“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3)
Jesus taught on the Beatitudes as part of His Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes are Jesus’ important teachings on Christian ethics and values. They describe our new life in Christ and stress on our attitudes. The blessings in the Beatitudes have to do with spiritual standing and rewards rather than material riches or physical wellbeing.
The poor in spirit refer to those who humbly acknowledge their spiritual inadequacy. They recognize their need for God and know that they do not have to earn His love with wealth, status, or spiritual sophistication. They accept themselves and their imperfections. They depend on God.
In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee’s prayer reflected that he justified himself before God and overlooked his shortcomings. He also despised others. “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Lk 18:13).
Which one went home justified? The tax collector who was poor in spirit. Being poor in spirit is admitting that we have strayed from Jesus Christ. We feel contrition for our sins and admit our need for God. We can be honest with God, and He will forgive us.
For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isa 57:15)
Jesus concluded the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector with this statement: “…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18:14). We tend to exalt ourselves as our culture believes that we are blessed if we assert ourselves, are proud of ourselves, or promote ourselves. Yet, humility is the opposite of exaltation; it literally means “think low”. However, it does not characterize a lack of self-confidence or a negative self-image. Humility is an attitude that will boost self-confidence, for it means that we depend on God and assume the role that God has assigned to us in life. Humility is not in what we own or achieve, but in maintaining a teachable attitude, a willingness to bend to the will of the Father. If we walk humbly with the Lord, the path of life will be blessed.