09.17.14 6am- Family Room Chair
Opening prayer: Lord, help me to understand what it is You are saying, and how I might apply it to grow in relationship with You.
I had planned to read and did read the Beatitudes, which until yesterday I thought were called the “Beautitudes”. I chose this opening on Jesus’ sermon on the mount for the main reason that I don’t really understand it, and I have never tried to. Every time I come to them I skim them or skip past them entirely. So I planned to focus today’s devotion on the Beatitudes, but after digging deeper into the first three and having spent 45 minutes in study and reflection, I realized that this was something that needed more careful thought. So I decided that I will be reflecting on one Beatitude a day.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
- God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.(NLT)
I probably could have saved a lot of time had I read the New Living Translation(NLT) before writing this entry, and perhaps In the future I plan to look more at parallel translations. My confusion in this verse was hanging on what it means to be “poor in spirit”. How is being poor in anything a blessing? If my heart is where my treasure is (Mt 6:20-21), wouldn’t I be rich in spirit if my treasures were in heaven?
My NIV Study Bible was little help, so I turned to my Life Application Bible Commentary on Matthew. What wonderful resources commentaries are! There is a section in the commentary that suggests that we can better understand a Beatitude by looking at it’s opposite, The Un-Beatitudes. It reminds me of something the demon Screwtape would write to his nephew Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.
Un-Beatitude Mt 5:3
- Wretched are the spiritually self-sufficient, for theirs is the kingdom of hell.
Looking at it in this light, is quite powerful. It is the heart of the Gospel. To be “poor in spirit” is to be completely bankrupt, to understand that there is nothing I can offer God. Nothing I can give to merit salvation. The materially poor, if they swallow their pride and realize they cannot support themselves, can live off of the charity of others. When I came to Christ I understood that I am spiritually poor, if I could swallow my ego and accept the gift offered, I could live eternally in fellowship with God. I don’t have to pan-handle or dance around waiting for God to throw a tip into my hat, He had already given the gift. I just had to accept it.
I fall into this trap sometimes. I can get so caught up in the study of Christianity, that I neglect to apply it. As much as I love studying Christian Theology and apologetics, and I think that I am loving God with all my mind, I sometimes feel like I forget to love Him with my heart, soul, and strength. I wonder if I am really studying to make myself worthy to God.
Ending Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for this devotion, the understanding of your word. I pray that you help me to stay on track and not get distracted with other things. I ask that you help me come to you as someone who is poor in spirit, to understand all my motivations, and change those in need. I pray that Your will be done through me, and not by me. In Jesus’ name I humbly pray. Amen!