This week in our Bible classes, we took a break from our study of the Beatitudes, (we honored 10 graduating seniors, who have had a long journey are preparing to begin a new phase of their lives) but I wanted to comment on what we looked at the week before. Our study of the Beatitudes lead us to “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit.”
Poverty of spirit isn’t an easy topic. As a matter of fact it goes against our nature as human beings. By nature we are or try to be independent of God. We think that our best efforts will earn us a reward, or earn us favor with God. I am reminded of the parable of the two men who went up to pray in Luke 18, the Pharisee and the tax-collector.
“9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ ” — Luke 18:9-14
Poverty of spirit is brokenness, an admittance that we are unable to do life on our own. Poverty of spirit is quite a contrast from the picture of the Pharisee, self-righteous, judgmental, arrogant. The tax-collector knew he had nothing to bring to God other than his broken self, and approached God humbly. We can a learn a great deal about ourselves by looking at the example of others who knew their lives were a mess and were dependent on the mercy and grace of God to renew them.
Nebuchadnezzar is another example in Daniel 4 of one who shows a great contrast between self-righteousness and poverty of spirit. We all would do well to examine ourselves and check our hearts for signs of independence and rebellion. A life of dependence is a life that leads one closer to the heart of the Father. “Blessed are those who are poor in spririt, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When we come to end of ourselves, we can then allow God to reign and rule in and through us.