At church this fall we are working through Jerry Bridges' Respectable Sins. Simultaneously I've started a new Bible study working through the Sermon on the Mount by Jen Wilkin. Both have been rather encouraging, or perhaps discouraging, depending on your vantage point. I'm not really very far into either, chapter 7 in Bridge's work and somewhere in Week 3 in Wilkin's. But I've been very convicted through both of them about my lack of a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit to work in and through my life. Not so much that I don't think he does, because I know He does. But more, my awareness of it, and my daily dependence on Him for strength and acknowledging that fact.
I'll ask you some questions that I've been asking myself lately.
Are you Poor in Spirit? To be poor in spirit is to recognize that just as a person who lives in poverty does not have sufficient resources to care for themselves, you too, do not have sufficient resources. Only in this case, it's spiritual resources. None of us has the resources to function spiritually, to be fed and nourished, to thrive on our own. But understanding and acknowledging that fact as very important. Because Matthew 5:3 says that 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.' I'll rephrase that for you. Blessed are those who recognize that they aren't enough, that they can't thrive spiritually on their own, for God's resources are at their disposal. As I pray on my way to work every day that thought has been going through my mind and it is SUCH an encouragement. I'm pretty sure that I've been living in my own strength lately. Trying to change on my own at some level. But just admitting that I'm not enough is so freeing, and Jesus himself here makes it very important because the reward for acknowledging my spiritual poverty is God's Kingdom, all of His resources! It frees us because it makes it about Him. Not that we don't have to try, because we do. We have to put forth the effort, working out our salvation. But I know that my God is working at changing you and me, so our effort will reap an eternal reward, because God will continue our work and finish it!
Do you Mourn your sin? I've been thinking this through as I go through Bridge's book, analyzing my life and looking for those respectable sins that I so often overlook. Am I even sorry for them? Or do they just get brushed off as 'common to man.' We should be mourning our sin, because that sorrow leads to the greatest comfort possible.... in the gospel! Matthew 5:4 says 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.' This is specifically referring to mourning our sin and there is no greater comfort than the one who redeemed me. His shed blood for our sins can be our comfort. The fact that he crushed sin and death can be our comfort.
Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness, or are you more eager for something else? This for me really relates back to the whole poor in spirit concept of recognizing my need. Because when we realize how poor we are, that we indeed are in spiritual poverty on our own, we will hunger and thirst after Godly, right things. We will crave them. And this can affect so much of our lives, our priority at spending time in the word and in prayer, our entertainment choices, our friendships, the way we communicate with those around us. Wow.