"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
Many prefer to gloss over this critical, profound, foundational message. The collections of all the world's (false) religions are based in the opposite of this message.
The lost--the damnably depraved thinks he or she has something to bring to the table of spiritual enlightenment. He thinks he has worked to develop some important spiritual attributes and is achieving God by a degree of his own merit. She thinks she is naturally gifted in some ways and innately progressive--advanced spiritually.
And these are the delusions of a raving maniac, lock, stock and barrel.
Pride is the killer. Subtle, sneaking spiritual pride . . . the most insidious of poisons. It is the devil's milk upon which all in the world are suckled and weaned.
The fool, in his heart imagines there is no God and thinks he has achieved things of his own self-generated power and talents. The deceived in her heart demands that she is due and owed something.
But the only way to approach God and be able to see and hear Him . . . is to approach utterly broken and empty, bringing nothing, for you have nothing whatsoever to bring except a defeated, surrendered heart, open, repentant and beseeching.
I remember ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg's astounding (delusional) prideful proclamation: "Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation,
he said with a grin: 'I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to
heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I
have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.'”
Here was some arrogant hutzpah that even the worldly noted was megalomaniacally vainglorious and over-the-top!
For me, it brought to mind another famous (and equally delusional) chest-pounding boast: "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that
has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of
Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul,
John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a
work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day
Saints never ran away from me yet. . . . " --Joseph Smith (And praise God for those that DO run away!)
Ahh . . . but here's the catch. While it is easy to spot these obvious, pompous blowhards . . . and fling quick aspersions . . . ANY person who imagines in the slightest sense that they bring some self-generated quality of value or deserving to the Lord, expecting spiritual reward IS JUST AS DELUSIONAL!
And how very many are there of these! . . . Who sit in the pews, who perform "good deeds", who take on great causes, becoming subtly puffed up in their own works and self-image! Here is but another shade of Michael Bloomberg or Joe Smith. . . .
"But aren't we going to be rewarded for the good works we do in this life?" someone asks, still fighting to hold their subtle ground (and hidden idol).
Indeed. But what can YOU do that is pleasing to God? Nothing. Filthy, disgusting rags are all your so-called "good deeds" and righteous causes. As the heart of man and woman is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" . . . what comes of it is tainted through and through, however much it is painted bright, powdered and perfumed.
The good you will be rewarded for (should there be any) will be that good which you allowed God to do through you. And even that . . . you will not be able to claim! For HE GIVES grace to the humble. HE BLESSES the poor in spirit.
There is no where to turn. There is no little corner you can find where you will be able to claim deservedness and just rewards for YOUR efforts. God GRANTS repentance. Jesus Christ ALONE saves! There is nothing you have done, do, or will ever do . . . in the slightest degree . . . that will warrant ANY of your spiritual salvation and growth. It is ALL a gift of God, unmerited . . . and ALL redounding to His glory ALONE!
Ahh . . . but we fight for a piece of it, don't we? Just a little scrap and plot here and there where we can secretly form a little idol of self . . . to put in between us and the honor that is SOLELY due to the Creator and Savior and His Holy Spirit. How crafty we are! How long do we hold out in the hidden recesses of our hearts and minds, where tiny Bloomberg's and Smiths still hold court and garner and horde the attention and accolades that should be solely and gratefully sent on to The Most High. . . .
Pray for a broken heart! Pray for desolation of self and an end to all secreted idols! Glory to GOD ALONE! Pray to be defeated, taken out, demolished . . . that His righteousness, which is pure, can work through you as is His will, which will be done. And then . . . you enter that great mystery . . . where . . . the more you realize and actually live out . . . that YOU can do nothing of yourself in His service . . . the MORE He will actually use you IN His service! It is no wonder that the mystery, so profound, incomprehensible and wonderful . . . will take up the store of eternity to play out, in all of it's (presently) unimaginable and glorious permutations!
Praise God! He alone is worshipful and praise-worthy! Amen? Amen!