Scripture: Luke 18:9-14
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Je- sus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray,one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
My freshman year of high school, I mainly played with the Junior Varsity baseball team.
The junior varsity team bus was HORRIBLE.
It had no heating or air conditioning.
It was a 15-passenger bus, but it only had about 12 seats for 16 players. The other 3 seats were taken up by spare tires. Yes...we needed more than one spare tire at any given time.
I remember dreaming of being a good enough baseball player to play on the varsity team. I worked at it and worked at it until I finally made it to the Varsity team.
I think there’s a temptation for human beings to treat our spiritual lives like that.
We try to “make it” onto Jesus’ team through performing, shaming ourselves for sin, doing enough deeds, praying enough prayers, or attending enough services.
When we hit these marks, it creates a sense of entitlement.
It’s as if we earned our place in the kingdom.
We act as if the Kingdom of God is the bus that the Varsity Christians get to ride. So, us Junior Varsity Christians either need to work hard, or forget about inheriting the Kingdom.
We treat God’s Kingdom like it’s a place for the spiritually elite when the whole point of the first beatitude was to remind us that God’s Kingdom is for the Spiritually bankrupt.
This is GOOD NEWS!
Blessed are the spiritually bankrupt.
Blessed are those who do not make the cut.
Blessed are those who are told they don’t belong.
Blessed are those who have been wrongly oppressed.
Blessed are those who didn’t get picked for the varsity team.
Blessed are those who people throw stones at.
Blessed are those who never picked up the stone to throw at someone else.
Blessed are those who pray for undeserved grace.
Blessed are those who run home to the Father and ask to become a servant.
Blessed are those who party when a fellow sinner returns home.
Blessed are those who humble themselves.
YOU are the poor in spirit and God will exalt you in his Kingdom.
When God helps us become poor in spirit, we serve in the kingdom not to perform, but to pour out.
When God helps us become poor in spirit, we do not shame ourselves for sin, but we are saved from its captivity.
When God helps us become poor in spirit, our prayer and worship is completely transformed from something we are obligated to do into something we can’t help but do.
When God helps us become poor in spirit, we are especially in tune with the needs of others because we know what need feels like.
God, mold my heart to be more like yours. Will you make me poor in spirit? Show me my need for you.
Will you open my eyes to see the poor and the outcast like never before?
Will you open my hands to give like you give?
Will you open my hands in humility so that I can receive good gifts from you and from others?
Will you open my hands wide to accept others the way you accept others?