Poverty of Spirit

21 11 2007


“I know now the form of a servant is a kneeling form.  Consider the things that keep our legs straight.  First there is self-sufficiency.  We need to learn poverty of spirit.”

             – Calvin Miller   “When the Knee Bends”


    I have been used to consider self-sufficiency a virtue.  I don’t like to “bother” other people with my needs.  I feel my personal failures as an acute failure of my God and my life of faith.  My insufficiencies shame me, and I’m always attempting to prove that I don’t have any.
     Before today, I never paid much attention to the first beautitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”   Jesus said the spiritually impoverished are blessed.  What we see as a great lack of determination, fortitude, faith and common sense, Jesus saw as a blessing.  It’s so odd.  Why would he say that?
     The Inuits valued character gifts like honesty, wisdom, courage, and self-control so much that they called people who possesed them “rich,” regardless of their poverty.  Even Solomon wrote in his book of Proverbs, “Get Wisdom at any cost…”   Why would Jesus count a lack of these gifts as a blessing? 
     Perhaps it is because if we are rich in the things of the spirit we become, as Calvin Miller said, self-sufficient.  If we can handle our lives, we don’t need help and we don’t need God.  Already full of good things, we wouldn’t look up for more, and we would miss the best thing of all.
       I have always been ashamed of myself, of my weakness and my lack of self-discipline.  I get depressed easily.  I am easily broken by hard people or cold words.  I become frightened and discouraged when I don’t suceed immediately.  Life, not infrequently, overwhelms me.  I certainly never considered my temperament a blessing.
      But perhaps I am more blessed than I thought, more blessed than the stronger, more confident, more self-assured people I have always envied.  My very weakness drives me into my Father’s arms.  I find shelter in Him because I am so hurt by life.  Because I lack my own strength, I have to lean on His.
      “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Christ said, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Maybe because we’re the only ones desperate enough to look for it, hurt enough to need it, poor enough to ask.




One response

24 11 2007
Grandma Wilhite

II Corinthians 12:7 – 9 …Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, … Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Did you ever think about the power that is afforded to the weak ones? Think how powerful a helpless infant is over his mother! When Mom Wilhite was so terribly sick, a friend cautioned me “Don’t take her for your ‘victim’, or you, yourself will be come the victim. Hope Thanksgiving came with some special, unexpected blessing!

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