It happens almost every morning
It happens almost every morning: I wake up to nothing. As the fog of sleep is replaced by dawning self-awareness, the spiritual illumination on my heart is disappointingly dim. I struggle to get out of bed, not finding my soul to be a godward inferno of righteous desire. I’m feeling disheartened and discouraged before I’ve even begun the day! Of course, this disappointment is not limited to morning. Later, when a moment clearly calls for prayer, I often have to drag myself to the privilege. When a friend needs mercy, I struggle to pay the high price of inconvenience to help him. As the hours wear on, I find my spiritual well running dry. The bank of my soul feels empty; my spirit, impoverished.
This morning, though, after I defeated the snooze alarm, dragged myself out of bed and cracked open the Word, I read these words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Blessings abound in the Bible, of course. But a blessing for me? That’s another matter. Yet there it is, in Spirit-inspired words on the page: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
The continual experience of my own weakness and poverty is not a sign of God’s frown. The dimness of my soul is not a dark cloud warning me of God’s coming curse. NO! Weakness and poverty are reminders that I am already blessed. The blessings of Matthew 5:2-11 are not commands, they are comforts. When Jesus says, “blessed are the poor in Spirit” and “blessed are the meek” He is not saying, “you should be blessed” and, “you should be meek.” He is stating facts, not giving commands. If you remember your high school English classes, you might recall the difference between ‘indicatives’ and ‘imperatives’. Imperatives are commands: “you must”. Indicatives are fact: “you are”. When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, He is not commanding you to be poorer. He is commanding you to realize that in your spiritual poverty you are rich. Are you poor in spirit? Then you are rich beyond words! You are going to heaven. The presence of Christ, the streets of gold, the glory of God, the tree for the healing of the nations, the place where righteousness dwells and unspeakable joy reigns, they’re all yours! It’s all coming! You are blessed.
The devil does not want you to know this, but the poverty of spirit you feel is the fruit of the Spirit at work in you. The Spirit has taught you that without Jesus you can do nothing (John 15:5). He has taught you that you are not sufficient for anything God calls you to do (2 Cor. 2:16). If you realize that without Jesus you are capable of nothing but sin, then you have been taught by the Spirit that in your flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18). When you feel that, left to yourself, you are incapable, insufficient, and sinful, that is proof that the Spirit has taught you His richest lessons! The one who is poor in spirit is the one who has been drawn to Christ. The devil wants us to think that our poverty is a sign of God’s judgment, but Jesus is here to tell us that our poverty is actually a mark of God’s blessing!
My poverty is not ultimate. It is not the end of the story; instead, it’s a reminder that before I was reborn in Christ I was destitute, without any spiritual resources. Now, I am still poor, but “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Though I wake up poor each morning, keenly feeling the remnants of my sin, that sin is not the last word. Christ is the last word. More than the last word, He is my life.