02 Sep Bankruptcy
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3
This is the very first sentence of what is, quite possibly, Jesus’ most famous sermon – the sermon on the mount. It’s the first of a series of blessings that have become known as the beatitudes. I’m going to be honest with you… of all the Christian rhetoric, the beatitudes have been some of the hardest for me to wrap my mind around. “Blessed are the meek…” aren’t we supposed to be strong and mighty in faith? “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” shouldn’t the joy of Christ make our spirits full? “Blessed are those who mourn and are persecuted…” who can call persecution and mourning a blessing?
A few weeks ago at church, our pastor said humility and awe are ignited when we realize that we stand bankrupt before God. That was the moment that it hit me like a ton of bricks! It’s not about what we have or don’t have in this life – being poor in spirit is a matter of the heart. It’s the realization that, apart from Him, I have nothing. I am nothing.
I’m bankrupt. I stand before Him with nothing.
And, boy, can I identify with that feeling. When it comes to my relationship with Jesus, I don’t bring anything to the table except my willingness to love Him and be in relationship with Him. I can’t give Him what I feel He deserves… I’m just a human with brokenness and baggage…
Everything in this world is focused on building your inner strength and honing into your own capabilities (think of the Pinterest boards filled with “You are enough” signs). All around us, we feel like we have to bring something to the table that’s different or better than the other before us. The world wants our hearts beating fast and closed up tight as we hide our weaknesses and bear the weight of the need to perform. We are pressured from all sides to demonstrate our capabilities, but God wants the opposite. He wants us to come as we are, boasting in our weaknesses and allowing Him to provide the power for us to do amazing things. He wants our hearts to open up in humility and slow down as we allow Him (a good and perfect God) to empower us. The burden to perform or present ourselves as something we aren’t is no longer on our shoulders when we’re in relationship with Him. And He WILL empower us, so long as we stand before Him, knowing we’re bankrupt, yet ready to do His will.
It’s in in our hearts. Paul said “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9) That’s bankruptcy. Knowing that you’re not enough, but still being willing walk in accordance with His will without fear because you know that He is enough, and He’s got you.
When you truly acknowledge that you’re bankrupt, you’ll first start to see everything as a gift from God. When you ask Him to move on your behalf – to provide strength, stamina, energy, enthusiasm… whatever it is, when you cannot, you’ll start to feel freedom as it no longer rests on YOUR shoulders to be something better. When you die to yourself and realize you’re bankrupt, and that the God of the universe is the source of all blessings, there’s nothing you can’t do.
This week, I encourage you to look around you and find the small and big ways that He has provided when you could not. Thank Him for them. Then, begin to practice the slow surrender of your moments – big and small – by asking Him to move on your behalf, acknowledging that He is greater, and giving Him the glory. Where’s your heart? If it’s in a need to perform, prove yourself or to work your way to a certain acceptance standard, you will never be satisfied. If you humbly ask for Him to empower you, knowing that you can’t do it on your own (and not wanting to try to do it alone), watch how your view of your life, capabilities and accomplishments change.