Summary: 3rd sermon in an 8 part series on the Beatitudes. This series challenges us to "Shift" our thinking in what really brings true happiness. (*Refreshed with some rewrite in 8/08. PowerPoint and Video Clips available on request.)
THE MERITS OF MEEKNESS
Maybe there is no other beatitude, spoken by Jesus, that is more confusing than the one we study today. “Blessed are the meek...” Why is it confusing? Because we don’t think of meekness as a desired attribute in our character. How many of you have ever put "meek" on your resume? No-one. We’ve all heard it.. "He’s meek as a ____? Mouse.” One wife asked her husband, "Well, are you a man or a mouse?" When he hesitated she said, "Come on, come on, squeak up!" Being Superman is cool but who wants to be“meek Clark Kent? And that’s the picture most of us get when we hear the word meek... we think of a whipped puppy, a milk toast personality. Yet Jesus says, "Blessed (Happy many times over) are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Being meek was important to Him. So, let’s see, if by a closer study of the Bible we can clear up the confusion.
I. THE DEFINITION:
First of all, let’s define Jesus’ word here. We’ll start as we have each week by looking at what "meek" does not mean. Meekness is NOT weakness. Have you heard of the "Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls"? When you make an acrostic of its first letters you get "Doormats." The Doormats have an official insignia- a yellow caution light. Their official motto is: "The meek shall inherit the earth, if that’s okay with everybody! This actual society was founded by Upton Dickson, who wrote a pamphlet entitled Cower Power. Jesus is not talking about some weak, never stand up for themselves, coward here.
Nor does meekness mean powerlessness. Father Joseph Murphy tells the story of some nuns who were attending a baseball game. Behind them sat some anti-Catholics. One said very loudly, "Let’s go to Texas; I hear there aren’t many Catholics there." His companion replied, "Or Oklahoma; there are fewer Catholics there." The first retorted rudely, "Let’s go to Alaska; there are almost no Catholics there!" Finally one of the nuns turned and said, "Gentlemen, you could go to Hell, for there are assuredly no Catholics there." Being meek does not mean we must accept all insults or injustice without ever speaking up. It doesn’t mean weak, cowardly or powerless. So what does it mean?
The word Jesus uses for meek here is the Gk. word "praus." That word described a wild animal which has been brought under control, able to respond to the master’s reins. It is, for instance, used of a horse which has become obedient to the rider; of a sheep-dog who has been trained by kindness to obey every word of command. There are only two people in Scripture that have this attribute describe them. One of them was Moses and the other is Jesus. Neither of them would be classified as weak, cowardly, or powerless! Both of them are described that way because of the fact that they allowed God to control them. The best definition of meekness is strength under control. George Matheson was right in praying, "Make me Your captive Lord, control me, and then I shall be free." My father has always said something that applies here and is very true.. "We are mastered not by what we master, but by what masters us.” The key word here is submissiveness or moldability. A meek person is one who is controlled by God. Now, Jesus is not saying, never be angry, never be ambitious, never be assertive.. But He is saying, "display those emotions in a right fashion... under my control." When you are meek, Jesus’ way, you are mastered by God, under the control of Jesus Christ. Jesus is saying, "Happy, many times over, is the person who is submissive to My Spirit rather than controlled by their own flesh."
II. THE APPLICATION:
So, how does this apply to our lives? Well, first and foremost it has application to our inner most being. Remember, the beatitudes are not a list of proverbs or a collection of independent sayings, but rather are a step-by-step description of how God builds the heart. First, we are humble enough to recognize our need.. we admit our need for a Savior, we are poor in spirit. Next, we repent of our self-sufficient ways, we mourn.. we know we are wrong and ask for forgiveness. No excuses. No justification. Just tears. The first two steps are admittance of inadequacy and repentance of pride. Then this step is the one of renewal: Realizing our weakness leads us to The true source of strength- God. Renewal comes when we quit calling the shots and submit to the control of Jesus Christ- that’s when we are meek. The first two pass us through the fire of purification; the third places us in the hands of the Master, to be molded, used as His tool. So spiritually it means that we have recognized our need, repented of our sin and are going to live our lives by Jesus’ design and under His control. It is the act of making Jesus, Lord. It is saying, “Jesus, you are the director of my life, I put myself under your control.”