Be Poor in Spirit – 3/15/21

Mike Engelsgierd

Matthew 19:16-30

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.


Few stories in the Bible begin with as much hope or end with as much sadness. A man asks how he may obtain eternal life, and he asks the One who is Life Himself! But what happened?  

To summarize, Jesus highlights the sin in the man’s heart, and the man will not acknowledge it, turn from it, and trust in Christ. After the man says that he has kept all the commandments in relation to his fellow men, Jesus goes back to the first commandment: “you shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). The man had to choose between the god of his wealth, and the God of his salvation. Tragically, he could not part with his wealth, and he walked away without receiving what he thought he desired so much.  

The first lesson from this is that no amount of wealth, status, or self-righteousness will earn us salvation. We must be poor in spirit, acknowledging our sin, mourning for it, and hungering for God’s righteousness above all else (Matthew 5:3-6). Second, we must submit our whole life to Christ, even to the point of being willing to give away all that we have.  

But this submission to God is not without reward. After the man leaves, Jesus says that those who have given up all for Christ “will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (19:29).  

God has truly blessed us with many good, earthly things. Have we become too attached to them? Can we, at times, value the gift more than the Giver? We show our submission to God by stewarding His gifts wisely and carrying them with open hands. If He calls us to give some or all, may we give freely; with joyful gratitude that He gave Himself for us and in joyful hope of future reward and eternal life. 


Father, thank you for the gifts you have entrusted to us. Keep us from loving them more than we love you. We thank you that you have given us eternal life and an inheritance in Christ, undeserving though we are. Let us be openhanded with our possessions out of the overflow of the joy and honor we have of serving Christ; that the glory and fame of His great name may be known in our lives. Amen.