A poor-atitude

bad-attitude

There is a difference between a “poor-atitude” and a “bad attitude.”

 

In our previous discussion, we examined the opening words of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes. He begins this kingdom discourse by describing the condition and qualities of its subjects. They are a blessed people, but are so because they demonstrate character traits that are met with the promises God.

The first of these maxims is found in Matthew 5:3 NIV:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This seems like such a lofty statement, or at the very least an unfamiliar one. When was the last time you heard anyone use “poor in spirit” in a sentence? What does it even mean?

The call to be poor in spirit requires that we practice contrition, with contrition being the acknowledgement of one’s sinful state and personal deficiencies. Readily coming to terms with our shortcomings is what fosters destitution in one’s spirit (inner man).

This is a quality that God has always sought. King David, known to be a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), confirms this with his words in Psalm 51:16-17 NIV, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

To be sure, all of us are nothing but broken people. Those that practice contrition, though, do not walk in denial. The premise of David’s writing, even, was to acknowledge his transgressions. Having committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranging her husband Uriah’s murder, it was not until confronted by the prophet Nathan that David exhibited any remorse; there was a time when his broken state did not produce a broken disposition.

The best way to achieve a posture of contrition is by entering the presence of God. Isaiah the prophet instructs us from an experience he has with the Most High:

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:5-7 NIV)

For Isaiah, the awareness of God’s presence made him come to terms with his own depravity. He was sinful, while God was holy; he was filthy, while God was without blemish. God, however, is not interested in finger-pointing, but redeeming. After the prophet acknowledges his sin and shortcomings, God does not say to him, “Yes, that’s exactly right! You are a real disgrace.” Instead, God makes provision for Isaiah’s sins.

By walking in contrition, we give the Lord the opportunity to administer forgiveness and restoration. The reason the poor in spirit are “blessed,” or happy, is because they are recipients of the kingdom of heaven, where things are made new and power is given to overcome. There were people who missed the kingdom during Jesus’ time on earth, simply because they sought to justify themselves and not acknowledge their deficiencies. In one instance, in reply to Jesus, a rich young man asks, “What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20b).

We, of our own accord, lack everything. Apart from the grace of the Lord Jesus, our condition is utter poverty. Every day of our lives, our challenge is to recognize our deep need for Jesus, who became poor that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

It’s never fun to focus on our weaknesses, but it is not for our weaknesses’ sake. The purpose is that we would look to Jesus, who is our eternal source of strength. As we cultivate this spiritual practice, we will be able to testify with the apostle Paul:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9 NIV)

 

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~ by christianballenger on December 5, 2016.

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