24 February 2013
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 ESV)
We are entering into our fourth week on the Sermon on the Mount and our third Beatitude. With the detailed study of these past few weeks discuss with your class what God is doing in their lives. Are people finding humility, mourning sin? Are they seeing their place in the kingdom, are they finding comfort? These are important discussions, for we must not forget what we studied previously in moving forward to study what we have this week.
This week we will look at the meek. This beatitude proves to be interesting because it appears to be very similar to the poor in spirit of verse three. In addition to this similarity, Luke 6 does not have a similar beatitude, which has led many to ignore this beatitude. We do not want to do that. As we move from humility, to sorrowfulness, we must see that the next step on the way to complete Christian character is in meekness. As you discuss this beatitude with your class please make the point that meekness is built upon humility, but is not equivocal with it.
Meekness Provides the Right Power
If you are like many people in your class you probably do not use the word meek in your normal conversations. Since we see that it is an important characteristic of the Christian faith we need to make sure that we define it correctly. The dictionary defines meek as:
1. Humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
2. Overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.
3. Obsolete. gentle; kind.
From this definition we perhaps have the idea that one who is meek is equated with one who is weak. The words submissive, spiritless, tame, etc. lead us to believe that there is a prevalent weakness in this word. However, what we see in the Bible is that God wants us to be courageous and bold, words devoid of any thesaurus entry on meek. What we need to see for a definition is perhaps what we find in the "obsolete" definition: gentleness or kindness. This more to the point of what "meek" means biblically, but as we discover what it means to be meek we must understand that meekness is not weakness, the Christian meek are not weak!
Before we give a good picture of what it means to be meek we must understand what it is not. First, it is not one who is just easy-going, I believe the younger people would call this one who is "chill." You can be laid back but not necessarily meek. Second, this does not just mean that a person is nice. Niceness is a quality I think we should all have, but it is not the full definition of being meek. Third, the meek are not those who find ways to compromise, those who are always seeking to put out any turmoil around them. In acknowledgement of these false characteristics of meekness Martin Lloyd-Jones provides this commentary:
Meekness is compatible with great strength Meekness is compatible with great authority and power. . . . The meek man is one who may so believe in standing for the truth that he will die for it if necessary. The martyrs were meek, but they were never weak; strong men, yet meek men.
So what is meekness? We see what it is not, but that does not completely help. Meekness is related to the power that we have and the way in which we use it. We are a people given the power to do certain things in our lives. We have the ability to act certain ways for ourselves and towards other people. A meek person understands that these choices of power must always be other-centered. Building upon the first two beatitudes, one who is meek is one who is not proud and is ever aware of his or her sinfulness. The meek person is not concerned with his own wants and desires all the time. We live in an age that says, "take care of yourself first," and though there is some wisdom in this, we must not abuse that little wisdom to make an excuse for being selfish and self-centered. The meek person must look to his or her own abilities and choose to have them focused away from self.
From this we must also see that the meek person must be one that is ever trying to show others that they are more important than themselves. This is not being a pushover, but it is being other centered. The meek person is never on the defensive. The meek person keeps his or her cool and handles situations that arise with confidence. The meek person responds in gentleness to all.
The Bible is replete with instances of being meek. We see it in Genesis 13 where Abram lets Lot pick his choice of the land before him and gives up his right. We see it in Numbers 13 where Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses and God calls all three out to him to make a judgment on Miriam and Aaron. Inserted in this story is the assertion that Moses is the meekest man on the Earth. The one who led the Israelites out of Egypt is not a weak push-over, but he was a meek man. We see meekness in David as he patiently waits for his time to be King as Saul still reigns. Twice David had the opportunity to kill Saul who was out to kill him and he stayed his hand. (See 1 Sam 24) We see it in Stephen in Acts 7 as he is being condemned to death. Most of all though, we see it in Jesus "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)
Meekness Presents the Best Position
When we are truly being meek we are able to place ourselves in the appropriate places before God and before others. We have already stated that meekness is gentleness, but it also can be seen as being mild, quiet, low, patient, long-suffering, and teachable. All of these attributes are important for us to play in our lives as we serve God and serve others. Any position of placing ourselves before God or others negates the attribute of meekness. In a word we could call it yieldedness. Lets spend some time looking at how we positionally yield ourselves before God and before others.
When we come before God we must do so in humility and in repentance, but we also must do so in a position of yieldedness before him. God does not just want us to bow before Him, he wants us to do His will. In Matthew 11 we read of how we are to take His yoke. This means that we are not to do our wills anymore, but are to yield to God's. A particular way that we can show this is our approach to world missions. This coming week will be our missions conference and we are focused on the theme "Unashamed." Romans 1:16 says, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." The only way we can be unashamed is to be yielded to God's will; to be meek. Practically speaking, this means that we are to seek his will on how we are to be involved in missions. For some this means that they yield their lives to God and leave to serve Him in a foreign country. This is an activity in meekness if it is done so because of God's will alone. For those not called to go, we are called to support those who do go. We are able to do this through Faith Promise Giving. Take a few moments in your class to discuss what Faith Promises giving is and how they can yield their finances to God.
Another way we are to be meek is to other people. We have already seen this in the way we are to be other-centered. This beatitude takes a turn from internal attributes to externals. Meekness is not just something between us and God, but is something we do with other people. I think one of the best examples of meekness before others is Peter before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4. Here Peter and John have come into trouble because of their boldness in preaching the Gospel. Though they could make many claims as to why they should not be imprisoned they answer before others in meekness. "But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19-20). They were willing to allow others to do as they must, they did not fight, they did not struggle, they accepted the consequences. However, they remained bold in the proclamation of Christ. This is strong meekness. This is the example we are to follow. The only position we are to have before others is one of yieldedness, of meekness.
In concluding his thoughts on meekness, Lloyd-Jones made this statement, "The man who is truly meek is the one who is amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do." When we base our understanding of grace and mercy provided to us in the reality of our lives and sinners we have no other reaction than to be meek. We are underserving, yet we have been given beyond measure.
Meekness Procures the Proper Possession
Finally, we see that meekness presents a reward. Like all the beatitudes this is a conditional statement based upon one's ability to be meek. The simple statement is, "you will inherit the earth." This is to be our possession for now and for eternity, if we are meek. We can be understood in two ways: a present satisfaction and a future glory.
Presently, when we are meek we become inheritors of the earth because we find a new perspective on our lives here. If we are not meek we are focused on ourselves and become accustomed to wanting more and more and more. There is nothing that can satisfy the worldly, self-centered appetite for position and power in this world. We become insatiable. We become overcome by the three fold curse of 1 John 2:16 "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life." These things are not from God, but keep us from him. When we are meek and we are yielded to God and yielded to others, then we are able to inherit the earth. This means that we are then able to appreciate what is given to us. We are able to be satisfied with the portion the God has provided for us in this world. Think of a time when you were dissatisfied with something at your job or in your community. Nothing big, but the small things. More often than not it arose out of an inward focus, a lack of meekness, and you could accept the blessing God is giving to you at this present time. When we do yield our perspective broadens to see the blessings of God in our lives. We cannot see them if we are not meek.
We also have a future glory with meekness as well. One day Jesus swill come back and this present world will go away. A new heaven and a new earth will be created. We will be partakers of that kingdom if we are part of Jesus. So our meekness on this side of heaven, so to speak, is related to the eternal blessings of the new earth. The living hope within us (Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3) provides the perspective we must have for the future glory of being in God's kingdom. We must remember our actions in this life effect our eternal lives. Therefore we must be gentle to others, yielded to God, and hopeful of Christ's return.