An artist searching for a man to model as the prodigal son saw a beggar in the street and asked him to come to his studio and pose for him, promising to pay him. At the appointed time the man appeared, neatly shaven and all dressed up. “Who are you?” asked the artist. “I am the man on the street who you want to paint,” answered the man. “I thought I’d get cleaned up before I got painted.” “I can’t use you as you are now,” said the artist, and let him go.
All who come to Jesus Christ for salvation must come just as they are. The Bible tells us that God “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5. We come to God spiritually as beggars, as Augustus Toplady expressed it in the hymn he wrote, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the Cross I cling.”
As believer’s we are commanded to continue to live by faith, as we began with Christ, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” Colossians 2:6. As we can only come to Christ by His grace and mercy, so we are to continue to be totally dependant upon Him for our spiritual well-being. This is why Jesus described those who are “poor in spirit” as blessed.
What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? It is the opposite of the self-important, self-assertive and self-sufficient nature which the world admires and encourages. To be “poor in spirit” is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, can do nothing, and have need of everything spiritually. Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of my emptiness, the result of the Spirit’s work within. When an individual comes before God and acknowledges his utter helplessness and dependency upon God then God acts. This is seen in the initial stirring in the heart of the Prodical Son who while in the far country “began to be in need”.
Continued spiritual progress requires that we honestly recognise our continual spiritual poverty. Once we are saved, we must maintain that basic sense of need that prompted our initial response to Jesus in order for God’s Spirit to remain in control. God can use only those who rely on Him and maintain a prodigal attitude throughout all of life.
This Sunday we will be considering the first of the Beatitudes from Matthew 5. I trust that you will join us as we seek to grow in our faith and love for our Lord Jesus Christ.