Summary: Examination of the third BE-Attitude: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
PURSUING HAPPINESS: Strength Under Control
Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”
James 1:2-8; 19-25
1. Acts 17:6 – in response to Paul and Silas’ preaching of the Gospel and the conversion of numbers of Jews and devout Greeks and many of the city’s leading ladies – the leading Jews gathered a crowd of rabble rousers to arrest and drag them from their host’s house before the city authorities.
• Unable to find Paul and Silas, who were secretly hidden by their hosts and helped to escape, they dragged Jason, the host, and some of the new converts before the magistrates.
• The charge that they brought against these new believers was this: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
2. Turning the world as we know it, upside down. Wherever the church has truly been the church and believers have been faithful in their witness as followers of Jesus Christ and not allowed the world to squeeze them into its mold - that is exactly what happens.
• And that is precisely the message Jesus clarifies for His disciples in the Beatitudes and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.
• We discover here a wisdom that is so contrary to the mindset and ways of this world. In the Kingdom, those who want to go up need to go down – the way of exaltation is the way of humility. The way to be first is to be last. True strength is found in weakness. True riches in poverty or bankruptcy. True and lasting comfort in mourning.
3. We have discovered thus far that the very first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” is the ground floor port of entry to the Christian life – acknowledging our utter spiritual bankruptcy before God.
• Whatever currency, and however much of it, we had acquired for ourselves in the world, has no purchasing power in God’s Kingdom and we come to God acknowledging our poverty.
4. The next step on God’s stairway to Abundant Life is that of mourning our condition – where our hearts grieve over the pain we have brought to the heart of God.
• We start seeing our sin and rebellion from God’s perspective and we grieve over it.
• Instead of comparing ourselves to those more wicked than we are, we see ourselves in the light of Christ and our hearts are broken in sorrow and repentance.
• It is at that point that the gracious mercy, forgiveness, and comfort of God floods our souls and we start experiencing His true happiness.
5. Today we move to the next step which pronounces God’s Blessing and Happiness on the meek and promises that they will inherit the earth.
• So, what images come to your mind when you think of “the meek”? In an aggressive, arrogant, self-assertive and self-seeking world that has elevated individual rights almost to a place of universal supremacy – meekness smacks of timidity, of weakness, of spinelessness and being a general doormat for others.
• Roget’s Thesaurus online confirms this perspective by offering the primary definition of meekness as “hesitancy” and offering as synonyms the following: backwardness, bashfulness, constraint, doubt, fear, hesitation, humility, insecurity, modesty, mousiness, reluctance, reserve, self-consciousness, sheepishness, shyness, timidity, timidness, timorousness, unassertiveness.
• Well, I’m sorry, but they have missed the boat on that one! It’s also the perspective that Hollywood uses to portray Christians and pastors in sitcoms, soaps, and movies so much of the time – as bumbling oaf’s and dimwitted, backward, irrelevant and spineless fools.
• Nothing could be further from the truth. The Biblical understanding of meekness is literally “strength under control” – and it is that thought that I wanted to capture with the picture on the front of your bulletin of the powerful stallion, with rippling muscles and rearing to go, but constrained by the bit in his mouth and the reins of his owner.
6. In Numbers 12 we have a story of Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ sister and brother questioning his authority as spokesperson from God, saying “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?”
• And verse 3 of that chapter describes Moses in this way: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth.”
• Believe me, no wimpy “Mr. Milktoast” would ever have been capable of leading 600,000 men plus women and children and livestock out of Egypt and through the Sinai desert for 40 years with all the mumbling and grumbling and criticism and stiff-necked rebellion he had to endure.
• Instead, Moses was a mighty and courageous man who allowed God to place a bit in his mouth and willingly placed the reins of control in God’s hands.