Quizzed about small groups at a church function Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend were asked, “What difference do you see between groups for people with problems and groups for normal people?”
Spiritual poverty is acute sight of our condition in the basis of reality—we are all fallible, broken and needy “problem” people, even to the heads of government, psychologists, super-pastors, princes and princesses, and child prodigies.
The obvious answer to the abovementioned question was bemusement... “Who exactly is ‘normal’?” might have been the response.
Seeing – Then Applying – the Truth
The moment a person sees this reality, bridging with it the humility to not be overwhelmed by it, is the time when repentance (a turning before God) is about to take place. The heavenly host rejoice over one sinner repenting! (Luke 15:7, 10)
The moment of beheld truth is the instance of spiritual poverty, confusing as that might sound.
The trouble for most people is we commonly see the problems of others whilst being blind to ours. Others, though they are relatively few, can’t see others’ problems for their own. These accentuate their difficulties to the point of insanity at the extremes.
The spiritually impoverished straddle these two above.
They see their personal lack in the sight of God but they aren’t overwhelmed in misery because of the fact. Grace’s truth ushers in and over their spirits. They’ll see the truth and use that as a platform for applying truth to all facets of their lives, as far as they’re able.
The Paradoxical Blessedness of Repentance
The false apostles are known most visibly for their abnegation of the penitent way. Indeed, they’re dropping any semblance of their own (and others’) lack... after all—in their false minds—Christ has delivered them from all this. (We’re delivered of the eternal cost of our sin, but the sin remains.)
This is a lie that Satan propagates, not God. The ‘prosperity gospel’ has much to answer for.
Jesus’ first beatitude was, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 [NRSV])
He did not say, “Blessed are the rich in spirit.”
And the point is riches don’t get us reliant on God or anyone or anything other than ourselves. An attitude of richness is pride and that contends with the humility that would better serve us. There are still too many proud Christians—they laud ‘the victory,’ worshipping proudly, without remembering the actual basis of faith.
Our Saviour went to the cross to redeem us from our sin... yes, that word “sin” again.
The proud are known by their aberrant denial of the sin problem. Jesus went to the cross because it was the only way to reconcile the issue of sin from eternity’s perspective. Day by day, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we’re made new, but we still have this sinfulness to deal with.
Repentant people are driven headlong to God because of their need. They cannot live without the Lord. This is the believer who is most blessed of God, for they’ve turned hard toward the heart of God and that is a situation the Lord cannot resist. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.