“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
To be poor in spirit means to recognize that we are creatures. This may well be a description of repentance, for sin began when Satan told Eve that if she ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil she would be like God and she and Adam ate the fruit. Sin is creatures trying to be self-sufficient, trying to be their own creator, and so repentance means turning from this desire and insistence on being our own and our own creator and recognizing that we are creatures.
It is because we are creatures that we are completely dependent on the grace of God. It is because we are creatures that there is very little of what we call ‘ourselves.’ It is because we are creatures that, not only did we not make ourselves and we are kept in existence solely by the will of God, but also that we cannot even make ourselves what we want to be, even what we are does not belong to us; we are what God makes us; remember the clay in the hands of the Potter? There is no power in us to do good or even to do or be anything; we are dependent entirely on grace not only to exist but to do good (or anything else). A feather would knock us over; a breeze would blow us away. This is not because we are sinners, but because we are creatures.
The Fall, the sin in the Garden, consisted of these creatures, who have nothing of their own, not even their own souls, trying to be like their Creator – trying to be little creators. It is not sin that made us frail and weak, unable to do anything on our own, with nothing in ourselves; rather, sin is a protest against this fact, inherent in the nature of a creature and full of blessedness; sin was these creatures, like the morning mist that vanishes and has no substance or shape of its own, shaking their fists in their Creator’s face and saying that they did not want to be creatures; they did not want to be nothing and to have nothing but that which God continuously poured into them, Himself. We wanted to be able to keep some of the goodness for ourselves, to be able to have some kind of goodness and being in ourselves. That is sin, and it broke the fellowship between God and the creatures. The natural consequence is death of all kinds. Wanting to have life in ourselves – to be ‘gods’ – we ceased to receive the life of God into our souls. All the evil in the world is a result of this sin. To be poor in spirit requires repentance not so much because it means recognizing that we are sinners who have lost all goodness that we had and bring only evil, but because it means recognizing that we are creatures, who never had and never can have any goodness in ourselves to keep and to call ours, and sin is a rebellion against that truth that we are creatures and God is our Creator, and so sin must be renounced, turned away from, to be poor in spirit.
This is also expressed in the prayer Jesus taught to His disciples, in which He taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It is our daily bread that we need. It is the grace for this very moment that we need. We are too small, too weak, too frail; we cannot even receive more than our daily bread, for we cannot hold or store up grace in ourselves. The desire for security, the desire to have or see tomorrow’s grace, to have or see the grace for needs and trials that are not yet, is sin – it is a desire to (even though we rely on God to give us grace or security, provision) not rely only on God but to rely on something that God gives us that we can keep in ourselves, to rely on our experience of what there is in us, to rely on what our eyes can see or our hands can feel. It is a desire to have something other than God Himself in which to trust. (After all, God’s grace and provision for our souls is He Himself; it is, in fact, an impossibility to ask for something beyond the moment, for God cannot give Himself to us now for something in the future. For one thing, we are creatures and the very grace He gives us, He Himself, which we need for the moment is far bigger than us. Even so, we can hold nothing in ourselves; we cannot store up grace or provision in ourselves; we cannot keep ourselves; we cannot keep our resolutions to ourselves; we cannot even be ourselves. There is simply not that much to us.)
It is because we are sinners that we fight this. It is because we are sinners that we are not comfortable being poor in spirit and looking to God in every moment for the grace and provision for that moment. It is because we are sinners that we want to see, that we want to rely on something other that God Himself and His promises. But, it is because we are creatures that we are poor in spirit, that we are beggars who have nothing to bring but need, and this is a most blessed state, for it is God’s delight to fill our need – which can be satisfied by nothing less – with Himself, with love, with blessing. His desire is to continuously fill continual need with continual blessing. It is a very blessed thing to be a creature, to be poor in spirit.
Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale