By Jeff Goins, Editor
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus has a hidden blessing for those who come to grips with their own spiritual bankruptcy and desperation. I’ve learned not to superimpose my expectations of myself onto other people, to not give in to the temptation of believing that my socioeconomic privileges (many of which I was born with) exist to simply provide me with comfort. Rather, they are reminders of the a painful reality.
They remind me of the fact that many in this world spend every day going without something while I live in excess.
In America, we live in a culture that very much embraces a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of lifestyle:
If you are poor, it’s because you didn’t work hard enough or made some bad life choices.
If you are crippled, perhaps it’s because you were careless or prone to injury. Maybe you even deserved it.
If you are socially awkward, it’s your own fault for not being more of a go-getter.
This is the broken, sinful mentality to which we all are prone.
In Jesus’ day, there was a man who was blind, and all the religious people were wondering what sins he or his parents may have committed that would cause God to punish him in such a way. He told them that this wasn’t the point of the man being born blind. He told them “shame on you” for thinking they had it figured out.
Christ rebuked those who could see for being truly blind in their hearts. He reserves the same rebuke for us who don’t choose to see our own brokenness and own up to it when we face the faults of others.
The truth is that weak people make competent people feel uncomfortable. They make them uneasy, much like dirty people make “clean” people feel awkward.
Because they reveal something about them that they’d rather have hidden; the weak and dirty expose the own brokenness of the strong and clean.
They force us to face a fact that we’d rather not face: We are all broken.
Seeing someone’s physical brokenness can be unsettling. Especially for someone who has worked hard to get to where she is in life. To have the house with the white picket fence and three-car garage. It can be easy to feel entitled to God’s good graces, when you’ve really busted your hump to make something of yourself. And that’s a dangerous place to be, spiritually.
Maybe that’s why “we will always have the poor” — to break this entitled attitude that comes to those of us who have experience God’s grace in a material way, to help us realize our utter dependence on the giver of all good things.
I know that this sense of entitlement, this spiritual sickness, is alive and well in the world. Because I have felt it and often feel it. In myself.
I’m not content with seeing with my own eyes, any more. I’m tired of these eyes of judgment and self-justification. Of impatience and contempt for weakness. My own self-righteousness has left me exhausted and thirsty for something more. No, I’m not interested in seeing any more… not like I used to.
No, I’d rather be blind…
And have Jesus heal me.
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Ashley. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits this silly little magazine, and loves to do new things. Check out his blog: Pilgrimage of the Heart.