-8.
Jesus let go of His privileges and His glory in heaven and depended completely on the Father. Scripture says that he made himself nothing; which literally means he emptied himself. Jesus emptied himself of everything that had defined Him in order to surrender His life to the Father’s plan. He realized that His existence was not about Himself; it was about saving us.
Yet so many people today are trying to fill themselves up and trying to make themselves something. This is such a dangerous way to live; because when someone pursues making something of themselves, instead of emptying themselves, it is not long before they stop depending on God.
So how is it that we develop a dependency on God? Matthew 7:7-8 tells us:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will open to you. For everyone who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Ask. Seek. Knock. Those three simple worlds communicate a poor in spirit attitude. A person who is poor in spirit is unashamed of asking God for help. Asking shows that a person is in need and trusting God to hear them; those who seek prove they are honest and will do whatever it takes to pursue God and His purposes; and those who knock communicate that they are committed to persistently bringing their requests to God, not because they have a lack of faith, but because they are expressing their dependence on God by acknowledging their needs belong to Him.
Jesus promised the kingdom of heaven to such as these. He pronounced blessing over those who made seeking Him and His kingdom their first priority. Living poor in spirit is the foundational attitude of our Christian faith!