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

To be 'poor in spirit' is to come to grips with a crucial, yet disturbing fact. It is the very painful recognition of my spiritual condition before God. I might have been made for a garden but I’m living in a desert!  Of my own making!"   [i]

No-one wants to go through bankruptcy.  It is considered by some to be an admission of failure – you were not smart enough or took too many risks and now you have lost your credit rating.  You can no longer hold on to the accumulation of wealth you were working on. 

Bankruptcy is actually an act of mercy.  It is a cancellation of debt and opportunity to start again to live within your means.  Once declared bankrupt, angry creditors have no hold on the debtor.  No matter how angry and forceful a creditor may be, they cannot get anything further from the one who owes them.  Bankruptcy is a protection from un-payable debt.

Is that not a picture of our sin and unrighteousness before God?  We owe a debt that we cannot ever conceivably pay.  Your declaration of spiritual bankruptcy is answered with Jesus’ forgiveness.  He pays for the debt that you owe.  The generosity of Heaven meets the deeply, personal impoverishment of who we are. 

Paul declared his personal bankruptcy when he said:

Romans 7:
22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

How are we to respond to God’s generosity?  In facing the pressures and demands of life, God gives us the opportunity to develop a generous response to others rather than being defensive and defeated.  What does poverty of spirit mean in responding to the needs of others? 

“It is stepping away from the rule of fear in one's life, fear being the great force that restrains us from acts of love.  It is becoming free of the myth that possessing many things will make me a happier person."  [ii]

[i] Jesus, Religion, and True Spirituality: A Look at Four Beatitudes by Greg Herrick, Ph.D.
[ii] Jim Forest, from The Ladder of the Beatitudes - this text was subsequently expanded into book form: "Ladder of the Beatitudes" published by Orbis


Matt Stone said…
Interesting perspective on bankrupcy. Thanks.