A Brief Update
For those of you who are unable to gather corporately with us this Sunday, you are loved and missed! If this is you, we are providing the songs we are singing together this afternoon and a devotional based on the sermon being preached.
Songs We are Singing Together
Devotional on Matthew 5:5
In the sermon on the mount Jesus defines his kingdom, and describes the demands of his kingdom beginning with the beatitudes. The theme and theology of the beatitudes is about the kingdom of God and how that kingdom has invaded the life of an unbeliever through the transforming grace of the gospel. We can only live these beatitudes because we have first been born-again.
There is a progression to the Beatitudes. We must be poor in spirit to enter Christ’s kingdom; aware of our sin, mourning our sin, but then finding comfort in Christ’s saving grace that allows us to enter his kingdom.
Now we come to the third beatitude. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” which continues todescribe the blessing of life in Christ’s kingdom, not from a negative view but a positive one. Life in Christ’s kingdom is transforming, and the first place we see this transformation is how we act towards God and one another. This beatitude however was troubling to many.
For centuries the Jewish people waited for the Messiah, the promised deliverer who would free them from the Roman oppression. He would establish a kingdom that would militarily be unconquerable so they would never again have to live under someone else’s rule. They wanted a conquering hero not a humble, lowly carpenter who told them that the way to inherit their land is to be meek!
They wanted their land back, and they wanted Roman oppression crushed. They did not want a meek Messiah, so it’s not surprising why so many Jews rejected him. They simply did not understand why he came, and completely missed the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant.
What does it mean to be meek? It is the antithesis of pride, the very sin that brought humanity to ruin. This sin grossly distorts every good thing God created, and damages every relationship. It is a deadly sin we all struggle with where like William Ernest Henry who in his poem, “Invictus” – proudly states: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Like Adam and Eve our pride attempts to dethrone God.
Jesus was the perfect example of meekness. Rather than demanding his rightful place he laid aside his glory for our humanity. He became meek and lowly that we might be lifted up to eternal life through him being raised up on a cross. To be meek like Christ we must reject self-exaltation.
Paul writes in Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled (meek) himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Not only does Jesus’ meekness save us by him humbly going to the cross, but in his gentleness, he sustains us in all the trials and suffering we face willing to carry our burden in our place.
When Jesus tells his disciples about the blessing of “meekness” he knows that it will cost them something in this life, but he also knows what joy it will eventually bring. Meekness in a follower of Christ must be evident for that person to be a genuine disciple.
Where should we see “meekness” in a follower? It will find its expression in two places: meekness towards God, and meekness towards others.
To be meek towards God is to be submissive to his will: Whatever God does or allows in our lives; whatever circumstances he brings providentially, they are right and just and good. To be meek towards God is to not dispute his providences or resist his sovereign pathways.
Thomas Watson writes, “Let God do what he will with me, let him carve out what conditions he pleases, I will submit. God sees what is best for me, whether a fertile or barren soil.” Jonah in contrast had an “unmeek” spirit when he declared in 4:9: “I do well to be angry to the death.” He was angry with God because the Lord spared Nineveh but let his plant die, and he was willing to carry that anger against God into death.
The meek person trusts the Lord’s providences whether those providences take them into the beauty of Solomon’s temple or the dunghill of Job’s suffering, or the prison of Joseph’s persecution they will trust God’s goodness, and shepherding care.
Meekness is neither fatalistic or passive, but active in trusting that God.
By nature, we are not naturally meek so the Lord often he has to subdue and break our pride under his gentle but firm hand. He sends trials that reveal the secret ambitions in our hearts uncovering our self-reliance as he patiently helps us become meek.
To be meek towards God is to surrender to his word: The meek person seeks to conform to the mind of God through the word of God by not quarrelling with the word of God.
Meekness doesn’t stop with God. It plays out in life with others.
A meek or unmeek heart is most often revealed with others: spouses, children, members of this church, other family, neighbors, and co-workers. A good way to test your “meekness” is to ask yourself, “How easily do others offend you?” A meek heart is not easily offended by others, but rather like “wood saturated with water” that doesn’t easily catch fire. Someone easily offended is set off like a match to dry tinder. It is shocking and sad to see how often this happens in the church.
“That person walked right by me without saying hello.” “I can’t believe she said that to me about my child.” “I can’t believe they said that about my parenting.” “Why do I always have to be the one to initiate hospitality?” “I can’t stand how opinionated he is.” “Those words she said cut me like a knife.” “That person let me down.” “They made a mistake that cost me.”
Meekness towards others means we bear their injuries: People do injure us with their words and actions, but a meek heart is willing to bear those injuries. Proverbs 19:11 – “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Rather than letting our heart get easily enflamed we moderate our passion with meekness. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:15 – “Let the peace of Christ rule your heart.” This is meekness!
Meekness towards others means we forgive injuries: Rather than retaliate a meek soul forgives. Far more troubles in the church exist by people who easily take offense oftentimes when no offense was intended. Walking by – who knows what might trouble them.
Meekness towards others means returning good for evil: Matthew 5:44 – “Love your enemies and do good to them that hate you.” –Meekness is a great ornament that should adorn our lives. It is a true imitation of Christ who meekly endured the hatred, ridicule, rejection, and mocking of sinful humanity daily, and yet because he was meek, he was not willing that any should perish. How easily God could have crushed sinners, and kicked them into hell, but the Lord is long-suffering, slow to anger, and abounding in love.
Not only does he forgive sins but he cares for sinners. In Matthew 11:25 Jesus tells the weary and heavy laden to come to him – the very people who revile, mock, hate, and reject him. And ultimately on the cross he forgives. He does not return evil for evil but with good. Grace has saved us, and that is what we are to give to others. When we are injured we must not gossip about those who hurt us, slander those we might not like, use sarcasm (even in a humorous way), or ignore others with a quiet vengeance
Jesus begins this beatitude with the word; “Blessed” as he has the others, and he tells us what that blessing is. The meek person shall inherit the earth. It is a statement that has broad application. It speaks of both a “now and not yet” promise of God as we see in Psalm 37:11 – the psalm that Jesus is quoting in this beatitude.
In Psalm 37 the righteous are struggling with seeing the wicked prosper while they suffer, but God tells them what is really true – it is only for a season that the wicked prosper – for they will soon be judged and suffer while the righteous will soon be blessed.
The wicked man in a sense does rule the earth, for now, but not as a fruit of God’s favor. The “meek” saint can enjoy the earth now because even though it is a harsh place it can still be a place of peace (37:110). In John 14:27 “Jesus said, my peace I give you, my peace I leave with you, not as the world gives do, I give to you.”
Hope in the future, but also blessing now as well.
Song of Response
Sermon Audio from Recent Sundays