Most of us like to be encouraged and to encourage others. However, I’ve noticed that the people who have encouraged me the most did not realize they were doing it. Their focus was not on my need or their performance. They were excited about truth and shared it. Had they been made aware of the effect they were having on my heart, it would likely have downplayed or even ruined their efforts.
To be strong and useful to God, the human spirit must keep its eyes on Jesus. Otherwise, the Christian’s heart is so easily weakened by self-examination. This is one of the reasons Jesus said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
Poverty of spirit means total recognition and awareness that I have no strength of will, no control of emotions, no wisdom, no nobility of disposition, no trust in myself or my abilities, yet at the same time I am not focusing on my nothingness — for that is self-centered just as much as boasting. Instead, the focus is on the One who gives me all that I need by grace through faith.
Again, the people who have influenced me the most are not those who realize what they have done, but those who have no idea that they were a blessing. In their minds, they are insignificant, yet not even conscious of that.
This attitude is difficult to explain. Perhaps a child at play is the best illustration. The music starts and the child whirls and dances, lost in what he or she is doing. The moment someone says, “Oh, how cute you are” the child immediately becomes self-conscious and loses that wonderful poverty of spirit, that selflessness that was blessing both the child and those who watched.
The kingdom of heaven in the most generic of terms refers to the realm of God’s rule. That said, God is in the dance, the selfless activity of a spirit set free to simply love Him and live in the delight of that love. This is a joyful combination of being poor in spirit and totally trusting the Lord so that I am free to be who I am without self-examination or any of that ‘am I doing the right thing’ anxiety.
I’ve known only a few people who live with this poverty of spirit. Those who watch are either blessed and thanking God for them, or they assume that whirling child is a fool and walk away shaking their heads in scorn.
I’m thinking I’d rather risk that kind of rejection than miss out on dancing to God’s music.