What does Jesus mean by “poor in spirit”? Some would say that He is talking about those who are poor in material possessions. This view would have some appeal to the wealthy. However, the poor could counter this argument by saying it means those who are spiritually poor. Luke’s version of this Beatitude says, “Blessed be you poor; for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). This could mean material poverty, but it does not. Matthew disqualifies this interpretation by quoting Christ’s words, “blessed are the poor in spirit.”
The “poor in spirit” may be either poor or wealthy in material possessions. To be poor in spirit is to be poor in the inward man, not in outward circumstances. Consequently, if we are poor in spirit we will recognize that we are impoverished spiritually before God.
If we are poor in spirit we are not proud in spirit. We would be humble. Humility is one of the Christian’s starting points in life. The poor in spirit know that they are in need of mercy and forgiveness. They know that in themselves they have no spiritual resources. They know that they must have help from God.
The poor tin spirit are not poor-spirited either. A poor-spirited person lacks drive and enthusiasm for life. Some Christians seem to think this is what Christ is talking about. They do not attempt anything for God, but rather sit in their rocking chair of apathy while family, friends, and strangers perish. In fact, most poor-spirited “so-called” Christians drive other away form God rather than toward Him.
To be poor in spirit does not require the suppression of personality. Neither does it require retirement from life and its responsibilities. Too often, some Christians believe that they are poor in spirit if they tell how humble they are. They glory in their poverty of spirit and thereby prove they are not humble. Those who are truly poor in spirit will not find it necessary to worry about the impression they will make; they will always give the right impression.