"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." -Matthew 5:3 (NRSV)
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." -Matthew 10:39 (ESV)
"I'm nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; You've got what it takes..." -Psalm 40:17 (MSG)
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To His disciples, Jesus starts off His lesson quite boldly... "Happy, blessed, honorable, and fortunate, are those who are 'poor in spirit,' for they have access to and ownership of the Kingdom of Heaven."
And if we are honest, this claim is so counter-cultural.
We live in a society where blessings flow from riches; happiness is expressed with wealth; greatness is hand in hand with success; and responsibility is connected to possessions.
Every single day, we and the world around us fight to be more; to do more; to accomplish more. We work to be seen, known, and honored. We make gains to experience growth and purpose. And we celebrate and elevate those whose lives appear "glorious."
Yet into this, Jesus speaks something so different. Blessing, honor, and fortune come from being poor.
Now hear me out. The purpose here is not to convict you to give up your possessions. And it is not to convince you that wealth is bad.
Being poor means much more than the physical expression of the word. It demands a new mindset; a new set of beliefs, behaviors, and habits.
And when poor in spirit, we are given something incredible: God's Kingdom.
But know this: The Kingdom of Heaven is anywhere that God is working. And with this definition we find that Jesus is teaching something so powerful. There is an amazing connection between being "poor in spirit" and living everyday with the real-life experience of God-at-work.
And as you can piece together, being poor has much to do with our submission and surrender to God. In a very obvious sense, we were given salvation because of our awareness of being poor; it is what brought us into the Kingdom in the first place.
But as we live out this "spiritual poverty" more and more, we become increasingly aware of that Kingdom; of God's doing, His moving, and His loving. It is a mindset that we had at salvation, but must continually grow in.
So to keep it practical, I want to dive into the mindset of being poor. And apart from the obvious fallen-nature of all humanity, we can learn a lot from those living in poverty. Below are two main qualities that we are called to mirror.
1. The poor in spirit live in the now. If you have ever experienced poverty, you know that it demands for your focus to be on the present. You live meal by meal, paycheck by paycheck, day by day. Every moment, you are aware of your surroundings. You're looking for answers. You're searching for the immediate. And you're willing for anything. When in need, you have a clearer understanding of what you are responsible for and what you should simply give up.
In our spiritual life, this kind of mindset would do wonders. God desires for us to live day by day, hand in hand with Him. He desires for us to be so in tune with the now that we are aware of His movement, His desires, and His will.
And without a doubt, we are to take ownership of our present responsibilities; the people we are called to love, the decisions we are called to make, and the work we are called to do.
And if you think about it, it is in the present that we are able to think clearly and obey intentionally. In the now, we can see the needs of others, discern what God is drawing us both away from and towards, and become willing and ready for anything.
Ask yourself: Are you aware of your present? Has your focus been on the immediate? What changes do you need to put in place to keep your mind in the now?
2. The poor in the spirit recognize their neediness. Without a doubt, when you are poor, you know it. You feel it physically, mentally, and emotionally. In a very real way, you recognize your most basic of needs. And without a doubt, you have no room for pride. To eat, it sometimes means that you must humbly ask for help. To provide, it sometimes means that you must admit that you can't do it alone.
You see, the most dangerous thing a believer can do is neglect the recognition of their needs. And sadly, I see it way to often... Pride silencing any vulnerability, fear blocking out any authentic request, and denial keeping anyone from admitting their real struggles. Yet in every case, the unspoken need ends up creating a barrier between them and God's Kingdom; between them and God's people.
But it is when we are needy that we are most connected with God and each other. For it is when we are weak, that God's strength becomes one with us. It is when we are in need that He provides. And it is when we are vulnerable, that both connection and healing becomes a reality.
Ask yourself: Are you aware of your current needs? What are they? Have you voiced them lately? Are you willing to ask for help? To be vulnerable and honest?
Ultimately, our prayer is that we can be people who live in the now while owning our present needs. Today, take part in God's Kingdom by living out the mindset of spiritual poverty. I challenge you to take the needed actions.
Be present and be needy.
Thank you for joining us on Part 2 of our Blessed series. Please help us out by sharing it with others! Also, if you missed Part 1, you can find it using the tabs below.
Greg, Declare Glory