Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Blessings - Part 1

Because many people spend the entire month of November listing what blessings for which they consider themselves thankful, I decided I would participate too...sorta.

One of my all time favorite teachings from Jesus is when He gave us the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew 5:3-12.  I love the Beatitudes so much that they were one of the readings during my wedding.  I also keep them posted on my refrigerator.  Nevertheless, I often need a reminder of what really matters.  So in reminding myself during this thankful month, I though perhaps all of you would like to come along on the journey.  

Each Sunday this month I am going to list a couple of the Beatitudes and then try to relate it to my own daily life.  Perhaps you will find this helpful as well.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

The word poor seems to represent an Aramaic 'ányâ (Hebrew 'anî), bent down, afflicted, miserable, poor; while meek is rather a synonym from the same root, 'ánwan (Hebrew 'ánaw), bending oneself down, humble, meek, gentle. Some scholars would attach to the former word also the sense of humility; others think of "beggars before God" humbly acknowledging their need of Divine help. But the opposition of "rich" (Luke 6:24) points especially to the common and obvious meaning, which, however, ought not to be confined to economical need and distress, but may comprehend the whole of the painful condition of the poor: their low estate, their social dependence, their defenseless exposure to injustice from the rich and the mighty. Besides the Lord's blessing, the promise of the heavenly kingdom is not bestowed on the actual external condition of such poverty. The blessed ones are the poor "in spirit", who by their free will are ready to bear for God's sake this painful and humble condition, even though at present they be actually rich and happy; while on the other hand, the really poor man may fall short of this poverty "in spirit". [source] 

This is something I struggle with almost daily.  Growing up I was outgoing, boisterous, a stereotypical a cheerleader.  There was a bounce in my step.  Over the years, some very specific life experiences chipped away at my confidence.  My entire facade has evolved into something my younger self would not recognize.  I have trust issues. I shy away from opportunities that I know I would love, because I'm scared of the rejection that may come my way.  Because I know my own worst faults, I assume everyone I meet carries just as grievous flaws.  I am definitely "poor in spirit".  Does this make me more blessed?  In a word: no.

To truly be poor in spirit I need to learn not to care so much.  The only true opinion of me that matters is God's opinion.  Yet I have a very hard time with this.  I think it is perfectly fine to be among a group of thousands and have people wanting to imitate your every move.  But I also think that you must take that role very seriously.  God wants His light to shine through us.  Humility doesn't have to turn you into a shrinking violet.  It simply has to make you give all the glory of your position to God.

I really care what people think of me.  Selfies done and redone to find the "perfect" shot; clothing purchased for special occasions, the quantity of social invitations, the number of social media followers; these things "matter" to me.  But why?  What really matters is that God is pleased with me.  And I'd be lying if I said I always pleased him.  Sure, I now duck my head down in public, but maybe I shouldn't.  It's not sinful pride to hold my head high.  I just have to make sure His image is visible.

So this week I am thankful for God's grace and mercy.  And I desire to live my nice, quiet life more for Him and less for me...whoever "me" is these days.  

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