What does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” Most people have the idea that Jesus is speaking about taking a vow of poverty. They give this beatitude the sense that there is some holiness attached to forsaking all worldly goods and living a meager existence. A vow of poverty can actually be antithetical to Christian teaching especially if it robs us of industriousness or the ability to earn money to be used in the service of God. If Jesus were speaking of material poverty, there would never be any hope for sending out missionaries, supporting pastors, building church buildings, conducting Christian schools, or any benevolent works. The simple truth is the poor cannot feed the poor, missionaries cannot travel without money, pastors cannot physically live on prayers and good wishes, therefore if everyone tried to be blessed by being poor many of our Christian works would never be accomplished.
Holiness achieved by poverty would actually rob the richness of the true meaning of this beatitude. Jesus is speaking of spiritual bankruptcy. We are depraved, vile creatures with no personal worth that commends us to God. It is only when we recognize how destitute we truly are that we are driven to the cross of Christ. We have no hope but in Him. We cannot achieve holiness by giving up anything because we don’t have anything to offer God. “In my hand no price I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling!”
Pastor V. Mark Smith