Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Regardless of our position, power, and prestige in life, we must all be laid low like Paul in his encounter with Christ in order to comprehend our true spiritual reality before God Almighty. We must experience a face-to-face, heart-to-heart encounter with Jesus,—maybe not as dramatic as Paul’s, but just as personal. We must leave behind our personal itineraries, prideful identities, and unyielding ideas as to what we will accomplish in this life. In return, God fills us with himself and his purpose to make us useful instruments in his kingdom. This lock-step relationship with Christ is where the Beatitudes are designed to carry us—but only after our very own Damascus Road experience.
But, salvation, in all its unbelievable richness, is merely the first stage of spiritual existence in the realm of believing. Salvation is situated on the frontier of the Beatitudes. We cannot become spiritually complacent with this first stop and become tenants in the land of lukewarmness, as many are tempted to do, having achieved their objective of eternal security. God desires so much more so that we may become who he created us to be.
We bring from our salvation experience only the cross of Christ. It is our sole possession as we enter the Land of the Beatitudes. No worldly aspirations can accompany us. We must crucify and leave nailed behind any reliance upon a works mentality or other spiritual pretenses.
Our remaking process in the Beatitudes quest embarks with the unearthing of our abject spiritual poverty. From a humanly perspective, the phrase “blessed are the poor in spirit” appears to be contradictory in meaning. We do not normally equate great blessing with a state of poverty, but in God’s economy, meaningful equations are often the reverse of human logic. We equate blessings with abundance and misfortune with scarcity. To the contrary, God equates a blessed life as one absent of the luxurious encumbrances of this world, and misfortune is to be weighted down with these earthly treasures. Consider the sum total of possessions that Jesus had at the end of his life. He had only his robe, which was confiscated by the very soldiers who crucified him. This lack of worldly possessions gave him great freedom to respond to God’s daily direction. No worldly considerations crowded his judgment—only what God inspired him to accomplish in that day.
The poor in spirit approach our God with quiet and confident desperation. John the apostle powerfully expresses this attitude in Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry B. Jenkins’s book, John’s Story: The Last Eyewitness. “We face the ugliness of our own humanity. I cannot stand to be alone in my own presence for another instant! We must feel that God had thrust a lantern into our most inner self and searched us for every weakness, frailty, and sin. We must face the ugliness of our own humanity and be brought to tears.”
We leave behind our ugliness and deplorable sinful state as we comprehend in our heart of hearts that Jesus’ great sacrifice eliminated once and for all our numerous affronts to God, just as he did with Paul. He has forgotten them in the blood of his Son, and so must we. Do not drag behind you the weight of sins that God has forgiven and forgotten. Jesus is the great chain-breaker and releases us from this past. We are heading now into a new land where our future is foremost, and with each step forward, we are farther from our sinful past. The past no longer counts in the Land of the Beatitudes.
Spiritual poverty is a gigantic twofold realization—acknowledging his vast greatness and grasping our impoverished spiritual state. Our heart and mind must grasp both of these opposing realities in this first Beatitude.
God is forever; our days are numbered. He is present in the entire universe; we are confined to a single place and time. His knowledge is inexhaustible; ours is finite and limited. He creates into being with the spoken word; we strive to fashion with our minds and hands. His will is permanent and purposeful; ours is fickle and floundering. His character is pure and holy; our imagined innocence is corrupted with sin. His love is unconditional; ours is selfish and reciprocal. His mercy forgives and forgets; ours is self serving with a memory. God is so far beyond us, and yet our creator seeks his lost creation.
We are paupers who finally find the splendor of our king. Our poverty enables him to make us rich! He is the eternal oasis in our spiritual desert.
God’s desire is not to lord over us, but rather to know us through a deep and loving relationship. He yearns to embrace us with his love and to make us the very best we can be. What a Lord and Savior!
We saints are still in reality spiritual beggars and continually must thank God for the undeserved grace bestowed upon us through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. We can only receive. We can offer nothing. We beggars are invited to enter God’s majestic throne room where he expects his children to mature in their sainthood, not just meander around the periphery of this holy place to which we have wondrous access.
Understanding our spiritual poverty before God is the passageway to the land of spiritual growth. Spiritual poorness produces spiritual riches that we have the privilege to experience and relish every single day here on earth and throughout eternity. James 4:10 exclaims, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and he will exalt you.”
The poor in spirit are blessed to experience heaven on earth. Theirs is the “kingdom of heaven” whether here or there. They desperately seek God because they realize that they desperately need God. Their highest priority is daily communion with him in order to contemplate his greatness and receive spiritual instruction and insights that further reveal the deep realities of his kingdom.
The Beatitudes are not a lazy-river experience in which you just drift along and enjoy the scenery. No, the Beatitudes will sweep you into a new land where racing rapids will carry you through rough waters, cascades, and steep spills, each with an overpowering cleansing effect on your heart, soul, and spirit. Occasionally, these rapids will give way to quieter waters, but get ready. Another spiritual thrill always awaits you!
Jesus has come so far to find you, to save you, and to bring you to and through the door of the first Beatitude. Here the poor in spirit bow in brokenness to comprehend God’s great reality and the richness of his kingdom.
Consider yourself now a spiritual knight, equipped with his light within and ready to commence your quest for the remaining Beatitudes. Prepare yourself for quite a journey!
Our prayer to live out the Beatitude of the Poor in Spirit:
“Lord, reveal my true spiritual poverty and your great majesty and riches to me. Lead me into an ever richer and more sincere relationship with you, my Savior. Help me to become the who you want me to be.”
None at all is like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Jeremiah 10:6
For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Psalm 51:3
Thought for meditation:
• Ask God how he will amaze you today, and watch for his answers. They will be totally different each day.