Summary: A backwards look at the strength of the meek. Part 4
October 19, 2008
When we think about people who have made a difference in the world, we tend to think about the rich, the powerful, the resourceful. We think about the people who have all of the advantages and somehow can say what they want, and they get an audience who listens.
When we think about people who are difference makers, when we hear about recipes for success, the first thing to be mentioned is NOT the topic of today’s message. We don’t consider MEEKNESS as one of the top requirements or goals for success.
Think about it, when is the last time you heard someone say, “If you want to succeed in life, you need to be meek.” Or, “If you want to rise to the top and get somewhere in life, you must demonstrate meekness?” Unfortunately, meekness isn’t a valued quality in our day. The world’s philosophy of success says be assertive, no, do more than be assertive, go to the Donald Trump school of success and be aggressive . . . go for the throat! Do whatever’s necessary to come out ahead. That’s the plan for life according to the world, but that isn’t what Jesus said.
This morning we are looking at the 3rd of the 8 Beatitudes Jesus said as he began the Sermon on the Mount. Not only does Jesus want us to adopt certain attitudes, He wants us to make life changes so that we would become more like Him, and improve our character. Remember, Jesus was on mapping out how a disciple should look on the inside. And once you change on the inside, the cool thing is that your outside changes, too. John Piper wrote, “Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount so that his Father would get the glory for the way the disciples lived.”
So, let’s look at what Jesus said,
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
So, what does it mean to be meek? Most people associate meekness with another word which rhymes with it . . . any guesses? WEAKNESS!
Why is that? Most definitions of meek include words like “mild, modest, broken, humble, and another Biblical word would be LONG - SUFFERING. When you think about it, who wants their character to be associated with LONG - SUFFERING, broken, or modest. Someone who is long suffering is often considered a wimp. They suffer and they suffer, then they suffer some more. They don’t have the guts to stand up for themselves, so they are lumped as part of the weak, or meek.
To others, the word meek brings to mind a person who is unable to stand firm on a position, they’re easy to persuade, and are weak minded and weak willed.
Have you ever heard of the "Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls"? When you make an acrostic of the first letters of its name, you have the word "Doormats." The Doormats have an official insignia—a yellow caution light. Their official motto is: "The meek shall inherit the earth, if that’s OK with everybody!"
So, what does the word MEEK really mean? I am so glad you asked.
The word for MEEK (praus) was described by Aristotle as the middle ground between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness. Theologian, William Barclay translates this Beatitude this way, “Blessed is the person who is always angry at the right time, and never angry at the wrong time.”
Think about that definition for a moment. It seems pretty mild and tame, but it isn’t. How many people do you really know who become angry at the right time, and don’t become angry at the wrong time.
Most people think about anger as something that’s inappropriate, but this is not true. Anger is a very real emotion we have received from God, it’s just a matter, and a big matter of how we use the anger within us.
Think about what this says about the word MEEK, because our world needs some righteous anger, appropriate anger can be great and bring about needed results.
• A teacher should be angry when a child is not learning / or when parents don’t care.
• A politician should be angry about our economy, about unemployment.
• A doctor should be angry about illness and disease.
• Christians should be angry about sin; ours and the worlds.
• Not angry at the person, but filled with passion that we want to lead more and more people to Christ.