By   •   September 1, 2004   •   Topics:


What does it mean to be poor in spirit, as Jesus said we ought to be? I don't understand this, because it seems to me that we ought to strive to be rich in spirit, not poor. Or am I missing the point?


Your confusion is understandable; after all, the Bible does warn us against being empty and impoverished in our souls, and urges us to seek spiritual riches instead. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

But Jesus also said that there is another kind of spiritual poverty—one we should seek. He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). What did He mean? Simply this: We must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant.

In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Pride can take all kinds of forms, but the worst is spiritual pride. Often the richer we are in things, the poorer we are in our hearts. Have you faced your own need of Christ? Do you realize that you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness? Don’t let pride or anything else get in the way, but turn to Christ in humility and faith—and He will bless you and save you.

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  1. Stephen says:

    Thank You so much! I now have understanding of this part of God’s Word. God Bless.

  2. JMel says:

    Many scholars believe that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and was later translated into Greek. The word ‘poor’ in Hebrew was translated into the word ‘poor’ in Greek. But in Hebrew the word ‘poor’ can also mean ‘humble’… When you replace the word ‘poor’ with ‘humble’ this will make sense. Hope this helps. Peace and grace!

  3. Dave Rapp says:

    Many, many thanks for this QA concerning Matthew 5:3. I have been searching out any and all info on this verse as I need to give a talk about it this Saturday.

  4. Michael Newberry says:

    I read that Jesus shows us how we should live when He instructed us in Matthew 5 – to be poor in spirit, to mourn/be comforted, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers, etc… However, our society, the world, Satan, and our own sinful nature, does everything and anything to influence us to do and to be exactly opposite. Our society has a great influence over us without us even realizing it – through media, Hollywood, public schools, our work environment, books, etc… It’s such a struggle to stay focused on Jesus and the attitude that He wants me to have.

  5. naomi merritt says:

    want to hear from God what do i do

    1. Cindy says:


      Are you concerned about something and would like God to show you what to do? Or would you like to know God better?

      If you are searching for God, you can rest assured, He is searching for you and loves you immensely.

  6. Ashley Hamparsomian says:

    Now I understand. Thank you & God bless you!

  7. Mary Nelson says:


  8. DEMETRIA says:


  9. dane says:

    Thanks for elaboration. You are wonderful

  10. Charlotte Ingasian says:

    Thank u for explaining matthew 5:3 now i have a clear understanding…be bless