10 May What it Means to be Spiritually Poor
The aftermath of my family’s bankruptcy and foreclosure was one of the most positive, formative experiences of my life. People look askance when I say that…like I’m delusional for defining my adolescence by financial instability and blessing at the same time. Of course, the disciples probably looked at Jesus the same way when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5:3) After all, who in their right mind would consider the destitute to be fortunate?
Living in “spiritual poverty”
To clarify, He and I aren’t talking about the same type of poverty, but they’re related. As Pastor John explained in the first message of our new series on The Beatitudes, Poor in Spirit, Jesus drew a spiritual parallel with financial want–something far too many of us understand. Many of us also understand the strength and maturity that can be attained in moments of inability or lack.
I can look back on those difficult childhood memories as a “blessing” because I learned that self-reliance is a joke.
When my parents were unable to pay the bills, we discovered the importance of humility and the power of charity. I was lucky enough to receive mentorship from people who knew how to trust God; they taught me to walk confidently by faith, even though I was completely unable to improve our situation.
Spiritual dependency makes us real
The disciples who have realized their own insufficiency are fortunate in a very similar way. They’re well acquainted with the comfort of depending on a strong savior. Though their sin left them broken and helpless, they discovered the power of God’s love–and in admitting that condition, have allowed God to do the saving and restoring for them.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. They understand what it is to be human.
For those of you that have come to terms with “spiritual bankruptcy” (as John Piper calls it in his own series, also titled The Beatitudes), learn to live accordingly. It’s time to stop acting like we’ve got it together, or like we have something to offer on our own.
Don’t just internalize that as spiritual truth; do something about it! Here are a handful of ideas to get you started:
- Be real about your sin, confess it before God, and leave it behind.
- Remember you were broken, but he made you new. Never stop thanking him!
- Be encouraged by God’s grace rather than praise from your peers (or yourself).
- Respond to that grace by demonstrating mercy and love to others!
- Identify your weaknesses, and count on the strength of other believers to help you through.
By all accounts, we’re better off for accepting our poor condition. Some might even call us “blessed.”