The elderly man is at the end of his life. After a life full of caring for his family and others, he finds himself helpless. He shook his head in a kind of disbelief as he told me, “I used to teach them things, but there is nothing left.” Another person who wrestles with faith told me that he thinks that God is an idea for weak people, that he is managing his life quite well on his own. At this time, it appears he is. He is strong, self-sufficient, even proud in many ways. Both of these men, who are in very different situations, need the wisdom of Jesus. For one it is comfort. For the other it is a challenge.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3-5, NIV)
That list is not exactly the ideal life in our thoughts, is it? Who wants to be desperate, pushed beyond limit, which is what it means to be ‘poor in spirit?’ I know first-hand, the pain of mourning, of waking up to deep sorrow, day after day, and it is a kind of hurt that has no equal in my experience. Meekness? This is the stuff of mockery and comedy. Meek and weak are synonymous in our thoughts.
But, Jesus opens His amazing sermon about the life that God blesses with these astonishing statements about discovery of the sufficiency of God, about learning our true hope that is secured in Him! He reminds us that at the end of Self there is more, and that ‘more’ is the rich knowledge of God’s provision. Perhaps that stretches credibility for you. At one time it did for me, too. I was, even as a professing Christian, a prideful man, full of plans and convinced that I could do good things by the force of my own ability and strength. At great cost to myself and others I came to know the folly of that kind of life. My greatest regrets come from moments of arrogant self-will in which I was deluded.
God is not a sadist, nor does He desire our destruction. But, He also knows that real life, our best life, is found in knowing Him, secured by the grace gift of Christ Jesus for life here and in eternity.
A young, rich nobleman came to Jesus and in a moment of authenticity asked what he could do find eternal life. He revealed a sense of need in that moment. How did Jesus answer him? He asked him to give away the wealth in which he found his security and to become His disciple. “Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. I say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:21-24, NLT)
Don’t misunderstand this encounter. Jesus had nothing against the man’s wealth. It was his love of it, his trust in it, that was the stumbling block to his spiritual maturity, his discovery of God’s sufficiency for him. Jesus’ famed line about camels and needles eyes is frequently misunderstood as well. It is not a condemnation of the rich. It is His observation that wealth can create the illusion of independence, distancing that person from relying God’s provision, which can make the humility necessary for accepting God’s grace gift of salvation nearly impossible.
Are you in a place where you feel that there is no place left to turn, that you are out of options, ‘poor in spirit?’
Look up! Trust God, who loves you.
Are you broken by life, perhaps by regrets, by the loss of what is dear to you, ‘mourning?’
God is the Healer of broken hearts, the One whose ‘compassion is new every morning.’
Are you willing to become meek, releasing the need to force your way, to serve Ego, ‘meek?’
Then you can find the power of the Spirit and a whole new way to influence the world in which you live.
I didn’t say those things, Jesus did! Perhaps you are not in those places but like the rich young man who came to Jesus, you hunger for more; realizing that life, though good, is more than what you can buy, what car you drive, what clubs you visit. God invites you to know Him, but it is a path of self-abandonment and surrender that allows us to own His grace and goodness.
Here is the word from the Word, that passage from the Message.
““You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” (Matthew 5:3-5, The Message)
Give us ears to hear and eyes to see the Truth. Amen.
I keep fighting voices in my mind
That say I’m not enough
Ev’ry single lie that tells me
I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of
Ev’ry high and ev’ry low
Remind me once again just who I am
Because I need to know oo oh
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
And when I don’t belong oh You say I am Yours
And I believe oh I believe
What You say of me I believe
The only thing that matters now
Is ev’rything You think of me
In You I find my worth
In You I find my identity
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You’ll have ev’ry failure God
You’ll have ev’ry victory
Oh I believe yes I believe
What You say of me I believe
Jason Ingram | Lauren Daigle | Paul Mabury © 2016 CentricSongs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055