Summary: The reward of meekness, of being controlled by the Holy Spirit, is the assurance that when Christ returns and ushers in the new creation, we will be there to rejoice with the saints and enjoy God’s presence forever.
I saw a segment on TV the other day about a feature in Cleo magazine which lists Australia’s 50 most eligible bachelors. As you can imagine, they were the epitome of what you might describe as desirable young men. They were the sort who get elected as the school captain, or who get leading parts in TV shows or movies. The sort that most young men wish they could be like. They were athletic, well built, good-looking. But what I want to suggest today, is that there’s a much more desirable characteristic that we should all be aspiring to. That’s the characteristic of meekness.
I wonder what you think of when I mention meekness. If I were to tell you I met someone yesterday who was a really meek person, I wonder what sort of image that would throw up in your mind. Most of us these days, I think, associate the idea of meekness with someone who’s weak and timid. Perhaps we think of Clark Kent, the mild mannered reporter who disappears whenever danger threatens. Perhaps we think of the school weakling who was always being picked on by the tough kids.
That’s a sad thing because it totally misses the point of what Jesus is saying. Our problem is that the word has changed its meaning since Jesus’ day.
If you’ve ever been to a rodeo or seen one on TV or in a movie, you’ll no doubt have seen the Bronco buster trying to stay on the wild stallion for 10 seconds. It’s probably one of the most popular events in a rodeo. Why? Because of the power, the brute force, the strength, the danger. A bucking bronco seems so powerful doesn’t it? But compare that with the mounts used in the Olympics for the 3-day endurance event. There a horse has to have the strength, not just to throw a rider in less than 10 seconds, but to carry a rider over rough ground for kilometre after kilometre for 3 days straight. In fact when you think about it, the power of those horses has to be far greater than that of the bucking bronco at the rodeo doesn’t it? Well, you know what the difference is between the rodeo horse and the horse in the Olympics, don’t you. The difference is that the one in the Olympics has been tamed. It’s had to get used to having a saddle on it. It’s had to learn to allow a rider to sit on that saddle. It’s had to learn to respond to the bit in its mouth so it does what the rider tells it. Then it’s able to be trained so it can be strong enough to survive the rigours of a 3-day event.
Do you know what the word was that was used in Jesus’ day for that process of taming and then training a horse? It was the word that’s translated here as meek. Meekness was the attribute of a horse that was well trained, obedient, disciplined. Its strength hadn’t been reduced, but rather was enhanced, channelled in a useful direction as a result of discipline applied by its trainer.
In the early days of the history of Israel there were two brothers, sons of Jacob, or Israel. One was Reuben, the first-born son. He’s described like this: (Gen 49:3-4 NRSV) "Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first fruits of my vigor, excelling in rank and excelling in power." He had all the potential to be a leader. He was strong, people looked up to him, but because he lacked discipline, he failed to live up to his potential, and the leadership of his family passed to another. That other was Joseph, the second youngest son. The difference with him was that he had great self-discipline. Through a number of incidents where he was challenged by peer pressure, sexual temptation, the possibility of personal gain and the opportunity to take revenge on those who had hurt him, he refused to give in. Rather than give in to the seduction of Potiphar’s wife, he chose to govern his natural desires and resist the temptation. When he was imprisoned unjustly he chose not to give in to bitterness, but to wait for God to vindicate him. And having exercised authority over his own desires, after having learned to rule himself, he was in turn given authority over the whole land of Egypt.
I have a cousin who loved horse riding. So her parents bought her a horse. It had been a race horse at one stage but was now retired. The trouble was, when she got it, it hadn’t been ridden for some time and so was very hard to control. In fact they thought at first they might have to return it, because its lack of discipline destroyed its usefulness as a saddle pony. How many times do we see that in people? We see someone who’s full of promise, but because they lack self-discipline, or because they’re stubborn, or self-willed, their potential is never fulfilled.