“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:3
I want to talk to those of you who are poor in spirit. You may not recognize yourself as such: that’s understandable. But if you’ve ever laid wide awake at night, thinking, “How could God ever love someone worthless as me?”, or resigned yourself that you could never be “good” enough to deserve God’s grace, that’s you. You want to do what’s right, but somehow you end up back in the same old destructive ways. You hate the fact that you’re ‘never enough’.
Going back to Matthew 5, Jesus says in the next verse, verse 4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Many understand this to mean those who mourn over such things as loss of loved ones, being afflicted with disease, or other similar things will be comforted in God, and that’s true. But if you look at the previous verse, it takes on a wholly different meaning. It could possibly be interpreted, “blessed are the poor in sprit who mourn because of their pitiable state, who know what they are, because they will be comforted if they will come to Me.” If you’ve ever cried tears on your pillow at night because of what your life is like, you know what it is to mourn.
I understand; I’m right there with you. I’ve done all of it. I tried “do it yourself” Christianity. I fought a pornography addiction for years but could never escape it. I was the man that Paul wrote about in the last part of Romans 7 (I’ve heard discussions on whether Paul was describing a believer or a nonbeliever; honestly, I don’t think it matters, because we all have this same struggle at times). I hated my life because it felt like a lie, which is exactly what it was.
I have good news for you. You are the person who God had in mind when He put his plan of salvation and reconciliation into action. You’re the one He’s seeking. It’s only the ones who are so thoroughly broken, and know they are, who are willing to seek out One who can fix them. It’s why Jesus said that you must hate your own life if you want to be His disciple. You know what that means: you recognize how wretched, worthless, and miserable your life is, and you’d do anything to change it. But you don’t have the power, so you live with your guilt and shame. When you hate your life, you’re desperate to let someone help you change it, or in this case, give you a new one.
In Luke 4, Jesus announced His ministry this way: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” The poor in spirit definitely fit into those categories: so do you. So do I.
Without Christ we are slaves to sin, and Satan doesn’t release his slaves without a fight. He’ll tell you things like, “you’ll never be good enough, righteous enough, for God to love you”. He’ll try to convince you that you’re so evil and lost that you’re beyond God’s capacity to save you. He’ll tell you every lie in his arsenal to keep you from realizing you’re captive, blind, and oppressed, and that you are exactly the person that Jesus came seeking with the gospel (good news) that you can be free from all of that. You don’t have to listen to Satan’s lies any more.
When you come to belief in Jesus, repent (turn away) from your sins and your old life, confess His as Savior, and are baptized, your old life is dead. Romans 6:4 tells us, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” I hope you catch what’s being said. Baptism buries our old life; it’s dead. We have a new life. We are set free from our former captivity to sin. Through Christ, we are made enough.
Satan will still try to convince you that you can’t escape your old life. He will try to condemn you with guilt about what you’ve done and make you believe you can never change. He’ll try to tempt you to go back to that old familiar life of slavery to the addictions and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. You just remind him, “I don’t live there anymore”. That person is dead, buried with Christ through baptism. You belong to Jesus now.
If you recognize your spiritual poverty, by all means, mourn over it, but don’t stay there. God is looking for you. And realize this: when we recognize how wretched and lost we are, we can fully appreciate how awesome and amazing God’s love and grace is. Seek Him, and He will find you.