“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
THERE IS NO PLACE IN GOD’S KINGDOM FOR THOSE WHO REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE THEIR SPIRITUAL POVERTY. Although we can’t see the depth of our need as fully as God sees it, we certainly can see something of it if we open our eyes. The kingdom is for the honest. If we pretend to be full even though we are empty, our seeking of God will come to no good end.
As individual human beings, we are desperate to believe two things: (1) that we are worth something, and (2) that we are going to have what we need. Larry Crabb has helpfully described these as needs for significance and security. We simply do not have any deeper needs. On an average day, most of our time is spent pursuing these things, and we’ve been endlessly creative in our efforts to get them on our own, apart from God. It turns out, however, that He is the only real source of significance and security open to us. And not only that, His plan requires us to admit the total failure of our own previous attempts at these things.
Yet rather than abandon our futile attempts to fill our own needs, we often try to bring these with us when we come to God, as if we think we’ve been partially successful in filling ourselves up and we just need God to supply the last little bit. This problem of coming to God thinking we are already partly full is an old problem. Concerning some, Paul said, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:2,3). It is hard to admit the failure of our own systems and to come to God with a brokenhearted sense of our need, our poverty, and our emptiness.
But as painful as it is to admit our total bankruptcy before God, there is no other way to be receptive to Him. “In my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling” (Augustus M. Toplady). It is only when our vessel has been drained of its last dregs that it is ready to be filled anew. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Only those who see themselves as utterly destitute can fully appreciate the grace of God” (Erwin W. Lutzer).