This is the fourth message in a series of Jesus’ statements called the Beatitudes that are found in the Sermon on the Mount.
Last week’s message on “Blessed are those who mourn” resulted in the most moving outpouring of responses in the more than 12 years that I have written the Word of Grace for Your Monday. There is a lot of grief and pain out there, but even more faith. To each one of you who wrote me, thank you for sharing the hardest steps of your journey with me and testifying to the faith and grace that gets you through your days and nights.
David wrote —
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and he saves those whose spirits have
We mourn because we love. Our God who is love knows that and his heart breaks too. There are times when you can’t see the Lord or feel him, but his arms do not tire and he never lets go of you or those you love.
. . .
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5).
If ever a perfectly good word has received a bad rap, it would be “meek.” The world defines it with colloquial phrases like “milk toast”, “namby-pamby”, “weak”, “push-over”, “wimpy”, “bland”, “ineffectual”, “non-assertive”.
Meekness is definitely not the quality of character that we’d attribute to those who would qualify to receive the entire earth as an inheritance. But hello, we are not Jesus and he says otherwise.
Are we strong enough to face the demands, temptations, and conflicts of living with equanimity, integrity, humility and self-control? Because that’s meekness — the kind of strength that Jesus said would receive the blessings and benefits of this earth.
I can imagine the people in the crowd listening to Jesus, looking at each other and asking, “Who can possibly achieve that kind of strength?”
Jesus teaches us by putting questions in our minds that he wants us to think through. We can’t simply determine to be meek!” That’s not going to happen no matter how much we grit our teeth and “white-knuckle” our efforts at meekness.
But that’s Jesus’ point — the “meek” are those with nothing to prove. To paraphrase the theologian Paul Tillich, “They accept that they are accepted.”
The meek are “humble,” a synonym for “meek,” because they, like “the poor in spirit” cast all their concerns upon the Lord realizing that he cares about them (1 Peter 5:7). When circumstances surround them like an invading army, their hearts don’t fear; though war rises up and threatens to engulf and destroy them, they are confident as David describes them in Psalm 27:3.
How could one ever become trusting enough to be considered meek by the Lord and worthy of inheriting the earth? Meekness is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23). It is an attribute that comes with the choice to live God’s way, by God’s power (Gal 5:25). Jesus invites any and all to come and learn from him because he is “meek and lowly in heart” (Matt 11:29, KJV).
What did Jesus mean when he said, “I am meek and lowly in heart?” Jesus lived on this earth in obedient submission to the Father. “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).
The secret to becoming meek is to look to the Lord and no one else with a single-mindedness that seems ruthless to those who want us to join or follow them . David in his great anthem of meekness said the one thing that he asked of the Lord was to live in his presence for all the days of his life, to look at his beauty and to be able to ask his questions in the Lord’s house (Ps 27:4).
The world shouts at us and pleads with us to let it fill our needs and wants. The world is angered by those who say they don’t need or want its offerings, who do not fear its disapproval and who refuse to sanctify its conflicts with their participation. The philosopher Frederick Nietzsche claimed that “Blessed are the meek” represented the “slave morality” of Jesus. Others assert that it was only a valid observation as long as Christians remained a small and powerless sect. The notoriously acquisitive oil baron J. Paul Getty commented that “The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights.”
The dark side of human pride is what it must do to others to feed itself. The minute humans decided to compete with God rather than follow him we were on a course to compete with each other. Soon the Lord was asking Cain, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground” (Gen 4:10). Not long after that Lamech was boasting, “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me” (Gen 4:23).
Erudition and piety will not mask the problem. The cold-blooded, viperous high priest Caiaphas sought his own advantage keeping one eye on the Romans and one eye on the prerogatives of his family and class. Jesus proved to be a disturbing distraction. He entered the scene concerned only with what his Father thought. He had nothing to prove to either Romans or Sadducees and they killed him for his disinterest in their schemes. He was bad for their business.
The world’s franchises are devalued when Jesus shows up. With Jesus, the meek have no need of what the world is selling. If Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, the market share of human enterprise is threatened and political power structures are rendered impotent. Therein lies the power of the meek and why the Creator will give them the world as he intended it to be as their inheritance.
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it . . . ” said David (Ps 24:1). The Apostle Paul cited this text as authority for the freedom of conscience and action of the believer in Christ (2 Cor 10:23-33).
If the Lord is in possession and control, those who let his strength be their strength will have the free run of the place. The blessing of the meek is the life of Jesus at work in them. Their inheritance of the earth is the intended consequence of the blessing.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).
Under the mercy of Christ,
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