Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blessed are the poor in spirit: Matthew 5 versus 3 Nephi 12

My husband told me that in our ward’s Sunday school they discussed the differences between the Beattitudes in Matthew 5 and the Beattitudes in 3 Nephi 12.  (I'm in Primary, so I have to get his report about what went on in Sunday school each week.)  Anyway, examining those differences sounded intriguing to me, so I decided to take a look myself.  Here’s something I found very near the beginning:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3)

Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (3 Nephi 12:3)
 This clarifies for us that being poor in spirit by itself doesn’t bring the blessedness, but coming to Christ does.

I’ve always been a bit uncertain about what it means to be “poor in spirit” anyway.  I’ve wondered if it meant being depressed or being not very assertive or being a not-very-spiritual person.  I think 3 Nephi 3 is helpful because it somehow gives me the sense that Christ does not mean for us to stay in that condition.  This caused me to realize that being "poor in spirit" refers to when we don’t have the Holy Ghost in our lives very much.  Christ wants us to come to Him and repent so we can become rich in the Spirit instead.

I usually notice I am poor in the Spirit when I realize that I am not being touched by what usually touches me.  It is not that those things have lost their power, rather, I have somehow become insensitive and hardened my heart.  It doesn’t much matter what it is that has made us poor in the Spirit; it has to be repented of, whether big sin or small.  I have to realize how much I need the Spirit.  I have to pray and confess my fault and plead for forgiveness.  I have to resolve to do what is right and to put away cynicism and doubt.  I have to notice the good and express appreciation.  I have to be alert to notice opportunities to serve and notice spiritual promptings.  I have to be willing to follow promptings even if I feel foolish or awkward.  I notice that when I do these things, the Lord gives me opportunities to feel the Spirit and those chances come thick and fast.  They make me feel rich in the Spirit again.

When do you notice your life is Spirit-poor?  What tips you off?  Then what do you do? Do you have any experiences you can share?


chococatania said...

There are many reasons that my life can become "spirit-poor". Sometimes I'm critical or judgmental. Sometimes I'm selfish. These are all things I've been trying to overcome.

One thing I find interesting, lately, is how much my spirit is effected by my physical body. I've noticed that I feel more "spirit-poor" when I'm going through hormonal issues (I recently had a hysterectomy, so this is especially apparent right now). I'm "spirit-poor" when I'm tired or hungry. My physical nature has a bearing on my Spirit.

These aren't excuses, but I'm beginning to learn that when I'm suffering these weaknesses of the flesh, I need to spend more time on my knees - praying that the Lord will strengthen and comfort me as I go through that challenge (especially the hormonal ones!) .

I have realized, too, that in coming to the Lord, He will help me to know how to effectively combat these problems. For example, I get anxious at night. In the past, I've tried just going to bed, but that is usually the worst thing I can do. I sit in bed, and my anxiety festers as I think, think, think. I have learned to go to bed (but not necessarily sleep) earlier, so I can ease my mind into sleep. Then, I spend time reading or writing in my journal. It has helped me to feel less anxious at night. That has also helped the Spirit be with me more.

Michaela Stephens said...

Catania, I hear ya on the hormonal issues (though I haven't had a hysterectomy), weaknesses of the flesh, and evening anxiety.