Blessed are the Meek

Blessed are the Meek

Let us pray for the reading of God’s word. This is from Psalm 19. Father, we ask that you would remember your word to us, your servants, in which you would have made us hope that it would be the comfort in our affliction and that your promise would give us life. That when we think of your rules of old, that we would take comfort, O Lord. Lord, we ask that your statutes would be our songs in the house of our sojourney, that we would remember your name in the night that we would keep your law. And Father, we ask that the blessings would fall on us as we keep your precepts. Father, we need you to work in our lives as we come to your word this morning. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. Again, as we continue to work through the beatitudes, we’ll be looking at the first 10 verses, we’ll be reading the first 10 verses. We’ll spend some time in Matthew 5:5. This is the Gospel. Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain. And when he sat down, his disciples came to him and he opened his mouth and taught them saying, Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, the word of our Lord, thanks be to God. You may be seated. We pray for the preaching of God’s word. Father, as my words are true to your word, may they be taken to heart. But if my words should stray from yours, may they be quickly forgotten. I pray this in the name and in the power of Jesus Christ. Amen. For a moment, it was worth it. And then, in a double disobedience, sins of omission and commission, Eve desired to be like God, forsaking all God’s gifts, she took and ate and gave it to her husband, who in his failure, failed to guard and to keep and was passively with her. That story is repeated again and again in Cain, striking down Abel in a jealous rage, in Israel, beaten and oppressed as slaves in Egypt, King David’s treatment of Uriah, Queen Jezebel, again and again.

You could also likely just maybe think back to a little earlier this morning or recently this past week, when you just had to assert your rights over and against another. Calvin, reflecting on the human race in general, he wrote, We are one flesh, and though appearance and attitudes are very different, it is impossible to face the unity which God has conferred on us all. And yet we do not see each other as one flesh. But through sinful lenses, we see ourselves in arrogance, as superior to some, or in our insecurities, as inferior to others. And those motivations fester into sinful interactions. We may look for ways to magnify ourselves. We may belittle others in attempt to exalt ourselves or conversely, we may simply squash them if we feel we have the power. But Jesus stands in contrast when he declares, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. What a strange beatitude we have before us this morning. Common sense and experience tells us very different things. They tell us that it is the great, the powerful that conquer. What we see all around us lends credibility to what Calvin calls the diabolical proverb.

It goes something like this, We must howl with the wolves because the wolves will devour anything that looks like a sheep. The cutthroat competition of life calls us to be wolves. Christ calls us to be sheep. Blessed are the meek. The meek are usually the last to inherit anything. They usually come in last, whether you’re talking about rodeo or the football, business or even relationships? It seems that in all of life, it’s the aggressive, the confident, the determined person who emerges victorious, the meek are left standing. I’m reminded of a time in Hong Kong. It was rush hour and in subway, and we lined up on the platform with the crowds. The trains came, the doors open, hundreds flowed in and out, the doors closed, the trains pulled away, and only my friends and I were left standing. How did we miss out? Blessed are the meek. And so for the next train, we quickly game-planned. We formed into a wedge. We locked arms and drove ourselves in. Blessed are the meek. It is strange language. And because Christ is calling us to meekness, it must be the work of his Holy Spirit. It is not either our natural state or inclination to be meek, but this is an essential quality of the Christian character.

Let us therefore consider what does it mean to be meek? A good place to start is looking at examples of meek characters in the Old Testament, Abraham, for instance, was meek as he dealt with Lot, allowing him to choose first the best grazing places. Moses, the great leader, was considered very meek numbers, 12:3 reads, more than all the people of the earth. You can see it when he disregards his abilities as a speaker, as a representative, and instead he pleads with God to send someone more gifted, or at least to give him a companion and a speaker. You can see it in David, the warrior king, the brave shepherd, who was meek in dealing with Saul. He restrained his strength, willing to suffer injustice and incredible hardship at the hand of Saul as he submitted to the Lord’s timetable. There are many examples in the New Testament as well. Think of Stephen literally praying for those who were stoning him. We see it in Paul, suffering from the churches that he planted that he encouraged. Listen to how he responds to one of those churches in 2 Corinthians 10, I, Paul, myself, entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who am humble when face to face with you.

