“The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.” – Luke 4:18 / Isaiah 61:1
Yesterday, I spent a good part of my day drinking deep. Sitting right here, in my favorite spot, listening to worship music and reading scripture. I happened on Isaiah 61 and I heard Him whisper something. It was faint, but I heard it.
And just like that, He cracked open my heart and I saw how deprived of poverty it had become, how much self-sufficiency was being masked by spiritual maturity. I saw and I wept.
Because spiritual poverty is what makes the good news good.
Twenty-seven years have passed since Jesus found me (I did not find Him. He was never lost.) and here is the truth that I am prone to forgetting…I am still as poor today as I was that first day.
Because twenty-seven years later, I still can’t do one thing to be right with God on my own. I still can’t earn His grace, or cover my own sin. I have not arrived. My hands are still empty. I am impoverished to the core of me. I can’t even obey Him without Him. I just start thinking I can. And when self-sufficiency rises up under the mask of maturity, bad things happen.
My finger starts to point at other people. People who are poor like me, but for some reason, they should know better. A harshness slips in and quietly asks compassion to leave. Grace becomes a given to me, but not from me. Rules become far more important than people, love is something that must be earned, and God is pleased with me but not with you.
When I forget that I am poor, it breathes life into the Pharisee in me.
And then God invited me to drink humility in deep. To drink in good news that is still good.
To consider my own poverty again. To find grace amazing still. To remember that I am a saint, chosen, sanctified by God, redeemed by Christ, part of the family of God, gifted by the Holy Spirit, befriended by Jesus and loved by the Father, and that I am poor. I have no righteousness of my own. I have nothing in me with which to earn eternity.
Before the spirits of darkness, I have authority. I am to give no ground, make no compromise, wielding the sword of the Spirit without mercy. Before the enemy of my soul, I must remember who I am because of Christ.
But not so before men. In earthly realms I am to be clothed in humility, full of compassion, honoring others above myself, turning my cheek, loving those who would do me harm. Before men, I must remember who I would be without Christ. I must remember that I am poor.
Beloved, do not confuse the realms you walk in.