Poor in Spirit {Listening to the Beatitudes}

Transitions are a good time for evaluation. I’ve been spending this personal time of transition evaluating life and asking hard questions about my faith, “What’s the real deal?” “Where have I been confused?” “Where is it not real in me?” I’ve been anchoring the answers to these questions from the red letters. For the next several days I’d like to share some of the thoughts I’ve discovered as I’ve listened to the words of the Beatitudes bump around in my heart. When asking identity questions it’s always good to see how Jesus defined a kingdom life. Through this study time, the Spirit has been increasing my devotion to His truth and helping me cut out the clutter.  I hope by sharing, your devotion to Him will grow too. I would be blessed to hear your thoughts, as I desire to learn from you.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

~Matthew 5:3

One of the many reasons I hate politics is that it leverages credentials. All politics—whether the kind practiced in D.C., on Fox news {insert grin}, or around office water coolers—is about establishing who is fit to govern or rule.  Most of us practice it in the form of one up-manship.  “I’ve got the goods; you don’t.”

No questions then about why Jesus would begin His discourse on kingdom identity with the topic of poverty. Heavy on everyone’s mind is “How do I get a spot in this kingdom?”  Answer: By recognizing you don’t have the goods.  You’re not fit to be in charge. You’re not going to be able to power this thing through. Come poor, with nothing, or don’t come at all.

The heart of the matter is humility. The poor don’t tout their credentials or wealth. They’re just thinking about their next meal. They’re not attempting to gain more influence, credibility, or shine up their reputation.  The hole in the knee of their jeans, worn through from hours of begging on another’s mercy is reminder enough of their status in life.

Do I come begging? Do I see myself as one in need with no credentials or one who can offer something? Can I live on the mercy of another or do I need to be in control? In Luke, Jesus contrasts the beatitude of poverty with a sobering statement, “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full” (Luke 6:24). {Look also at the chilling parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.}

We Christians in America have more than just our affluence to comfort us. We have our pride. After all, isn’t our motto ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of being #1?’ We might not say it, but we live it. It bleeds through in our “I didn’t do anything wrong,” “They are so lucky to have me here,” “What would they do without me?” “I can do it!” thinking. No one dare be caught in need. How pathetic.

Don’t you find that much of our ambition has to do with our desire to have others think much of us? So we demand things like respect, power, and position. We want others to notice our accomplishments; to affirm our worth because it will make us feel good about ourselves.

I think Jesus is saying give all that thinking up. Maybe initially we come to Jesus desperate, but it doesn’t take long for our cultural addiction to the self-image to begin to convince us that Jesus is pretty lucky to have us on His team.

Living in Los Angeles I have had the opportunity over the last several months to make an observation.  You will find names and credentials on billboard marquees, book jackets, and conference flyers, but never on the cardboard plea for help held by a beggar on the corner of a street. He doesn’t frame the cardboard with a alma mater license plate.

The kingdom of heaven doesn’t need any big names. It already has the Name that is above every other name. Will you bow? Will you let the holes in them begging jeans show?  Or will you take comfort in your riches and credentials rather than receive God’s call to lose it all for Him?  Isn’t that a tired story (Luke 18:18-25)?  Come poor or don’t come at all.

Dear fellow beggar, what will your little cardboard sign say today? 

What will you need to let go of to be poor in spirit today?

7 thoughts on “Poor in Spirit {Listening to the Beatitudes}

  1. Wow….. i know what my cardboard sign should say. I wrestle between that and what I want it to say. Truth be told, I am a sinner needing His mercy. I get it wrong more times then right.

    • It’s everyone story…only the poor in spirit are willing to tell it. I’ll stand by you and hold my sign…it says the same thing. Thank God for His grace!

  2. Blessed are the poor ( lacking, deficient, dependent, needy, destitute, unfruitful, pitiable) in spirit. I am relieved that God calls me to a place that I don’t have to rev my spiritual engins but can just come like family with my worts showing.

    • Teresa, it is SO relieving! It’s so true about family–we don’t measure their worth based on what they got…only that they’re ours to love.

  3. Pingback: The Blessing of Mourning {Listening to the Beatitudes} | Once Upon a Truth

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