5 Key Elements of being the Poor in Spirit
When I was practicing spiritual devotions this morning, I saw the following verse in the Bible: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3), and I thought: Why did the Lord Jesus ask people to be the poor in spirit? And why shall the poor in spirit enter into the kingdom of heaven? As I was contemplating this, some thoughts came to my mind: When the Lord Jesus came to do work, much of His work vastly differed from the work of Jehovah God. For instance, Jehovah God did His work and guided people in the temple, and His requirements of them were complying with the laws and the commandments, making sacrifices, and worshiping Him in the temple; while when the Lord Jesus came, He did not do His work in the temple. Instead, He led His disciples to the towns and villages to spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, asking people to repent and confess their sins. And He told the people at that time: “the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. … when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him” (John 4:21–23). As for how to treat the evil, Jehovah God required “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” of people (Exodus 21:24), whereas the Lord Jesus said: “You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38–39). And so on. At that time people all held fast to Jehovah God’s laws. If they were not humble, did not seek the will of God, they would be much likely to deny and condemn the Lord Jesus, not to mention accepting the Lord Jesus’ work, which is impossible. People didn’t know that the Lord Jesus came to carry out new work and lead human to progress forward. Therefore, the Lord Jesus taught us to be a man with humility, hoping that we would not lightly jump to conclusions or judge the things we don’t understand, but seek more. Only in this way can we be protected rather than be punished and lose the opportunity to enter into the kingdom of heaven because of blindly condemning God and thus offending His disposition.
Then I thought: When the Lord Jesus comes to work again in the last days, if His work is different from that He had done during the Age of Grace, can I humbly seek and accept His new work like those disciples who followed Him? If I fail to recognize the Lord when He comes again, will I not be much likely to set foot on the path of resisting God like the Pharisees? During these last days, the critical moment of welcoming the return of the Lord Jesus, what should I prepare? And how to be a seeker with humility? With this question, I searched many passages of the scriptures and some spiritual books. Thanks to the Lord’s guidance, I reaped some rewards …
1. Don’t Be Arrogant and Truth-hating Like the Pharisees
As we all know, the Lord Jesus brought the work different from that in the Age of Law. Seeing that the Lord Jesus didn’t abide by the law, didn’t observe the Sabbath, the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees didn’t seek or investigate but arrogantly draw a conclusion that the Lord Jesus’ work went beyond the Old Testament. They condemned the Lord Jesus, “This man is not of God, because he keeps not the sabbath day” (John 9:16). From the scripture we can know that the Pharisees confined God’s work within the law of the Old Testament, and thereby they recklessly judged and condemned Him and denied His work.
In addition, what the Lord Jesus did at that time, healing and casting out demons, and performing miracles, shocked all of Judea. The Pharisees had ever heard of the Lord Jesus’ work, and what’s more, some of them had ever seen it with their own eyes. However, not only did they not seek or investigate it, but they also blasphemed and condemned the Lord Jesus without a trace of fear, saying that the Lord Jesus spoke blasphemous words (see Mark 14:61–64), saying that “He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils” (see Mark 3:21–22). More than that, as the Lord Jesus was preaching in the synagogues, they even attempted to stone Him. It is clear that these Pharisees were arrogant and truth-hating by nature, and that they had no place for God in their hearts, speaking and acting without any reverence of God. Faced with the Lord’s work, they stubbornly held onto their own conceptions and imaginations, defined and resisted God’s work at will. Never did they give up their thoughts to seek or accept the truth. It was their arrogant and truth-disobeying disposition, as well as their truth-hating and God-resisting nature that caused them to not investigate or seek the Lord’s work with humility but manically condemn and oppose it, so that they finally walked on the path of resisting God while believing in and serving God.
