18 February, 2015

Poor in Spirit?

Cross post from www.fortyfaithful.blogspot.com
Welcome to this Forty Faithful journey.  For this period of 40 days, Scott and I will write eight
blogs for you to ponder.  We will be studying Matthew 5:1-10 and intersect these words of Jesus with the approaching celebration of Easter.  We have no predisposed outcome for you or ourselves...we are simply on a journey to know our God in a new way.  Read, think deeply and pass it on...

Forty days before Christmas was mid-November.  By mid-November last year I had Thanksgiving planned, company coming, a few Christmas gifts purchased, and the cooking scheduled!  By the end of November, Thanksgiving was over, I was stuffed and already stressed but the tree was arriving!  Stockings were to be hung, more food to be cooked and for heavens sake a party or two to attend.  It was a busy forty days as we approached Christmas.  I wrote and talked about the lack of time and the lack of concentration I was putting toward the REAL reason for the Christmas season!  The commitments were too many and my to-do list too long.  Yes, it was the birth of the Savior of the world...and we celebrated...and the hubbub kept building...until finally January 2. (or in reality after the College Football Playoff Championship game).  It was then that my world went quiet or at least back to routine.

Now here we find ourselves forty plus days away from Easter.  My to-do list isn't as long as the December one.  I haven't the parties to attend or cooking to get done.  I have few guests coming my way.  And my box of Easter decor is much easier to attend to than the droves of boxes marked Christmas.  But yet...these forty pre-days of Easter are even bigger and better and more hope-filled than one could ever imagine.  Will you think me daft if I express that these days of Easter are our most significant of the year?  This Easter Sunday celebration is THE celebration!  So how blessed we are to have moments, 40 days of moments to think and ponder as to what is coming, Who is coming!

Jesus speaks difficult words to us in Matthew 5:3.  These words are the first of our forty day journey towards Easter.

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

These words are difficult to me because I do not fully understand their meaning and I really struggle in applying them to my life.  How is one poor in spirit?  Is it too a journey?  How does one become 'poor in spirit'?  I read a comment from Billy Graham on this question,
"In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own spiritual emptiness and poverty.  We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we really don't need God."

Self-satisfied and proud Dr. Graham says.  Those words make me squirm for if I'm self-satisfied I've stopped looking for my satisfaction in the One.  On a daily basis, can I become poor in spirit?  I confess that many times my own will is not poor in spirit but puffed-up and proud.  Do we realize our own emptiness and poverty?  In this land of the free, American dream do we try and self-satisfy?  Are we too 'rich' in all things to truly become poor in spirit?

Surveys in the United States show that religious commitment is generally somewhat higher among people with less income and Christians in less affluent countries like Nepal, Guatemala, Kenya or China often are prepared to pay a higher price for their faith than most Western Christians. In Bible studies among students from different kinds of colleges and backgrounds [we find] that students from poor homes, struggling to pay their way through college, frequently understand this passage better than those students for whom the road is easier. Source: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

This scripture is a call to embrace our poor-ness.  It is not a call to live as poor-pitiful-me but it's an opportunity to recognize the poverty of my soul, the complete need of my heart and then to receive the richness of the Kingdom.  If I am living a life poor in spirit - isn't every second a gift and blessing?  Shouldn't I fall out of bed in the morning and be face-down in need and in thanksgiving?

We have forty faithful days to ponder...