Being without food, money, shelter, or health is not something we wish on ourselves or anyone. Being poor in these material terms is not something we dream about or aspire towards. So, we don’t assume Jesus is glorifying material poverty. It is poverty of spirit that is favoured by God.
This poverty of spirit is all about our recognising our need of the grace of God because of our spiritual bankruptcy. We realise that however good we are, we fall short of God’s perfect goodness and thus are estranged from him.
This does not mean we despise ourselves or that we are incapable of any goodness. It simply means we know we need mercy and forgiveness in order to find acceptance by a holy God. Poverty of spirit is not a personality trait; it is not a prescription for misery.
Rather, such poverty of spirit allows us to enter into God’s sort of life, to live under his loving rule. Our inadequacies drive us to his adequacy. Our poverty has us claim his riches. In passing, we know from the gospels and perhaps from our own observations that those who are materially poor are more likely to recognise their need of help. But there is no automatic advantage in being materially poor.
It has been said that some of us miss out on the delight of salvation because we may not have recognised our need of it. The blessings bestowed on us by being found only come to those who first knew they were lost.