First in the blessings that Jesus brings on the mountainside is to be poor in spirit. Matthew 5:3,
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The message translation helpfully puts it like this,
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope, with less of you there is more of God and His rule.”
It’s not a direct translation nor is it meant to be, but you get the point. When we realise we have nothing to give, that we are spiritually bankrupt before God, well that, according to Jesus, is a good thing. It really is no bad thing when we realise our massive need of God.
Some of the hardest times in my life have been the times when I have known the presence of God strongest. Not that one should go looking for trouble, but when we realise our brokenness before God, it means he can rebuild us as the man, woman or child that He wants us to be.
To be poor in spirit is to be content with our lot. It is not to moan or whinge at our portion, but to be content. Just spend a few minutes in your local coffee shop, moaning and whingeing is the langague of the world- we should stand for something different and present a different spirit.
We constantly centre our lives on our selves and the pursuit of always having more: furthering our career; visiting as many countries as possible, the latest TV set or maybe having a new
The pursuit of more, thinking that will bring us joy & happiness is the very opposite of contentment, instead whether we have a little or a lot, we could be seeking to add value to the lives of others. In doing this we can be poor in spirit instead of rich in the world.
Our joy and worth has to be found in something more, something deeper, in walking right with God- when that’s the case as the hymn puts it; the things of earth grow strangely dim. We have a choice to make.
The Greek term for poor in this passage literally means destitute or having nothing. Jesus doesn’t just mean it like I’m poor this month, I can’t pay a luxury item bill like Sky TV- it’s not a first world problem that Jesus is talking about here. The word means poor- properly lacking.
So I want you to picture a beggar, that kind of spirit of nothingness is what God wants. So often the narrative is: I want to be strong. God doesn’t want you to be strong; He wants to be strong in you and for you. Just as a beggar is completely dependent upon the mercy of others, that’s how we should be before God- dependent upon Him. He wants us to live in such a way that demonstrates our dependence upon Him, not for show and not for the world, but for His glory.
Can you imagine if a beggar in your town had his begging bowl full of money or other items, what would you think? You would think- self-sufficient, they don’t need my help. What if our being rich in the world paints that picture back to God- that we live in such a way that rejects our need of Him?
In my lifetime I have heard lots of talk of “revival is coming” and “the kingdom is advancing.” This often is all words and no action. I firmly believe that we see the kingdom advance when we are living a God honouring, counter cultural life. It starts in the place of brokenness not prosperity.
We need to empty our self, so we can be filled with more of Him. Filled with His Spirit to do His work. Less of our treasure, more of His. His Spirit equipping us for every good work.
We need to be broken before God, to recognise our need of Him and then, ours will be the kingdom of heaven.