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Summary: Part 4 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside. In this part we examine the beatitude, “Blessed are the meek...” and "Blessed are those hunger and thirst for righteousness..."

Part 4 - The Meek, and Those who Hunger After Righteousness

Sermon on the Mount

The Christian Character

Matthew 5:3 - 7:27

(Cf. Luke 6:20-49)

This is Part 4 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside as he delivered what is more familiarly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” In this part we examine the beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

The 14 parts are as follows:

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Beatitudes – the poor in spirit

Part 3 - Beatitudes – those who mourn

Part 4 - Beatitudes – the meek, and those who hunger and thirst

Part 5 - Beatitudes – the merciful and the pure in heart

Part 6 - Beatitudes – peacemakers

Part 7 - Beatitudes – the persecuted and insulted

Part 8 - Salt of the earth and light of the world

Part 9 - Righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees; divorce, oaths

Part 10 - Eye for eye, loving neighbor and hating enemy, being perfect

Part 11 - Three things to do, not to be seen by men and a model prayer

Part 12 - Laying up treasures, eye is the lamp of the body, serving two masters

Part 13 - Do not judge, do not give what is holy to dogs and pigs

Part 14 - Ask, seek, and knock; the narrow gate; false prophets; building on the rock

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Review

Last week we discussed the beatitude, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4).

A definition of mourning is hardly needed. We’ve all suffered loss and mourned, sometimes bitterly in the aftermath. Everyone mourns. Some may be mourning now. It’s a necessary element in the process of healing the wounds in our hearts.

It has been suggested that Jesus is talking about mourning because of our sins, because there is comfort in knowing Jesus has taken them all away.

I can see that as one application, provided that one mourns over his sins, prior to bringing them to Jesus. But we mourn about other things, and the language of the beatitude does not specify sins as the object of mourning that leads to blessedness in comfort received.

No cause of the mourning is specified by Jesus, so we shouldn’t restrict it in our thinking to something Jesus didn’t say.

2 Corinthians 1:3 tell us God is the provider of all comfort, regardless of what the channel of comfort is – a parent, spouse, friend, fellow Christian…or directly from God himself.

I have been told by someone in the throes of deep grief, when things were at their worst, “I felt God take my hand.” I have experienced something similar. Don’t ask me to explain it. It’s to be experienced, not analyzed.

End of review

Part 4 - The Meek, and Those who Hunger After Righteousness

BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, FOR THEY WILL INHERIT THE EARTH (Matt 5:5)

Jesus appears to be quoting Psalm 37:11

… the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

The phrase “inherit the earth” appears two other times in that Psalm, and once in Psalm 25.

More later on that inheritance.

Meekness – as we use the word in today’s parlance - isn’t a quality we ordinarily aim for. We’d rather be self-assured, feisty, sassy, take-charge people. We want others to think of us that way. We feel complimented when others describe us in those terms. In common use, “meek” seems to be the opposite of the personality we admire. It seems to suggest weakness, not strength.

Moses was said to be a meek man. How meek was Moses? Let’s find out:

Num 12:3 ESV - Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.

Several translations render the word “humble.”

Meekness is not bashfulness, or weakness, as it has come to mean in our day. In Moses and Jesus, meekness was co-mingled with powerful leadership qualities. But they were also gentle and tender, except when the circumstances required that they exercise other characteristics.

What does “meek” mean in the sermon on the mount? Is meekness “gentle strength” as some suggest? Maybe that’s a fair way to abbreviate it. Indeed, the meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult and be silent, or return a soft answer. Someone who is meek is humble and gentle - mild, tender, and considerate of others. Someone who is meek is not rough, cruel, and harsh...in short, a ruffian, a brute. But perhaps there’s a more comprehensive way of learning about meekness.

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