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Day One – Poor in Spirit

As I kick off this 8 days of looking at the beatitudes, I should warn you all that I am not a bible scholar. I didn’t attend seminary and am not a Pastor. I am just giving my common, everyday, finite mind application of what these key verses say to me the next 8 days. It is my hope that those that read along will join with me Wed-Friday this week and Monday – Friday next week to apply one per day. If you are joining in, feel free to comment on your reflections as well.

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

About 8 years ago, several families from our church decided to rent a house in Virginia Beach for a weeks vacation. One day while we were on the beach, a friend named John Ballenger asked me what I thought about leading a small group. The look on my face probably said it all. “Shock and Awe” comes to mind now that I think of it. I had no training. I had no idea how to lead a small group. As I said, I’m not a Pastor, Bible Scholar and had actually never read the bible cover to cover (not that it is a requirement of leading a small group). I know I was thinking “you’ve got the wrong guy“.

From the commentaries I read, being poor in spirit is admitting our complete helplessness. It is, as John Piper called it, “the paralysis of low self esteem”. Examples of poor in spirit from the bible would include David, Moses, Abraham and Jacob. Most of them told God “you’ve got the wrong guy“. God didn’t fix their low-self esteem, he advanced his kingdom through it. He didn’t build up them up, he took the area that they felt they were “poor” and recognized it was exactly what he (and they) needed for great things.

Moses didn’t say “it’s about time. I’m the best speaker and leader you’ve got and I’m counting sheep man”. He said “you’ve got the wrong guy”. Had he not been “poor in spirit”, he would not have been just the man for the job. His emptiness, low self esteem and reliance on God was the picture of being poor in spirit.

I mentioned that encounter on the beach because what John Ballenger saw in me I didn’t see in myself. Reluctantly, I accepted the opportunity. While I have led small groups, I don’t think I will ever be the model small group leader, but I know it drove me into the word. I sent me searching, reading, studying, listening and called me to a deeper faith. It created a thirst that, to this day is still unquenchable. If that one area of my life could create all of those things, imagine if I really got serious about the many areas that I am poor in spirit.

How about you? What is the area that you feel completely inadequate when it comes to your faith? What is the place that you hope no one asks you about? Speaking? Leading? Praying? Serving? Your Past? It might just be the area that you are poor in spirit. It might also be the place where God is about to do something amazing.

For further examples, watch this video from Kirk Franklin.

Tomorrow: Those who mourn


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Comments · 7

  • jessica · October 22, 2008

    We were just discussing False Humility tonight in our Beth Moore study. She said “self condemnation does not honor God.” Which is true. We need to stop looking at ourselves w/ our limited vision and trust that it will be God working in and through us. We’re just the vessel.

    Big talk coming from me though… let’s see… your list… ?

    Feeling inadequate in:
    Speaking? … check
    Leading? … check
    Praying? … check
    Serving? … check

    Seems I’ve got my work cut out for me!!! :)

  • mudpuppy · October 22, 2008

    Great thoughts Aaron! Looking forward to the remainder of these 8 days!

    BTW, dad is smack dab in the middle of a sermon series on the beattitudes. How about them apples? :)

  • Stef · October 22, 2008

    Great start to what I am sure will be a great series. I am really looking forward to following along, Aaron.

    I am listening to a series on Brokenness. In a nutshell, God will take you and break you in the areas He needs to. Most of the time, it is in an area that we think we are inadequate. He then let’s us see what we can do to further His kingdom upon rebuilding the inadequacy in a positive light.

    Very excited about this series, brother. Thanks for being open and sharing from your heart.

  • Brian · October 22, 2008

    Aaron, You were are great small groups leader.

  • Jenny L · October 22, 2008

    Great entry Aaron…. I checked your blog this morning before leaving for school. It was a huge encouragement to me b/c I’m LIVING in my area of inadequacy – literally today! I was asked to lead – not participate in – but lead chapel for Cypress Pre-school starting this week. At first I thought the director had me confused with someone else. Why me? I’m not qualified or worthy of such a task. I get really, really nervous in front of groups of people and on top of that – I’m not good at leading songs – just ask Heather. So, the initial thoughts of doing it were scary, but for some reason – I didn’t hesitate at all to say “yes”. God opened that door for me. Yesterday, I had 2 chapels and earlier today finished up the other 2 for a total of 166 pre-schoolers plus their teachers. I don’t know where this is heading or if I’ll make an impact on those kids, but I do know that you challenged me to pray about the areas (and there are many) that I am poor in spirit.
    Thank you!

  • Aaron · October 22, 2008

    Jessica – “we’re just a vessel”. Love that. Keep seeking. He will use it!

    Mudpuppy – Thanks for the encouragement. Maybe your Dad and I can compare notes :)

    Stef – Awesome point on brokenness. “rebuilding the inadequacy in a positive light”. What a great insight. I don’t know that any of us invite that process, but imagine if the world would allow God to do such things. Appreciate you sharing the journey.

    Brian – Thanks for the kind words man. The only real thing I know about leading small groups is that it takes GREAT PEOPLE to make a small group. One person is just appointed to coordinate the direction. Heather and I have been blessed to have great groups with great couples like the Garners.

    Jenny – What a blessing that is to me today. To know that something God laid on my heart he used for a bigger purpose kinda underlines the point about poor in spirit. Somewhere God is smiling that he just taught me another lesson. I think I audibly just heard “it ain’t about you Aaron”. I will be praying that God will speak in and through you to those little children. Although I already know that he has and will. Thank you again.

  • Dawn · October 23, 2008

    Wow, poor in spirit am I! I can’t even begin to list the areas that I continue to pray God works with me on. I did a short study a long time ago that said ‘to be poor in spirit is to be dependent on God’. That’s what I want to be.

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