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Longing for Poverty of Spirit

By Jeremy Pryor

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

I was deeply struck when I heard Tim Keller once say something like, “It’s not the good people who go to heaven and the bad people who go to hell. It’s the humble people who go to heaven and the proud who go to hell.”

Nothing is more dangerous to the survival of our soul than pride.

But there’s a particular kind of humility that God wants. He wants us poor in spirit.

What does that mean?

Let’s start with understanding it’s opposite. What does it look like to be rich in spirit.

I imagine someone brimming with spirit to be assured to the point of smugness about what they believe and especially their own spiritual condition.

I’ve been watching some videos of late atheist Christopher Hitchens and that man was independently wealthy with spirit. Showing no need for God at all even as he slowly died of cancer.

But on the other end of the spectrum some of the most religious people I’ve ever met were also banking enormous sums of spirit. When they hear of God possibly doing things that fall outside of their God-box their self assurance and lack of neediness allows them to easily dismiss these accounts with a roll of the eyes. They don’t need more of God. They have him just where they want him.

But for those living from paycheck to paycheck in spirit. Those who need more of God every morning or every hour, who are constantly surprised by God’s bigness, his whimsy, who revel in his greatness and their smallness, are in a state of continual poverty of spirit.

We were never meant to spiritually live on inherited spiritual wealth, but instead to live hand to mouth on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.

This kind of God gives only one kind of security. Not the preditable security of horded gold, but the relational security of being guided by a loving Father on a perilous journey.

Because only those poor in spirit will follow this Father on the dangerous, unpredictable road into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Say to God, “blow my mind today, destroy my categories, help me to follow you into the unknown.”