The way to happiness, according to Jesus, is not only different to what we assume but the very opposite of what we think. The very thing we try to avoid is what Jesus says will generate happiness.
Jesus actually names eight painful, or at least uncomfortable, things that we must explore if we would be happy. On the surface this doesn’t make sense. Jesus is teaching us to do what we have been culturally preconditioned to avoid and the first stop we must make is “Poor in Spirit.”
“Poor in Spirit” is a condition we must embrace, a choice we make, a place we intentionally visit. If this was processed involuntarily why mention it. That’s like saying everyone whose heart beats will live. The reward for embracing “Poor in Spirit” is the Kingdom of Heaven. Not citizenship but position.
The Kingdom of Heaven, which is here on earth, includes responsibilities and recognition. When we manage the responsibility well we can expect to be acknowledged. Every Christian is in the Kingdom but not all are equally achieving. Many faithfully go through the motions but disappointingly get nowhere, accomplishing little. We need to think about that. Being faithful is important but being effective is the point.
To understand this we must ask a couple of questions and the first one is what conditions or states of being are associated with “poor in spirit?” In other words, if a person is poor in spirit how do we describe them, what are they feeling? There are several words that answer the question:
Discouraged, frustrated, afraid, angry, fatigued, disappointed, disheartened and so on.
The second question, and probably the more important one, is when do these feelings occur? The answer? They occur when we move outside our comfort zone on the way up and forward.
“Poor in Spirit” only occurs as we transition from one level of development to another. We usually refer to that as “Change” but we must be careful to differentiate this kind of change from fickleness. Changing clothes, hair styles, friends or adding to your tattoos doesn’t apply. Getting older and deteriorating as we all do, also doesn’t apply. These types of change express or result in unhappiness, sometimes bitterness. Style changes may be one way to mask your unhappiness so it is nothing more than a cover up.
The changes we should make produce a greater sense of confidence and self assurance, things that accompany a happy mindset. These types of changes make us better more capable people regardless of age of fashion.
Constructive change, rather than deterioration is the object. Developing in useful ways should be the intent of every person’s journey and should occur throughout life. As time goes by we should become better and more effective. If we don’t, we get worse. Leveling off is not an option.
The development process fails, however, when we become so comfortable on one level that we fail to move to the next, that is, we give up and quit. Constructive development in any person’s life requires focus and determination. Moving to the next level can at times be frustrating. It is natural to experience discouragement, fear and even anger during this process.
But the point is, Poor in Spirit is only experienced at or beyond the edge of our comfort zone. If we live mostly within the limits of our known abilities we will avoid it completely. Doing only what you know you can do easily is a way of avoiding the “poor in spirit” moments in life. Attempting things beyond our established adequacies is a scary proposition.
There are three different levels of ability in life’s journey:
- Developed abilities. This should be constantly changing. Some do this well and continue to carry on. Others become despondent and settle in to a mundane life style that goes nowhere.
- Potential abilities. This should be our constant target. Everyone has potential. To reach it requires an intentionally focused effort over an entire lifetime.
- Impossibilities. This is more the achievements we attempt, which others think to be beyond our capabilities, than actually impossible.
Poor in Spirit happens when we aim to develop our potential and especially when we aim to accomplish what others say is impossible. People work through many discouraging moments to reach their potential. People who do the seemingly impossible live with the fear of public ridicule all along the pathway. Very few can bear the thought.
Discouraged and afraid are “poor in spirit” moments, which many people refuse to visit or live with for very long. Working through those moments, on the way up, is what leads us to “happy.”
There is a very broad gap between the things we can easily do (the status quo) and the outward limit of our potential. Public approval is highest when we aren’t trying to achieve. People who attempt to reach for their limits are thought foolish and trusting God to accomplish the impossible is considered fanatical. But, this is what gives a person recognition and position in God’s kingdom.
There are several examples in the Bible:
Joseph was poor in spirit when he was sold as a slave.
Moses was poor in spirit when he first attempted to deliver the Israelites from slavery.
Abraham was poor in spirit when he was trapped in a polygamous relationship. This was caused by his personal failure but even that when processed properly motivates us to a higher and better place.
David was poor in spirit while running from Saul.
None of these men gave up. They endured and were shaped by their experiences. Eventually, each one accomplished great things.
How are you doing? Where are you going? What do you THINK!AboutIt?