Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
The American Declaration of Independence (1776) recognizes that every human being deserves "the pursuit of happiness." And then Jesus Christ astounds us by telling us the most unlikely way to find that happiness: it's by being "poor in spirit." We find that in Matthew 5:3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
That word "blessed" is an old English word that evokes dim cathedral aisles or pictures of unhappy canonized saints in stained glass windows. But it really means simply to be "happy." But the idea of being "poor in spirit" portrays the opposite idea; it makes one think of being sad, or discouraged. But Jesus says that being poor in spirit is the path to really being happy. How so?
When you realize the truth that if it were not for Jesus the Savior, you would be dead, that He is in truth "the Savior of the world," you are enabled to contrast your own sinfulness with His glorious righteousness. And then to realize that His righteousness is yours through His grace--this immediately gives you happiness.
You sense that your happiness is blood-bought; that it is not something innately yours because of your own merits, but it is a gift. In yourself, of yourself, you are indeed "poor," but in Christ you are eternally wealthy. To be "poor in spirit" is simply to recognize that reality.
When finally you get your feet on this solid Rock of reality, you see each new day as an unexpected dividend, a gift of happiness; you feel the joy of being redeemed from the grave, from a death-sentence, like someone long on death row who gets a last-minute reprieve from the governor. That's the meaning of Romans 6:13: you gladly yield yourself to the Lord "as being alive from the dead." Happiness? Yes! That's it!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 11, 1998.
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