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Sermon quotes on

poor in spirit

Jerry Bridges

Yes, I grew up in poverty—but not the depth of poverty Jesus was talking about when he used the expression “poor in spirit.” The Greek word that Jesus used for “poor” is the word ptochos. It is used to describe not ordinary poverty but abject poverty. Ptochos is not like my parents struggling to make ends meet. Rather it describes a person who is completely destitute and helpless to do anything about it.

The Blessing of Humility, The Navigators, 2016, pp. 9-10.

Jerry Bridges

This abject poverty of spirit comes from our awareness of our own dreadfully sinful condition.

The Blessing of Humility, The Navigators, 2016, p.10.

Jerry Bridges

Believers who are growing continue to see more sin in their lives. It is not that they are sinning more; rather they are becoming more aware of and more sensitive to the sin that has been there all along.

The Blessing of Humility, The Navigators, 2016, p.11.

Barbara Brown Taylor

With so much effort being poured into church growth, so much press being given to the benefits of faith, and so much flexing of religious muscle in the public square, the poor in spirit have no one but Jesus to call them blessed anymore.

John Calvin

He only who is reduced to nothing in himself, and relies on the mercy of God, is poor in spirit.

Jonathan Edwards

A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable and full of glory, is a humble broken-hearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behaviour.

A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections: In Three Parts, 1821, p.293.

Emma Goldman (For Contrast)

Heaven must be an awfully dull place if the poor in spirit live there.

Mother Earth, a Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Social Science and Literature, 1913.

Larry Hein

May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God, who is Father, Son, and Spirit.

John of Kronstadt

The man who is poor in spirit desires and says with his whole heart, Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. It is as though he himself disappears; everywhere and in everything he wishes to see God-in himself and in others. ‘Let everything by Thine, not mine.’

C.S. Lewis

Catch {a person} at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, “By jove, I’m being humble,” and almost immediately pride – pride at his own humility – will appear.

Joyful Christian, Simon and Schuster 1996, p.153.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

[The Poor in Spirit have] a complete absence of pride, a complete absence of self-assurance and self-reliance.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960), 33, 40.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

It is nothing, then, that we can produce; it is nothing that we can do in ourselves. It is just this tremendous awareness of our utter nothingness as we come face-to-face with God.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960), p. 40.

Frank J. Matera

This kingdom, however, is not a geographical place; it is not even heaven. It is the in-breaking rule of God over the lives of those who submit to God’s rule. It is God’s rule over a creation gone astray, which finds itself under the power and sway of Satan.

The Sermon on the Mount : The Perfect Measure of the Christian Life, Liturgical Press, 2013.

Frank J. Matera

By describing his disciples as poor in spirit , Jesus points to their relationship with God. Their poverty has touched their inmost being so that they now depend entirely upon God.

The Sermon on the Mount : The Perfect Measure of the Christian Life, Liturgical Press, 2013.

Frank J. Matera

The good news that Jesus brings to the poor in spirit is that the kingdom of heaven is making its appearance, and when it arrives there will be a reversal of fortunes whereby many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
The Sermon on the Mount : The Perfect Measure of the Christian Life, Liturgical Press, 2013.

Scot McKnight

The socioeconomic rootedness of the word ‘poor’ does not permit exclusively the spiritual poverty interpretation, and the ‘in spirit’ demands that this be more than simple economic oppression…[the poor in spirit are] “the economically destitute who nonetheless trust God.”

Sermon on the Mount, Zondervan, 2013.

Thomas Merton

Surrender your poverty and acknowledge your nothingness to the Lord. Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and compassion which are like nothing you have ever found in a book or heard in a sermon.

The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985).

John Ortberg

May your expectations all be frustrated, may all of your plans be thwarted, may all of your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and can sing and dance in the love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

William Shakespeare

Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.

Othello, Act 3, Sc.3, l.176-8.

Charles Spurgeon

A true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalog of necessities, an exposure of secret wounds, a revelation of hidden poverty.

Charles Spurgeon

A true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalog of necessities, an exposure of secret wounds, a revelation of hidden poverty.

Charles Spurgeon

The way to rise in the kingdom is to sink in ourselves.

John Stott

At first to be ‘poor’ meant to be in literal, material need. But gradually, because the needy had no refuge but God, ‘poverty’ came to have spiritual overtones and to be identified with humble dependence on God….Thus, to be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, indeed our spiritual bankruptcy, before God. For we are sinners, under the holy wrath of God, and deserving nothing but the judgment of God.

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (The Bible Speaks Today Series) InterVarsity Press, pp.37-38.

Augustus Montague Toplady & Thomas Hastings

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to thee for dress;

Helpless, look to thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me

Paul Washer

Idolatry is when you become the source of your own joy. Poverty of spirit is a wonderful thing.

Abraham Wright

I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness.

John Calvin

He only who is reduced to nothing in himself, and relies on the mercy of God, is poor in spirit.’

Commentary On A Harmony Of The Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, I, (1558: translated by William Pringle, 1845: Eerdmans, n.d.).

R.C.H. Lenski

The greatest of all comfort is the absolution pronounced upon every contrite mourning sinner.

The interpretation of St Matthew’s Gospel by (1943: Augsburg, 1964).

Flannery O’Connor

Some kind of loss is usually necessary to turn the mind toward faith. If you’re satisfied with want you’ve got, you’re hardly going to look for anything better.

Alia Joy

There is a helplessness in poverty that precedes the move of God in our lives because we understand an aspect of grace that so many miss: we do nothing to earn it. When we understand this, all becomes grace.

Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack, Baker Books, 2019.

Alia Joy

We don’t believe our ability to bless others might result from our poverty. Our need might be the thing that most blesses the body of Christ.

Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack, Baker Books, 2019.

Alia Joy

We cannot know the inheritance of God without identifying with the poor in spirit, without the poverty that says, “I am naked and poor and wretched and I need a Savior or I’ll die. I’m desperate for you, Jesus.”

Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack, Baker Books, 2019.