Let’s take a step deeper and look at what it means to be “poor in spirit”. As we have already seen, being “poor in spirit” is recognizing our total dependence on God–acknowledging that without Him we are nothing. It is not a weakness in the sense of weak and pitiful…it is actually a strength that allows us to do more than we could even imagine–the key is–total dependence on God, not ourselves.
I have a million illustrations from my life of which I will share one. As a leadership team here at LifePoint Christian Church, we always want to live in God’s will. We always want to be sensitive to what he wants for us over what “WE” want for us. We want to be totally dependent on God! Now I can tell you that being poor in spirit, dependent on God over ourselves, is much easier said than done!
We have recently been given the opportunity to purchase an existing church building for our church family. As a team (The Campus Vision Team of 10-15 people) we prayed the hard prayer: “Lord, if this is not what you want for us, please close the doors because we ant what you want for us.” In fact we have prayed that prayer often of the last few years as we have been on this quest to become a more permanent art of the community by finding a permanent home for our church family (We have met in the local YMCA for the last 7-8 years). And I have to say, very often the doors have closed on places we have found.
On this property we are looking at, the doors have flung wide open. Even when we didn’t think we could afford it (God provided). Even when we had concerns (God answered them). And even when we realized that it didn’t have “everything on the list” that we thought we needed (God showed us at each corner what we could do).
The key is, we recognize our weakness, the weakness of being human and often sizing things up on our terms. We recognize that it is best to “wait” for God’s plan rather than force it. The key is…..we recognize our dependence on God!
We have some great examples in the Bible, in the Old Testament of what being “poor in spirit” is like:
GIDEON (Judges 6):
Gideon recognized his weakness. Gideon was a lowly farmer in the weakest Israelite tribe, at a time, for seven years, when the Midianites were making raids at harvest time to snatch the fruits of their labors. God sent an angel to let Gideon know that the Lord was with him and to tell him that he would defeat the Midianites. Gideon sent word to the other tribes and amassed an army of tens of thousands. God told Gideon to send back the army and reduced the group to 300. Here is the key: Listen to Gideon’s humble heart:
Judges 6:15-16 (TNIV)
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
ISAIAH: When Isaiah was called by God to be His servant, his humility was evident when he cried out to God:
Isaiah 6:5-8 (TNIV)
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” [I love verse 8 so much I tattooed it on my shoulder…”Here am I Lord, Send me!]
MOSES: Moses said, “Who am I?” (Exodus 3:11) God tells Moses that he will lead his people out of bondage from Egypt. Listen to his humility as Moses talks with God:
Exodus 3:11-12 (TNIV)
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
ESSENTIALLY, to be poor in spirit means the absence of self-pride and the acknowledgement that we are nothing without God.
Matthew 5:3 (TNIV)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
This is often something that we wrestle with. I say…..wrestle-on!…..keep going! In that wrestling…we become stronger!