Summary: If i am going to experiencing the happiness described by our Savior in the Beatitudes, I must put self in proper perspective.
As we have been looking at our Savior’s teaching here in the Beatitudes, we have made note of how Jesus lays out for us here a blueprint for how we might experience the true happiness that only God can give - a sense of contentment, peace, joy, and fulfillment that the world cannot give us and cannot take away from us.
We have looked to the first Beatitude in Matthew 5:3, where our Lord tells us that the first step down the path that leads to true happiness involves my gaining the proper perspective on salvation. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus says that the first step on the road to experiencing true happiness involves my acknowledging my spiritual poverty - my utter inability to earn a right relationship with God. It is only as I acknowledge my spiritual poverty that I will then place my trust in God’s saving power. When I trust in God’s power to save through placing my faith in Christ, then I am born into God’s family and I become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
We next looked to Matthew 5:4, where Jesus tells us that as citizens of God’s kingdom, we will only experience the true happiness God has planned for us as we gain the proper perspective on sin. “Blessed are they who mourn,” Jesus said, “for they will be comforted.” Jesus speaks here of the only sorrow that leads to happiness - godly sorrow over sin.
Godly sorrow over sin comes from learning to view my sin in light of
God’s perfection rather than man’s imperfection. When I have godly sorrow over my sin, I will be led to repent - to look to God to change my attitude and actions regarding that sin - which is the key to experiencing the victory over the deadly power of sin in my life. This is what James referred to when he said: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” - James 4:8-10 (NLT)
Now, let’s look to the third Beatitude in Matthew 5:5
What a shock our Lord’s statement must have been to His audience! In effect, Jesus said that contrary to the world’s opinion, it is the meek, not the mighty, who will inherit the earth. This teaching was absolutely foreign to their thinking. Consider the kind of thinking our Lord’s audience was used to:
They knew how to be spiritually proud.
They knew how to be self-sufficient.
They knew how to play the pious role.
They knew how to practice religion.
They were really good with form.
They thought they were the “in” group.
They thought they could survive on their own strength and wisdom and might and resources.
And when the Messiah arrived, they expected Him to usher them into His kingdom and say, “I’m here to commend you for your religiosity, for your wonderful spirituality. God has looked down from heaven and He’s very well-pleased with you.”
But Jesus under-minded their whole approach to life with these statements on what constitutes true happiness. Jesus had told them that what was required to experience true happiness in life was an acknowledgement of one’s spiritual poverty, a repentant spirit, and an attitude of meekness.
Our society is not unlike their, however. Our world also elevates self. We are told that the way to happiness is to exalt self, to promote self, to look out for self.
Jesus says, “If you want true happiness, you must gain the proper perspective on self: you must develop an attitude of meekness.” Let’s take some time to consider some things about meekness.
1. The essence of meekness - v. 5a
The dictionary tells us that meekness means, “To be deficient in courage.” But that is not the Bible’s meaning at all. The Scriptural word “meek” comes from the Greek word “praos,” which means “mild, gentle, and soft.” The word was used in the ancient world to describe a soothing medicine, a gentle breeze, or a colt that had been broken and domesticated.
The latter usage helps inform us as to what Jesus was speaking of here. To be meek means to have been tamed. Specifically, it refers to my willingness to submit to God’s control over my life.
One who is meek has transferred control of his life from self to God. His life is not self centered, but God centered. He is not absorbed with self, but he is absorbed with God. He is not living a life of self determination, but a life as God determines.