The humble, not the self-assertive…
When Jesus said, in his Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, who was he talking about?  Clearly, he was not referring primarily to those whose lot in life is to be materially poor; nor does he seem to have had in mind those who are poor-spirited in the sense of being dejected, timid, or miserable. Instead, he appears to have been thinking of those who are ‘poor’ in the estimation of the world – the humble rather than the self-assertive, the quiet and unassuming, and those who are strangely unambitious as far as the success that this world has to offer is concerned.

It is, after all, not what men and women have, but what they are, that really matters.
The first duty of the true Christian is to show love to others, as Jesus commanded his first disciples (John 1:34); and true Christianity is practised in the common things of life. It may be thought that to give someone a cup of water is not much compared to a gift of £10,000. But is it? “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. The Lord Jesus Christ, as someone once rightly said, “appoints no hours, [and] allots no sphere” for his followers. As the example for us all, Jesus himself simply went about “doing good” at every opportunity.

The daily life of Jesus was his religion.
Every new day brought round the ‘ordinary’ course of Jesus’ ministry of service. The poor, wherever he met them, were the object of his attention; and the sick, as often as they looked to him, were his opportunity. His work was everywhere: his workshop was the world. In every humble village there was someone who needed his help and received it. His pulpit was the hillside, the solitary well, and the dusty road: no opportunity for him to give something of himself was ever too lowly or too mean.

Until he comes again…
The self-satisfied – mostly the rich and those with power or status – were often the targets of Jesus’ criticism (Matthew 23:13). He did not call those who thought they were ‘righteous’: he called those who recognised their need for forgiveness and for the salvation from sin that he offered (Luke 5:32). They were the “poor in spirit”; and those who received him in faith were greatly “blessed”. Such men and women will be even more richly “blessed” when Jesus comes to earth again, as promised by angels at his ascension (Acts 1:11). To those who look for him, and who are truly “poor in spirit”, he will “appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).