May 15, 2015

Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Beatitudes are one of the most famous of all Jesus’ teachings, precisely because they turn human logic on its head, and this very first of them perhaps supplies the key to them all. Poverty is in many ways relative. What Americans consider “poor” would be quite well-off in some countries. Anyone who thinks they are spiritually rich is not going to be seeking more of God. The thing is, though, that since God is infinite, there is always infinitely more that we could have. The tragedy comes when we think we have enough and we stop seeking. This isn’t the same thing as greed or even ambition, it’s knowing that God is always greater and more, and wanting everything He wants for us. If that is our fundamental attitude, then all the other Beatitudes become operative in our lives. The problem, especially in America, is our tendency to confuse material abundance with spiritual blessing. Often quite the opposite is true: material abundance gets in the way of spiritual blessing. This is what John was talking about when he wrote “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) If we are satisfied with material abundance, or if our goals are strictly material, then we will completely miss the kingdom of heaven. We’re back to what Jesus said a little later, that is also extremely famous: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) If our focus is on God and His kingdom, then the material isn’t an issue. If our focus is on the material, then we miss the abundance of His kingdom.

I was raised by parents who had this awareness, but I’ve missed it more than a few times myself. Part of my problem has been that I recognize how abundantly I am blessed, spiritually speaking, and I fail to press in for yet more. As I just wrote, since God is infinite, there is no limit to how much more I can gain of Him. Back in the early ’70s there was a song, I Want More of Jesus. The last line says, “I want more of Jesus, and He wants more of me.” Bob Culpepper, who was my father’s prayer partner for at least the last year before my father died, said that my father liked that song very much, but that he felt the last line should be changed to, “I want more of Jesus, so I’ll give Him more of me.” That’s the right attitude! That’s the way my father lived and died, and I certainly want to do the same.

Father, thank You for the privilege of passing on Your riches to others. Thank You that the more I do so, the more I receive! Help me remember on every level that there is always more of You to be had, and so seek to give You all I know of myself. The world is full of distractions and false goals. Help me indeed stay centered on You, seeking Your kingdom and Your righteousness, so that all of Your plans for me may be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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