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Seven Blessings for Empty-Handed Believers

October 20, 2016

Empty-handedness is where the blessing of God begins.

People who feel they have something to offer God come to him with their hands full, but as long as our hands are full, we are not in a position to receive. As Thomas Watson says, “If the hand is full of pebbles, it cannot receive gold.” [1]

People who are poor in spirit drop the pebbles because they want the gold, and they know that it can only be received by empty-handed believers. When you know that you have nothing to offer God, you are in a position to receive all that he offers to you. When you accept that you cannot claim his blessing as a right, you are in a position to receive it as a gift.

Seven Blessings for Empty-Handed Believers

1. Empty-handedness releases you from the idea that God owes you.

The person who is poor in spirit says: “I owe God everything, and I can give him nothing. God owes me nothing, and he has given me everything.” When we list demands, we are moving toward bitterness, disappointment, and resentment. The blessing of God belongs to those who humble themselves before him.

2. Empty-handedness positions you to ask and receive in prayer.

When we come to God in humility to ask his help, we are recognizing we are needy. Jesus says that the person who comes to him recognizing his or her need for divine help will be blessed and forgiven, just as the tax collector was (cf. Luke 18:13–14).

3. Empty-handedness helps you to bear affliction.

God opposes proud people, but to the humble he gives grace to endure. That truth may not seem logical if you read stories of proud conquerors or are told, “When times get tough, the tough keep going.” Yet Scripture says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). It follows that humility will help you to endure every affliction, whether poverty, poor health, or other trials.

4. Empty-handedness nourishes your love for others.

Pride is like a bucket of water poured on the fires of love in any relationship. Seeking to exalt yourself or place someone in an inferior relationship has damaged many family relationships, whether a wife to her husband or a father to his son. But humility can fan the dying embers of love into a flame. Love gets choked by the weeds of pride, but it grows and thrives in the soil of a humble heart.

5. Empty-handedness strengthens you to overcome temptation.

If pride leads to falling, as the Bible says (Proverbs 16:8; 1 Corinthians 10:12), it follows that humility helps you to stand. By pursuing humility, you will strike a blow at the master sin of pride, and in this way you will subdue the temptation of many other sins.

6. Empty-handedness releases you from the tyranny of self.

The victorious Christian neither exalts nor downgrades himself. His interests have shifted from self to Christ. What he is or is not no longer concerns him. He believes that he has been crucified with Christ. With this focus on Christ, we will neither elevate nor deprecate ourselves.

7. Empty-handedness leads you to worship Jesus.

The more you see in yourself, the less you will see in Christ, and the more you see in Christ, the less you will see in yourself. Once you and I see the poverty of our own position before God, we can recognize the glorious gift of Jesus Christ. And seeing that all your good has its source in him will lead you to worship the Savior.

Empty-Handedness Leads to Blessing

To be poor in spirit is the first mark of a person who walks with God. You may be a multi-talented sports star or a high flyer in business. You may be a mega-mother, a brilliant musician, a technical guru, or a political genius, but if you have truly met with God, you will know that you do not have what he requires of you.

Charlest Spurgeon says, “Christ is never precious till we are poor in spirit. We must see our own wants before we can perceive his wealth; pride blinds the eyes, and sincere humility must open them, or the beauties of Jesus will be forever hidden from us.” [2]

Humble yourself. Come to Jesus Christ today, and tell him that you do not have what it takes to live a holy life. Tell him that you do not have the power to change. Ask him to give to you what you do not have, and then trust him, look to him, believing his promise that he will come to you, live with you, and bless you.

Christians know their own poverty. They look to Jesus for what they do not have, and find in him all that they need.

This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s book, Momentum: Pursuing God’s Blessings through the Beatitudes (Moody Publishers, 2016).

[1] Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes (1660; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1971), 43. [2] C. H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Sermon on the Mount (1873; repr., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956), 15. [3] Photo Credit: Lightstock

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the President and Teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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