“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Who is this God that he would bless those who are spiritually impoverished with the greatest gift of all: the kingdom of heaven? Our God demonstrated his wealth of grace, help, and love to all who were in need through the words and actions of Jesus. Jesus, who came to reveal the heart of the Father, was undoubtedly drawn to the weak, desperate, and estranged. And in comparison to his affection for the impoverished he was incredibly critical of all those enveloped with mankind’s chief sin: pride.
Jesus’ ministry made clear what thousands of years of religion, sin, and the rule of the law obscured: the necessity of being poor in spirit to have true relationship with God. You see, even today we buy into a false doctrine that our works somehow justify us to God. Even today we believe that we must clean ourselves up, do better, work harder, or love more to have relationship with our heavenly Father. Jesus came to obliterate works-based relationship and to reveal God’s heart of unconditional, grace-filled, unchanging, and system-shattering love.
Jesus powerfully illustrates this truth in Luke 18:9-14. May his words shed light on any part of our hearts that still believe we must do something to deserve the affections of a loving Father:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Your Father loves you because he loves you. He longs to exalt you. He longs to bless you. He longs to pour out the full extent of his loving-kindness over every possible area of your life. But to reward you for a works-based mentality is to reinforce behavior that will only harm you. It’s only in acknowledging your total and utter dependency on God that you will be able to receive the depth of his love. It’s only in serving him because you are loved, rather than to be loved, that your works will yield heavenly fruit. It’s only in being poor in spirit that you will discover yourself already perfectly and completely loved, liked, and enjoyed. You will then experience the freedom and joy that comes from uninhibited relationship with God’s limitless love.
Take time in guided prayer to search out the true condition of your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate any part of your life that is works-based rather than grace-based. Be honest with yourself and God that the fullness of your need would be met with the fullness of his love for you.