In the spring of 1980, the pop and country artist Mac Davis made a hit song titled “It’s Hard to be Humble.” By the fall, another artist named Stout recorded a version of the song in the U.K. that made the top 20 list there.
With a haunting mantra, the song becries “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror—I get better looking each day.”
A satirical relief about the laughable male ego, this musical hit touts an exaggerated hubris that we find easy to recognize in each other. The problem is, it’s more difficult to detect in ourselves. When it comes to godly virtues, humility is probably the toughest godly characteristic to achieve and it can be challenging to maintain.
As we wade into our continued study of “The Beatitudes with regard to Humility,” You may want to read the introductory post titled: “Humble Pie.”
We’re going to sit down to a big slice of that pie right now, because nearly every good action we take requires some degree of humility. If you’re reading this post with an open mind, you’re demonstrating humility. Those who are growing in wisdom are keenly aware of the need to hear and assess information, where utilizing humility becomes requisite.
Whenever errors in our thinking are brought into the light, it takes humility to embrace the truth. This is the concept behind that word we’re all so familiar with: repentance. To repent is to undergo renovation in the mind—to change what we believe in a way that impacts a change in our desires. As a result, we turn away from sin and towards God. If we don’t humble ourselves before God, becoming poor in spirit, our minds cannot be changed; our spiritual eyesight will be incarcerated by darkness.
The bible teaches that every person is born under the deceptive powers of sin. But when we’re born of the Spirit, saved, we’re given new eyes and ears to perceive truth, and a new heart that will accept it. God has given us His word to correct our thinking, so that He may inculcate you and I with truth. He gave us His Son Jesus who is truth personified. In Matthew 5: 3, Jesus spoke these words:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Here, the word Blessed means happy and divinely favored. Sons and daughters of the King must become poor in spirit before being granted citizenship in the “kingdom of heaven.” We are need oriented creatures, dependent upon God. Being poor in spirit is indicative of heaven’s residents.
What does Jesus mean by Poor in Spirit?
It means to humble ourselves, to acquiesce to the truth about mankind’s condition without Christ—the truth that the bible teaches concerning mankind in his unregenerate state.
“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” Romans 3:11-12
Here’s where our understanding of grace is so vital to our new lives in Christ, as well as our knowledge of what it is to be poor in spirit. Everything God does for mankind is a grace of God. He proffers many graces, which perform a plethora functions, gifting us in every aspect of life. Grace is technically defined as unmerited favor.
There’s nothing we can bring to God, nothing we can do for Him, and no good works that mankind could perform that would merit eternal life and curry His favor. We must humbly accept that fact. Without God doing something for us simply out of His love, mercy and grace, we’re hopelessly lost. Isaiah informs us that to God “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” What may appear as good to you and me in our finite thinking, is pitifully inadequate when contrasted against God’s true goodness.
God is holy, righteous and pure, and we are not. We must come to Him completely broken in spirit and aware of it. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17
If you’ve ever been close to a herd of horses running wild, you may have noted how spirited they are, strong and proud. A wild horse is not at all useful for riding or working. Their spirit must be broken before they can be tamed, trained, and their strength put to good use. If we’re going to be of any usefulness to God, our spirit of pride must be broken too. We have to pull back on the reins of our hearts, and realize the truth.
We’re totally helpless to help ourselves become good and holy and righteous. Our self-sufficient thinking must change, be broken, our pride broken, and we come to God completely dependent upon His grace. This is being poor in spirit, cognizant of our complete helplessness. We cannot save ourselves.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9a
For the sake of brevity, I’ll merely point you to a good passage of scripture to read as a follow up to this post. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18: 9-14.