You are blessed when you are at the end of your rope for when there is less of you, there is more of God’s rule in your life. This is the message of the first beatitude. And it is easy to see how this relates to entering the Kingdom of God, to submitting to the rule of Christ in our lives. Confession, repentance, and submission are very humbling acts. But does salvation end our poverty of spirit, or does our continued walk with Christ require a poor spirit?
In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul gives a personal testimony to his struggle with sin. Theologians have debated for years over whether Paul is describing his experience before he was saved or whether Romans 7 describes a post conversion struggle. Personally, I think Paul is describing his ongoing struggle to be conformed into the image of Christ, the continuing battle to consider himself dead to sin and alive to God (see Romans 6). Paul’s story of sanctification (the process of becoming like Christ) went something like this,
15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7.15-25)
We do not become instantly like Christ at the moment of salvation. We are reborn, but must mature in Christlikeness. My hope for each day is to look more like Christ today than I did yesterday but not as much as I will look like Him tomorrow. And the reality is that there are some areas in my life where transformation is very hard, and I can say a hearty “amen” to Paul’s testimony in Romans 7.
The hope in the struggle of transformation lies in the question, “Who will rescue me from this?” We only need to be rescued when we are helpless and in peril. Those who are at the end of their rope cry out for a Savior, and they are blessed because it is in that cry that Christ can begin to exert His rule in their struggle.
Poverty of spirit is an ongoing quality for a believer who is serious about being transformed into the image of Christ. We forever come to the end of our rope in the process of sanctification, where we face the sin within that can only be transformed by God’s work in our lives. As each new rope is revealed, we gradually work our way down to the bottom. And it is at that bottom where we find the grace of God.
Blessed are those who are at the end of their rope!