In the second part of the Mere Fidelity discussion of the Beatitudes, Matt, Alastair, and Derek tackle the first bombshell that Jesus drops: Blessed are the poor in spirit. There’s a strong urge in most of us to spiritualize the “poor in spirit” part of that phrase. But it seems as if Jesus is talking about people who are literally lacking in money. How do we reconcile that with our Christian faith and trust in God? Listen.

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How Is Texas Like Canada? [0:00]

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit: The Connection Between Spiritual and Economic Poverty [2:39]

Mere Fidelity Book of the Month [34:27]


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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. They covered this a little but I think the pushback against *not spiritualizing needs a little more attention. There are definitely some dangers:

    1.) Just experientially, I have had some long term friendships with people who were quite poor, some to the point of homelessness. These folks may have been poor, but we’re also quite prideful. I would say they were not any closer to a contrite heart than anyone else. Maybe they are the exception though. I think we need to face the honest truth that *some people are poor, in part, because of sinful choices.
    2.) I know people in my church, including myself, who have had unhealthy relationships with the concept poverty. This manifests in guilt for not giving away “enough” (why not just give it all away and love in a puddle in the woods), and desires to be physically poor that would actually bring less benefit and more burden to my community/family. We need to be careful that our unhealthy veneration of the poor isn’t torturing the souls of our family in Christ.
    3.) Similarly, we know historically there has been a trend, especially in the first millennium, that tended towards extreme piousness and idolazation of poverty. Examples would be Columbanus and Paulinius.

    My point is that anything can become a sacrifice that is an excuse for not having a contrite heart, anything can become a work to gain righteousness. We also know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

    Let’s also not forget the great blessing those who are rich in money, but poor in spirit can be for a community. Think of all the wealthy people who supported Jesus and the early church.


  2. A little late to comment but…

    My impression was that ‘poor in spirit’ referred to, people who had given up hope will find a home in heaven. Whether they be an addict, a psychopath, a suicidal person or any other person whose spirit is diminished, we should never give up on them. We are obliged to love the most vulnerable.

    The ‘spirit’ is the noun, not the ‘poor’.


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