Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spiritual Poverty

(I'm returning to posting the devotional "thoughts" I've been asked to write for the Greene County Dailies, so here is the beginning of a series on the Beatitudes)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:3.  Reading this first beatitude sounds like a call to depression.  In one sense it is.  Jesus doesn’t value feeling bad, but what is essential in coming to him is coming to the end of your own resources for being “good.”  To be poor in spirit is to recognize one’s spiritual bankruptcy—I have nothing good enough to merit God’s favor or escape his wrath.  As long as I insist I’m not bad enough for Hell, or I deserve to have my failures overlooked, heaven remains out of reach.  Jesus did not come to offer basically good people a “sin management” program where we make ourselves better with a little boost from him.  We aren’t good in God’s eyes, and we can’t manage sin—it manages us.

So what makes this beatitude a blessing?  It’s the freedom to be honest with God about our condition—honesty that says, “I can’t do this!”  Jesus said elsewhere he didn’t come to save people who consider themselves righteous, but to save sinners.  When you can see your spiritual poverty, you will be able to see the Savior.