Matthew 5:1-3 leads us into our subject, being the first of the Beatitudes. “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The “spirit” spoken of in this verse means our human spirit. To be “poor in spirit” is to be broken in spirit. Being broken means to be emptied of self and filled with Christ. One who is poor in spirit acknowledges his fleshly destitution and wretchedness. He therefore abandons all confidence in his own self-righteousness and capabilities and places his full trust in the Lord. To become broken is to become humble before the Lord. Being filled with humility results in obedience to the Lord.
The opposite of being broken or poor in spirit is being filled with our own self-righteous pride. Worldly pride and humility do not mix. They are opposing factors to each other somewhat like oil and water. Several Scriptures speak of the vanities of pride and gives a contrast of pride to humility. We will look at some of these Scriptures.
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt.23:12).
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4 verses 6 and 10).
First Peter 5:6 speaks almost identically: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
One of the chief out workings of pride is a stubborn spirit. Pride and stubbornness is an indication of being controlled by self-will. When one is humbled, becoming poor in spirit, he is freed from the self-willed spirit which leads him to complete obedience to Christ.
Following are a few more Scriptures showing the pitfalls of pride and the safety of humility.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).
“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2).
“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Prov. 13:10).
“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit” (Prov. 29:23).
Proverbs 10:22 states: “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” Our subject is the Beatitudes which mean blessings that bring happiness. Therefore, one who is “poor in spirit” is also rich with the blessings of God and is contented with them not experiencing the sorrows that come with a prideful self-willed life.
In conclusion, those who are “poor (broken) in spirit” will stand in sharp contrast in every way to the proud.