Empty Handed.

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3

Over the past few months, I have been meditating on the truths above. I am empty-handed. I am poor in spirit and this is good news for I have learned that God accepts me just as I am. I don’t have to show him any good deeds to gain his approval or acceptance. What liberation! At times I have wanted to celebrate or rejoice in my sinfulness but even as I write that I find it indecent or erroneous. Rather, I want to celebrate the knowledge that I am a sinner. Denying or minimizing my sin kept me trapped into thinking I was healthy when I was in fact sick with sin. I needed humility to guide me there.

Pride causes us to have an excessively high opinion of ourselves. Pride tells us that we are righteous when we are not. Pride fools us into thinking that we can rest in our achievements and our good works to gain God’s approval. Pride denies our sin and convinces us that we are not really that bad. Pride damns us. 

Humility, on the other hand, takes a good look at self and realizes with Isaiah that we are all infected with sin and our best offering of righteousness is nothing more than a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6.) Humility brings us to realize our true condition, that we are empty handed. Our pithy offering of righteousness is not enough to gain God’s favor and our abundant sins condemn us.

Humility helps us to see that we are poor in spirit. It is from this vantage point that we see the cure. We realize that God accepts us just as we are, without anything to offer. He meets us there and offers us the kingdom of heaven. He made a way of salvation for us through Jesus. Jesus offers us his righteousness in exchange for our sin. He offers us an eternally clean slate. He gives us all his good deeds and takes all of our bad ones. But there is a catch. We have to come clean. We have to put our pride away and humbly accept that we are empty handed sinners. 

Today, where are you in this journey? Are you letting pride swindle you into thinking you are more righteous than you are or have you allowed humility to do it’s work and show you your true condition? Are you still leaning on the meager offering of good you have in your hand to gain God’s favor or have you accepted your sinfulness and the provision for it through Jesus? 

Let us stop denying our sin. Let us stop resting on our own accomplishments. Let us humble ourselves and confess our sins. Let us exult in what Christ has done. Let us rejoice that we are poor in spirit. In this we will find freedom and entry into the kingdom of heaven. 

Prayer: God, we thank you for Jesus. We confess that we are lost and incapable of good apart from you. Please root out sins in our lives and help us rest in the freedom you give.


C. Smith became a member of the River in 2006 and very quickly began volunteering in a variety of ministries. A little over three years ago, she moved to Central Asia. These days she enjoys the Central Asian communal aspect of sipping tea while having good, long conversations with friends. You can read more about her adventures at https://lookingforthegreenergrass

River Community Church