Finally, we see it in Jesus. Jesus, who did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped or held onto, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. And being born in the likeness of man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. You can see in these examples that being meek doesn’t mean being lazy or idle. It’s not the art of avoiding conflict or pain or truth. The scripture calls us to face rather many difficult situations in life, in business and in relationships where we must do the hard work of moving into conflict or through pain or speaking truth. We can do that and still be meek. Being meek doesn’t mean being weak. To be weak is to lack power in a situation. To be meek is to have power, but choose to restrain oneself. To be weak is to be unable to exert influence. But to be meek is while having the strength or the power or the authority to influence the course of events to your own personal favor, you refuse to do so. One defines meekness as having a gentle and mild disposition, and you say it’s one who, quote, is not easily provoked by injuries.

And here we need look no further than Jesus’s conduct. When he was falsely tried and condemned, he is the perfect example of meekness. Martin Lloyd Jones mentions that one who is meek, quote, is not even sensitive about himself. He is not always watching himself or his own interests. He is not always on the defensive because he sees in himself, there is nothing worth defending. And this is why perhaps the call to meekness is even harder than our earlier calls or commands to be poor in spirit and to mourn. So as we consider that thought, we find that we’re now moving to that second question this morning. Why is Christ calling us to meekness? Now, the answer to this question requires that we back up for a moment and consider the beatitudes again as a whole and remembering that they build on one another. There’s a progressive nature that also applies to their difficulty as well. I think you’ll recognize that it is one thing to begin to factually and intellectually recognize the great difference between the holiness of God and our sinfulness. To understand the truth of the scriptures that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

To see objectively that all of our works cannot compare to God’s perfection. To admit our sense of justice even is warped. That our best efforts are often fueled by selfishness and scheming. And all of that insight can help us see that we are poor in spirit, which leads us to that second call and helps us to mourn. Once we see our spiritual bankruptcy, we are prepared to see the consequences of our sin, to see how our sin has damaged our lives and our relationships, to see how we have wounded people that we love and how we have also willingly separated ourselves from people who would love us, really, how we have rebelled against our heavenly Father. And when we see that, then we can weep, we can join our voices with Paul, who cries out, who will save me from this body of death? And at this point, we are ready to undertake the calling to meekness. And yet we find it is an altogether more difficult thing because it involves how we relate to others and the opinion of others regarding us. I think you’ll admit that it’s one thing to realize, I’m a sinner, to see my greed, my selfishness, my anger.

It’s another thing for me to listen to you tell me that I’m greedy or that I’m selfish or that I’m angry. I may be ready to confess my sin, but I may not be ready for you to to profess it or to broadcast it or even to show it back to me. Instinctively, I don’t want that transparency. I want to be shielded from my sin. But for the Christian, tension. Think about how important it is to be that transparent. Not only are we called to love one another, forgive one another, and encourage one another, but we are also called to sharpen one another, even as iron sharpens iron. I’ve had a few friends who are blacksmiths, and when they work with iron or steel to temperate, they’re always constantly looking for those weak spots and folding the steel back on itself and hammering it back out again, again and again. The sparks fly, the fire is hot, but the steel is becoming stronger and stronger. I think also about how David prays to God in Psalm 139, verses 23 and 24, Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way, everlasting.

See the difference meekness would make. We could pray that prayer. We could genuinely hope that the Lord would actually search all of us, not just our formal front rooms, but all the nooks and crannies of our lives. And realizing that God generally works in ordinary ways, we would realize that in the same way that God used an ordinary prophet, Nathan, to speak truth and to David’s life, to show him his grievous way. In the same way when we are meek, we can hear a brother or sister in Christ trying to help us see the speck or even the log in our own eyes. Christ wants us to be meek. He tells us we are blessed when we are meek. He shows us in his own life. He declares in his own words that he wants us, and he expects us to grow in our meekness. And so what shall we do? Ask God to lower your defenses, to teach you how to lower your defenses in your trusted relationships that the Holy Spirit would begin to make you more sensitive to the sin in your life, starting perhaps with the sin of defensiveness. Nothing shuts down the communication, sours the relationship that Susan and I enjoy faster than my defensiveness.

