“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Verse 3 (NIV)
Make a fist and squeeze as hard as you can. After a few moments that feels uncomfortable and creates some tension in your entire body. Now imagine that your heart is like that: clenched, closed, so tense and tight that it almost hurts – but in a strange way, that tightness feels safer than letting anyone in to hurt you.
Jesus begins a powerful sermon, declaring, “Blessed are the poor in spirit …” It’s as if he’s saying, “Of course your heart wants to clench up. It feels inadequate; it is wounded and weary; it feels threatened, like it’s under attack. It wants to protect itself.”
But we know that a clenched heart might also shut out the love of God. So, Jesus invites us to open our hearts, just as they are, wounded and weary. It’s as if he is saying, “Be real; be vulnerable, be open hearted.” Many of us are sensitive and actually poor in spirit, but we hide that from people around us, so we clench our heart. Being poor in spirit is not something to hide, it’s a way to be blessed.
My dad told me that if I really wanted to get to know someone well, I should find a way to work with that person on a common task. Our strictest professor at Bible College was very hard to get to know. One summer he hired me to do a significant amount of work in his backyard. The great surprise was that he decided to work alongside me. During those days, his hard exterior came down. We had some very personal discussions and we got to know each other at a different level.
That September, back at school, I encountered the same strict, hard professor but I knew the heart of the man just below the exterior. It made for a much more enjoyable learning experience.
Open your heart! It will bless someone else and you at the same time.
Lord, thank you for inviting me to come to you as I am. Help me to open my heart to others – and to show your love. Amen.