Do Jesus words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” imply that those who are “rich in spirit” are not blessed?
There are other places in the Scripture where we are encouraged to have confidence in our faith. The Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1.9). The writer of Hebrews encourages us to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4.16) and to say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13.6). If poverty in spirit can be defined as recognizing that we are spiritually helpless (God’s Word Version of Matthew 5.3), then the recognition that we are spiritually victorious would be richness in spirit. Is Jesus teaching us to not be confident in our faith even though so many other New Testament passages encourage us to be just that?
The Apostle Paul helps me to answer this question in his letter to the church in Corinth. He wrote,
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3.4-6).
Poverty in spirit recognizes that we are nothing in ourselves, but that through Christ, we have become filled with the fullness of God. Paul affirms this truth again in his letter to the Philippians where he wrote,
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. 7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3.4-11)
Once Paul realized that everything of himself was lost, that he was impoverished and poor, only then could be receive the riches of Christ. In his poverty, he discovered the power of Christ’s resurrection.
When Paul wrestled with his weakness, he learned something very important. The Lord taught him that God’s grace was sufficient for him and that God’s power was made perfect in weakness. (see 2 Corinthians 12. 9). So, Paul could boast about his weakness (poverty) because Christ’s power made him rich. But Paul was not confident in his own power, his own righteousness, or his own competence. He was confident in God’s grace in and through Him.
In other words, because he was confident that he was poor, he could become confident that he was rich.
How do you understand the correlation between “poor in spirit” and victorious faith?