To be rich in spirit based on our own accomplishments is to bear the weight of our own spiritual growth. In comparison, when we acknowledge our spiritual poverty before God, thereby contributing all that we do and are to his limitless grace, the weight of our spirituality is lifted off and placed squarely on the shoulders of Jesus, where it belongs. To be spiritually poor is to be incredibly blessed.
I’ve spent much of my Christian life seeking to do good. I’ve gone to church, Bible studies, small groups, accountability groups, and have played in worship bands. I’ve gone on mission trips, fed the homeless, served at food pantries, given up sleep, spent nights out to invest in others, and even dedicated my career to God. But it seemed like with every good work I was doing I had to continually look to the next. I couldn’t take time to rest or enjoy God because the weight of my righteousness and the fruit of my life rested solely on my shoulders. I didn’t know how to live by grace, so instead I filled every waking moment with a fight to do all I could on my own.
Now it’s not that any of those works were inherently bad. In fact, I am continuing to do most of those things today. The difference is found in John 15:5-9 where Jesus says,
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
When we live in acknowledgement of our immense need for God’s help, we place ourselves on the path to abiding. Just as a sheep cannot find food, shelter, or water without abiding in the help of a shepherd, we are in immense need of our Good Shepherd. Problems arise when we see ourselves as more than helpless sheep and try to go our own way by living in our own strength. Pride covers up our true state of need. Being poor in spirit opens our eyes to see our true state of helplessness and helps us lean on the ever ready, capable, and available help of our good and faithful Father.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite'” (Isaiah 57:15). May your day be blessed by abiding in a God who is “high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy,” but is “with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.” May your spiritual poverty lead you to a life filled with the glorious, incomprehensible presence, grace, and love of your Good Shepherd. And may you abide in the loving arms of your heavenly Father as he wholly enriches your life with his loving-kindness.