She can thoughtfully consider how to confront me. She can carefully orchestrate the setting. She can lead into a conversation with grace and truth. But the moment I become defensive, I can’t hear her. Surely, I kid myself, she doesn’t understand some dynamic. Surely, I can explain all this away. Do you not see how my pride is in direct opposition to what is truly best for me and for my growth? What if I were meek? And some of you know this scenario exactly. What if you were meek? What if you could listen? What if you could hear and then bear the faithful wounds of a friend? And yet to truly grow in meekness, it’s not just listening to hard truth from friends, but we must also bear the sarcasm and the slander, the insult and the injuries of those opposed to Christ who can’t bear to see our Lord as the King of Kings in our life, who refuse to submit to God’s reign, who feel threatened, confused, even angry when they see us surrendering our lives to God. To be meek means to stop thinking about ourselves. This is the key to learning how to bear patiently the sufferings of this world.

And we can only do it when we have surrendered everything to God, our future, our lives, our agenda, our rights, our pride, even our sense of justice and righteous indignation. We must surrender them to our Lord. This call to bear patiently is too much to do alone, which is why the Old New Testament scholar, Kent Hughes, reminds us that to cultivate meekness, we need to yoke ourselves to Christ. Matthew 11:29 and 30 reminds us or shows us Christ’s invitation to take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle, the Greek word here could also be translated meek, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. I understand from others that the best way to train a young ox to obey his master’s voice is to yoke him to an experienced ox. The older, stronger, and experienced ox will transfer his obedience through the yoke to the younger ox. The younger ox will literally feel the pull and the push of his superior partner’s obedience and learn. Because we are yoked to Jesus, we learn meekness and humility.

And what is the result of this meekness? David, in the 37th Psalm, verse 7, calls us to be still before the Lord, to wait patiently before him, fret not yourselves over the one who prosper’s in his way. And four verses later, we see the connection, but the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. The 37th Psalm to which Jesus was pointing to here in multiple times in the sermon of the Mount, we see at least two favorable results or rewards of meekness. Simply stated, that one, we’ll inherit the earth, and two, we will delight in peace. That one day we will inherit the earth is sure as the gospel itself. On this, Michael Wilkins writes, To inherit is ultimately pointing to Christ’s reign. We see that when we see Jesus Christ seated at the right-hand of the Father, knowing that he’s coming again to judge the living and the dead, and that on that day, he will usher in the new heavens and the new earth, that all who embrace these beatitudes, that is, to those who are poor in spirit, who weep at the sin in their life, who seek to be molded towards meekness, who see the benefits of being molded and made into the image of Christ as they hunger and thirst for righteousness to those Christ has made co-heirs with him.

And we shall inherit with Jesus. And one day, we, the meek, shall rule. With this end in sight. But we can endure momentary affliction. We can bear patiently. But the benefits aren’t just for some future date when Christ makes all things new. Right now, you can begin to inherit the earth if you would walk meekly. Why? Because you can delight in abundant peace right now. The one who is meek is the one who is content. The one who is meek has surrendered his will to the Lord. He is the one who, quoting Lloyd Jones again, is, quote, amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do. It is when you realize you’ve nothing in yourself worth defending, then every blessing you have becomes a glorious gift. When you realize that you’re undeserving, you’re actually freed up to enjoy. Without the anxious wondering, Will this work out for me? Will this work out in my favor? Will everything be okay? When you’ve given that up in meekness, you can finally enjoy some real peace. I know you see the challenges, but do you see the benefits?

Open wide your heart. Be finished with yourself, which many have rightly called the source of all our troubles, is me. Humble yourself, confess your sins, admit your petty selfishness, and rejoice in the reality that Christ has willingly, knowingly, lovingly paid so much to ransom and redeem you. And he’s done that to call you a joint heir with him that one day, the land and everything that he has, he will give you. And also right now, a heart that can delight in true peace. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Let us pray. Father, we do give you all thanks and praise this day that you have indeed given us yourself. That you, the line of Judah, was also the perfect and spotless lamb. Father, that you lived and died for us. And now, Lord, that your spirit comforts and convicts us that we too might grow in Christ-likeness. Father, we need your help. We need your spirit to be at work in our life. We need you to let us see yourselves, your beauty, your love, your compassion, your faithfulness, your care. And Father, enable us then to respond, to live lives in gratitude, fully trusting that you will work all things to our good.

Father, we pray this in Jesus name and for his sake, Amen. At this point, I want.

Disclaimer: Automated Sermon Transcription