Best of Daily Reflections: What Does It Mean to Trust Jesus?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3

The Old Testament ends with a curse! Malachi writes God’s words for Israel: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

Then for four hundred years there was prophetic silence. Four hundred years is a long time to live under the threat of a curse. But up on the mountain with his disciples that day, Jesus breathed these words that shatter the silence and replace the curse with a blessing.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

But it’s a strange blessing.

Blessed … It is common to translate “blessed” to mean “happy.” But I prefer Dale Bruner’s translation that blessed means “I am with you.” Translated, this would read “You poor in spirit, I am with you.” Life’s greatest happiness is the presence of Jesus.

… are the poor. There are levels of poverty. According to HDM Spence, one level of poverty is to have nothing extra, but a deeper poverty is to have nothing at all. One level of poverty lives by day-to-day labor, but a deeper poverty begs hour by hour. The poverty about which Jesus speaks is the latter—to have nothing at all.

… in spirit. Poverty of the flesh is one specific category among many forms of poverty. A person can be poor in the flesh, but still rich in other ways. But to be poor in spirit is to be utterly destitute in every category of life.

… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In its essence, the kingdom is the presence of Jesus. My wife Terri and I got separated at the mall one time. When I finally saw her across the racks of clothing apparel and stacks of kitchenwares, I remember how it transformed the whole mall. In a similar way, the presence of Jesus gives heavenly qualities to places where we are both in this world and in the next.

It is popular to think of heaven as a glorious place with jewels for gates and gold for roads, and perhaps all that will be true.

We tend to think that such a blessing is reserved for luckless people who have become helplessly trapped by life’s grinding circumstance. But here’s the essential key to understanding this blessing. It is not forced on us. We are not trapped by it.

On the contrary, we choose to empty ourselves and hold all things so lightly that we are entirely at the service of God. As Thomas Merton put it,

True joy is only possible when we have completely forgotten ourselves. And it is only when we pay no more attention to our own life and our own reputation and our own excellence that we are at last truly free to serve God for His sake alone.

A fire near our home consumed a large warehouse. The next day, on the edge of the road, beside the smoldering ruins, a note scrawled in green chalk on a charred piece of wood declared, “WE’RE STILL OPEN!”

Hear Jesus saying, “Let it go! Whatever it is that binds you in pleasure or sorrow, let me have it and I’ll show you my glorious kingdom.” Whatever you gain or lose, stay open to Jesus, and you will be blessed.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what areas of your life do you most need to be in control? What does being in control mean to you? When Jesus tells you to give over the control of your life to him, how do you respond? In what ways does this increase stress in your life? In what ways does it reduce stress?

PRAYER: Lord, I am learning to trust you just a little at a time. My progress is measured in inches, not feet or yards. So today I am willing to trust you with another inch of my life, and then tomorrow another inch, and the day after, another, until I am all in and all Yours. Amen.


God at Work

Where is God? Does he inhabit only the sanctuaries and monasteries and seminaries of the earth? Or, is God with you in your cubicle, your classroom, your kitchen, your conference call? What about the carpool lane? And if God is there with you, what does that mean? Join us for the series, God at Work, where we explore what it means that God is not only at work in you, but also, quite literally, with you. It may be difficult to see the Kingdom of God through the deadlines and reports and meetings and evaluations and budgets, but be encouraged: he is there. Together, let’s find him in the ordinary places you work, and let’s consider how his presence makes a difference for good.