I wonder what Jesus’ audience thought about this statement. After all, the Pharisees had been teaching people to obey the law of Moses and then some for what seemed like forever. For Jesus to say this in the about the same breath as “poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 5:2)” must have seemed a bit strange: He had already begun to unfold the wrapper of grace, was He now exposing more law as the gift?
Or, was it much simpler than that?
Whether Psalm 119 was written by David or Ezra, it is clear that the author’s heart was broken, wrecked, and shattered for the Lord. As we read through v 131 and 133 we hear from a man who opened his mouth, panting for God’s word. Jesus makes it clear throughout the Beatitudes that sincere and pure devotion to God isn’t about the outward behavior, rather a heart desperate for God, dependent on Him, that propels us to outward behavior.
A resume rich in church activity doesn’t necessarily indicate a beggar’s heart for God. Only the poor in spirit have room for God in their hearts.
As we enter week 2 of the fast, there are times when our flesh begs for old forms of satisfaction: “comfort” food, entertainment, and other forms of self comfort rather than on the God of all comfort. Jesus’ statement from Matthew 5.8 is clear – you can’t have both. These lesser gods have not only stolen our full devotion from God, but deprived us of experiencing the God who sent us “the Comforter”. Why would we want anything less? Because it’s wrapped in a more tangible, sleek package and available with free shipping or for instant download?
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1.27)”
Question yourself as you pray – “What in the world is polluting me, Lord? What has my heart leaning even the slightest degree away from You? What can be done about the condition of my heart that would make me hate “even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh (Jude 1.23) and bring me to a place where I pant for Your commands?
How can any sin “rule over” us if our hearts are that hungry for God?
God sent us the Comforter to do just that – comfort us. Let us call on Him today with hearts that desire not God’s blessings, but the God of all blessings. Surely, His blessings will follow, but we cannot manufacture a heart desperate for Him. This is a work of God and it must be begged for. Would you be willing to beg God for this?