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Poor in spirit

1st June 2018

I told you last week about the time I met a young lady who asked me for wisdom. That encounter resulted in me asking myself which of the sayings of Jesus spoke most powerfully to me at this stage of my life. It's:

Matthew 5v3
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I saw so clearly that evening that blessed are those who know they're sinners. Blessed are those who know they're not OK. Blessed are those who know they need forgiveness and healing. Blessed are those who cry out to God for mercy. Blessed are those who know that there's no way they can justify themselves or their actions. They're blessed because God is merciful to those who ask for mercy.

They're blessed because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. God's kingdom is a gift, not a reward.

I went to sleep very peaceful and happy that night.

The following morning I visited a nature reserve. Nature reserves are great places to pray, especially when the weather's fine and very few other people are there, as was the case that morning. I spent a long time walking and praying, and felt free to pray out loud because no-one but God could hear me. After a while, I found myself confessing to God that I'm not a very good pastor, not a very good husband, not a very good father, not a very good friend, not a very good disciple, not a very good witness. I was felling really unhappy. I found a bench, sat down and prayed to God, "Last night, I saw so clearly that 'Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. Now I really am poor in spirit and it's horrible."

And God spoke to me. I'm still so weak, so fleshly, that I was hoping God would assure me that I'm actually rather a good person. But He didn't. He spoke very clearly to me, and I knew it was Him, but all He said was "I love you anyway".

This touched me profoundly. That morning, at least, I was truly poor in spirit. Perhaps I was more willing to admit my weakness and sins to God than I had ever been. God didn't deny the truth - that I am weak in many ways. God told me he loved me anyway!

Oh the freedom! The joy! The security that knows that even when I mess up, God loves me. No matter what others say about me, God loves me.

Blessed are the poor in spirit because God loves us even though we're sinners. God loves me, even though I'm a sinner. He loves me anyway!

My sin is still sin. It's a serious matter, and I'm not trying to pretend otherwise. But I remember that moment, and I call it to mind when I mess up again or when someone is being unkind to me, and I say to myself, "God loves me anyway". I'm surprised how much this helps, but it really does.

God loves me anyway. And that's enough.