The Beggar Spirit

The Beggar Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

The term “poor” in this verse refers to a beggar, a person who is absolutely destitute.  Such a person is dependent on begging for a living.  This person must ask for handouts; he can’t get the basics of life otherwise.  When a person reaches this point, they generally do not let pride get in the way; they know their survival depends on their begging.

What I believe Jesus means by “poor in spirit” is a continual sense of spiritual need in the believer.  I say a “sense” of need, because in Christ we are actually rich.  We need to ask ourselves, “Am I continually longing for more of Jesus and for more of what He can give me?  Have I lost all sense of self-satisfaction?”

To understand this idea better, it would be good to look at the opposite condition.  There is perhaps no better picture of spiritual self-satisfaction and complacency than in the church at Laodicea.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. - Revelation 3:14-19

Significantly, the first things Jesus takes note of in this church is her lukewarmness; her complacency about her spiritual condition.  It is clear that He hates it.  And so should we.

“…I will spue thee out of my mouth.”  What more awful thing could a follower of Jesus hear?  Even the thought of being in this condition should horrify us.

One of the greatest desires of the Christian should be to “taste good” to the Master.  Note the remedy he asks the Laodicens for:  “…be zealous therefore, and repent.”  He could quickly remedy this condition if they would reject their complacency, see their spiritual poverty, and ask, even beg, for more of Him.

Jesus doesn’t want believers who are “dignified” or “reserved” in their desire for God. "Don’t be too zealous, don’t rock the boat," some say.  Yes, and live out the rest of your life in Christ in a spiritual mediocrity.  And worst of all, live a life that is distasteful to the One who purchased us for God.

“The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” - Proverbs 27:7

“For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”
Psalm 107:9

Apparently, it makes a difference to the Lord whether a person is hungry or complacent.

Here’s an example of what pleases the Lord in this regard:

And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.  And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.  And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.  And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.  And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. - Mark 10:46-52

Here is a man who knew the answer to his problem, cried out for it, and would not be silenced or held back by anyone trying to keep him quiet.  Jesus was impressed with this, and gave him his sight.

There’s an old joke that says, “Why is it that you always find a lost thing in the last place you look.  Answer:  Because you stop looking!”  Yet there are believers who seem to keep looking to other things for satisfaction, even after finding the Answer, Jesus Christ.  Having obtained salvation, their sense of need disappears.  Their spiritual passion fades, and unknown to them, Heaven looks down with great concern.

We should not ignore all the wonderful things the Lord has done for us.  But we should have the same mindset as the beggar when it comes to our spiritual condition:  “Lord, I have nothing unless I can be with You today, learn something more from You right now.  You are my very life, and I am nothing without You.”

To these people Jesus says, "theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  It cannot mean “those who are poor in spirit get to enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Entrance to God’s kingdom is a free gift through Jesus Christ.

It is possible to be a citizen of a rich country, and not enjoy its benefits.  And it is possible to be part of God's kingdom without really taking hold of it.  The “poor in spirit” are the people who really have the “keys to the city.”  They crave more of God and spiritual things.  They pursue greater depth in their.  They devote more time and energy to God, His Word, and prayer, walk, because they know that anything else is poverty incarnate.  Complacent, self-satisfied people don’t get these things.  It’s not because God doesn’t want to give it to them.  It’s because it is given to those with a “beggar spirit.”

Finally, the “poor in spirit” believer identifies with the words of this Christmas song:

“What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
Yet what can I give him?
Give him my heart.”

No one can come to God and make deals with Him.  We possess nothing that He needs.  All men are poor in comparison to Him.  We have but one thing He desires - ourselves.  Give to God your love, your devotion.  Let Him see you pursuing Him more than anything else.  If you don’t have such a desire, just confess it to Him.  He can make anyone “poor in spirit.”