Read His Words Before Ours!
My shoulders heaved as sobs wracked my body. I sat in the driver’s seat of my Expedition, heavy rain pouring down outside.
“That’s it, Lord! I’ve got nothing. I’m done! I can’t do it! It’s You. It’s gotta’ be all You….”
As the rain poured, so did my tears. Soon, I felt His peace.
My desperate cry was met with Love. Part of me began to hope that maybe, just maybe, I was exactly where God wanted me to be.
The Life of a God-Pleaser
The memory of that day is seared into my mind. It’s one of the few times in my life I have realized something was not within my power to do. Naturally confident and overly ambitious, I tend to believe I can (and should) do all the things.
In fact, if you’ve ever read my story, you know I have struggled often with pride and my sense of accomplishment. For too many years, I felt what I did for God far outweighed my heart for Him. This is not what the Bible teaches! In fact, Jesus addresses this specific misconception in Matthew 5:3, where He begins unfolding the Beatitudes.
The word “beatitude” comes from the Latin word “beatus,” meaning “blessed.” It most often refers to these eight verses in Matthew, where Jesus describes a series of Christ-like attitudes we, as His followers, should adopt.
I admit I have often shied away from this portion of Scripture because it baffled me. How could one who mourns be blessed? How could persecution be a good thing?
The more I have come to know Jesus, however, the more I have understood His upside-down economy and appreciate its sheer beauty. The first Beatitude in this series spoke to my heart:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3)
“Poor in spirit,” I wondered. “Could I ever become poor in spirit?”
What It Means to be Poor in Spirit
The Greek word for “poor” in this verse is “ptochos.” It literally means to have nothing and be destitute. To be poor in spirit then, is to come to a place of understanding we have nothing to offer God in exchange for our salvation.
There is nothing within us that could earn His love!
No amount of good deeds could afford His grace.
Our salvation is completely dependent on His goodness, His mercy and His love for us.
To be a Christian is to be poor in spirit, as the only way we enter into His salvation is to know we cannot save ourselves and to put our faith in Christ.
A beautiful illustration of this truth is found in Luke 18, as Jesus tells a story of a Pharisee and a tax collector.
“He [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else:
‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself:
“God, I thank you that I’m not like other people–greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.”
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”
I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
The Beauty of Our God
We see, once again, God is not after our good deeds, but a humbled, repentant heart. What I find so astonishing about all this is not that God would ask us to come to terms with our true state and confess it in His presence, but that He doesn’t choose to lord it over us. A lesser god would step upon our prostrated bodies. A crueler force would rub our faces in our destitution and shame.
But our God lifts our chins and meets our eyes. He promises to embrace the humbled and lift them to a place of honor. (James 4:10) He declares the beggar “blessed” and grants her a position of honor as co-heirs of His kingdom!
Have you faced your own poverty?
Have you confessed your inability?
Through this portion of Scripture, Christ is inviting you, imploring you to do so! It is safe to humble ourselves before the King because He is a loving and wildly generous God. Don’t waste another moment uttering prideful prayers! Humble your spirit and be declared “blessed!”
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!