The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

… a synopsis of A.W. Tozer’s writing

Before God created man, He prepared a world filled with things for man’s use and enjoyment; however, within the depths of man’s heart was a shrine where only God was worthy to inhabit.

With the entrance of sin, a perversion occurred that made those very gifts of God a potential ruin to the soul.  Problems began when God was forced out of His central shrine in the heart and “things” were allowed to enter and control.

“There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine are verbal symptoms of our deep disease.  Things have become necessary to us, God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by this monstrous substitution.1

 Jesus Christ shone the light on this “tyranny of things” when He called upon His disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.  “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

There is a “self-life” whose chief nature is its possessiveness, and to allow this adversary to live is to lose everything in the end.  To conquer and relinquish it for Christ’s sake is to lose nothing, but to preserve everything unto life eternal. And the only effective way to vanquish this foe is by the Cross.

Abraham’s heart was put to the test when God asked him to offer his son Isaac for a burnt sacrifice.  By his obedience in not withholding his son, Abraham removed Isaac from the temple of his heart, and allowed God to reign there unchallenged.  He became a man utterly surrendered and obedient to God.

Wealthy in worldly riches, Abraham had everything, yet he possessed nothing. After that bittersweet experience on Mount Moriah, the words “my” and “mine” never again had the same meaning for him; the sense of possession which these words connote was removed from his heart.  Abraham realized that his real treasures were unseen and eternal.

The blessed ones, the happy ones, are those who have renounced every external thing from their hearts, so God can reign there unrivalled. And though free from all sense of possessing, paradoxically, they gain all things because God is their treasure:  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Reference:  A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God,  in the Public Domain in the United States, Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, Gutenberg.org electronic book, pp.30-45

 Footnote:  1 Ibid, p. 31

*** Photography by Sergey Ivanov

21 thoughts on “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

  1. I love this, Dee, and was thinking along the same lines yesterday evening as I sat on the porch at my parent’s house with my dad. A stray cat (dad calls him psycho) was curled in my lap as we broke beans and talked about the divine beauty that is life, that is God’s gift to us. More than once, I thought of how many would look to fill that space with something more, and yet there was no room. Nothing mattered more ~ and were I given the chance to trade it for wealth or gold, I would cling to it as if it were my last breath. I’ve long known that the secret to true happiness is to be content with little. Or in this case, I suppose you could say to be content with it all. 🙂 Thank you, Dee for reminding me that the best things in life are not things. ~ Much love to you always, Bobbie

  2. I think, from many years of counselling people, that those who need things – money etc, are people who never got enough love,as babies, and so they always feel unsatisfied. They are always trying to fill up that empty hole. But of course, it is never filled until they learn to love themselves, and then they truly can love their neighbour as themselves.

    • What a noble profession to be counselling and helping people! Thank you for sharing what you have learned about people who need things, that they never got enough love while growing up. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is the second great commandment, and how true that we can only love our neighbor to the extent that we love ourselves.

      I believe the “self-life” that A.W. Tozer talks about as summarized in this post, also reflects this lack of the experience of unconditional love. That is why Jesus said that the first commandment is to love God, and by doing so, we get to know Him and experience His love. And it is through knowing God’s love that we are able to free ourselves from the “abnormal” love of self, which manifests itself in self-gratification through acquiring things to fill up that empty hole. By knowing and experiencing God’s love, we are able to love ourselves unconditionally. Then we can truly love our neighbor as ourselves.

      Thank you so much for your input, Valerie! All my best, Dee

  3. Terrific post! I recently saw a friend had posted a picture of a brand new car on her Facebook page, with the caption,, ‘My soon to be New car!’
    She only bought a brand new car for her large family less than a year ago. They do not have excess money in fact complain about being ‘broke’ a lot! One day recently she got in my second hand Camry and said “Oooh this is comfy”, I said “it is a nice car I am really happy with it.” She said “Aw I wish I was happy with my car.”
    Now money is not the object here but I paid 1 quarter of the price she paid for hers and I couldn’t believe how quickly she lost interest, after months of bragging about how much she loved her new car, she already wants another new one!
    I thought to myself I am so blessed to have a nice car but it means nothing to my happiness in life, for I have faith. My happiness is in complete opposition to having ‘things’!
    I felt sad for her, that she will never be fulfilled and complete as long as she continues to avoid the Lord and fill her heart with ‘things’ of this world. I continue to pray for her and witness to her but she has yet to realise that only the Lord can fill those empty places in her heart. Sorry for my ramblings lol …Blessings to you!

    • Oh thanks so much for sharing this experience of yours. The modern age brings about so much materialism, with so many “things”, and many brands of things, putting these into hierarchies of “superiority” according to monetary value and/or status symbol. Such is the world, and it is a big lure to go after these things, even for Christians. These things bring momentary pleasure, but not lasting happiness. Yes, I agree, only in the Lord will we find happiness and contentment because as St. Augustine said, God made us for Himself, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God. Thanks again, and God bless you!

  4. Very elegantly put, Dee. With God securely seated as the God of our hearts, only then can we truly be trusted with the wealth that He yearns to give us, His children. No wealth, no possession, no ‘thing’ we could ever acquire, can fulfill the spot in our inmost being that He has always meant to be reserved for Himself – not for any selfishness on His part, but so that we could truly enjoy life to the full…the life that only God can give, and only He is the Source of. Thanks for a great post, as always!

    Lester

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