2. Give Up the Position
It is recorded in the Bible, “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:47–48). At that time, the sermons the Lord Jesus preached and the miracles He performed shook up all of Judea, there were a lot of people spreading the Lord Jesus’ name and the facts of His work, and more and more people were following Him. The Pharisees knew clearly that the Lord Jesus’ work and words were full of authority and power; if He continued His work, then religious followers of Judaism would all reject them and follow Him; and finally the Judaism would be in paralysis and closed down. All these made them terrified and anxious. For the sake of protecting their own status and livelihood, they spared no effort in condemning, making up rumors, and framing the Lord Jesus. What’s worse, they even colluded with the Roman government to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross in the end. It is evident that the Pharisees’ belief in God was not for pursuing the truth, nor were their intentions of working and spending to do the will of God, and pursue loving and satisfying God. So they were unwilling to seek God’s work humbly even if they had seen the authority and power of the Lord Jesus’ work.
3. Have a Fear of God
All those who sincerely believe in God have a place for God, as well as a fear of God in their hearts. In treating God’s work, they especially fear to offend and enrage God. So, when something they don’t understand occurs, they dare not judge or condemn it without scruple. Facing the work that comes from the Holy Spirit, even if it is not in line with their own conceptions, they still seek and study actively. Take Peter for example. Before seeing the Lord Jesus, he had heard of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven that the Lord Jesus preached. At that time, he didn’t know that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the coming Messiah, but he heard that the Lord Jesus’ preaching penetrated deeply into the people’s hearts, and thirsted in his heart to see Him someday. Thus, when the Lord Jesus called upon him, he said, “I must follow he who is sent by the heavenly Father. I must acknowledge he who is chosen by the Holy Spirit. As I love the heavenly Father, how could I not be willing to follow?” (“On the Life of Peter”). We can see that Peter was in godliness and awe of God. He didn’t use his conceptions and imaginations to measure the Lord Jesus’ work and words. Because of his attitude toward the truth, he gained the Lord’s salvation and became a loyal follower of Him.
4. Don’t Hold Onto Our Own Notions and Imaginations
Although a modest man will give rise to conceptions and reveal an arrogant disposition when something that isn’t in line with his notions happens, he doesn’t hold to himself; instead, he seeks the truth of his own accord. As soon as he understands it, knowing that it comes from God, he can drop his notions and accept it. For example, when Philip told Nathanael that he had encountered the One that the prophets foretold to come, the Lord Jesus, Nathanael got a notion and said with arrogance, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). However, when he didn’t know what the fact was, he didn’t hold on to his own notion, nor did he condemn or judge God’s work at will. Rather, he went to meet the Lord Jesus and listen to His preaching. After hearing the Lord Jesus’ words, he said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49). Because of his seeking with modesty, Nathanael recognized that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the God Himself. Then, he put himself aside and followed the Lord, and gained His salvation.
5. Give Up Our Own Interests
Those who truly seek God are lovers of the truth. To gain the truth, they can give up all their interests, including status, money, the pleasures of the flesh, and so on. For instance, Matthew was a publican. When the Lord Jesus called upon him, he gave up the status and money to follow the Lord, instead of rejecting Him for the sake of the enjoyment of the flesh. It is clear that when God comes to do His work and save mankind, if man wishes to gain God’s salvation, he has to give up his own interests to accept God’s calling.
The reason why those followers of the Lord Jesus could follow His footsteps and gain His salvation was because they feared God in their hearts and could humble themselves and let go of their notions and status. Faced with the Lord’s new work, they didn’t define it with old notions, and as long as they heard the voice of God, they sought and investigated it initiatively. Due to their humility and search, they gained the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, recognizing that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah, and thus they gained the salvation of the Lord Jesus. On the contrary, faced with God’s work which didn’t fit man’s notions, the Pharisees were arrogant, self-righteous, and opinionated, had no fear of God. To protect their own status, they did all they could to find every accusation against the Lord Jesus and condemned, judged, and blasphemed the Lord Jesus. Moreover, they even nailed Him to the cross. In the end, due to their numerous evil acts, they were punished by God, losing the salvation of the Lord forever.
Revelation 3:20 records: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” When the Lord returns, He will still do work and express words. If we hear someone testifying the salvation of the Lord’s return, it is much likely that the Lord is knocking at the door of our heart. In the last days, when the Lord will return, how to be a humble man and be blessed is an urgent matter that we should seek the solution to …