Monday, April 17, 2006
1 Peter 3:8-12 Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. 10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and he must turn away from evil and do good. He must seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth
Phil 4:5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; ESV
(CEV) Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here.
Tit 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
One of the benefits of having children is getting to watch cartoons without having to explain yourself. Several years ago, there was a television program called “Pinky and the Brain” featuring two mice. Pinky was a rather bizarre character who would be complimented if described as not very bright. Brain was just as his name suggests, a brilliant scientist who had only one consuming drive—to take over the world. At the start of every episode, Pinky would ask, “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” He would answer, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!” Most of us are not really interested in taking over the whole world, just the portion we deal with the most! We want to be in control of our world, to have the reins in our hands instead of being at the mercy of someone or something else. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, Jesus makes a very interesting statement that most of us have a hard time comprehending because it seems to be the exact opposite of what we really believe. He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
While others clamor and fight to get their piece of the pie, the meek rest confidently and quietly in the promises of Christ.
1. THE PROBLEM OF SELF-PROMOTION AND SELF PROTECTION
Apart from Christ, each person seeks his/her own best interests and sees nothing wrong with being either ambitious or aggressive if that is what it takes to get ahead. Self-promotion, we are told, is necessary for you to succeed in a world where everyone else is operating with that agenda. People think nothing of pushing themselves to the front, stepping on people in order to get ahead, and acting more aggressively without concerning themselves about who they might hurt along the way. Even Christians are counseled to do the same thing—pushing one church ahead of another, promoting your own ministry, putting your own picture on the cover of your books, finding agents who can “get you name recognition” so that you can promote yourself in the competitive world of Christian ministry. May God protect us from ambition arising from self-promotion instead of an ambition for the glory of Christ alone!
-Meekness is viewed with disdain and those who come across as meek are pitied, mocked or run over! All the self-esteem teaching and assertiveness training currently flooding the marketplace of ideas promote the idea that you are master of your own future, the designer of your own dreams and you must allow nothing to get in the way of pushing your way to the top—whatever your field of interest. Only when you are on top, we are told, can you ever be satisfied, so never allow yourself to take a backseat, or be talked into professional suicide by acting with meekness!
Somewhere along the line, someone convinced us that life is filled with rights that we have a responsibility to claim—the more we can discover and claim for ourselves, the greater our advantage over others. Suggesting that my rights have been restricted ranks up there with the highest forms of injustice we can imagine because we actually have been taught to think that we deserve whatever we want.
In the original language it communicated what A. T. Robertson calls a “fine blend of spiritual poise and strength…It is the gentleness of strength, not mere effeminacy.”
Bringing all this together, we can then forge a definition for “meekness” that states its meaning like this…That godly quality of deep spiritual power controlled by a quiet confidence and gentleness of spirit… …It does not come unhinged when life goes haywire but remains totally submissive to the ways and will of God.
Matthew Henry -- “Next to the beauty of holiness, which is the soul’s agreement with God, is the beauty of meekness, which is the soul’s agreement with itself. Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is for the flowers of the soul to dwell in unity, the reason knowing how to rule the affections, at the same time, knowing how to obey.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible)
2. THE POWER OF SELF-DENIAL
MEEKNESS IN THE WAY YOU RELATE TO YOURSELF
So you want to take over your world in the right way? -Begin by submitting your will to Jesus Christ so that He can empower you to yield willingly, graciously and humbly before God and man, and in the way you “take in hand” the attitudes of your own soul.
1. Rule Your Own Spirit Prov. 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
2. Ruled by His Peace Col. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Meekness preserves the tranquility of mind and spirit when the peace of Christ rules over me.
MEEKNESS IN THE WAY YOU RELATE TO PEOPLE. When meekness governs my heart, the way I relate to people changes drastically so that I relate to them the way Jesus does.
1. The Power of Silence Psa. 38:13-15 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; 14 I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. 15 I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.
It was not that David could not hear, not that he could not speak, but in meekness of spirit, he chose to keep silent and let the Lord hear and answer.
Matthew Henry – “It is better by silence to yield to our brother, who is and has been or may be our friend, than by angry speaking to yield to the devil, who has been, and is and ever will be, our sworn enemy.”
2. The Peace-making of Soft Words Prov. 25:15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Prov. 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
MEEKNESS IN THE WAY YOU RESPOND TO GOD.
Meekness writes a hymn and sings it day by day, moment by moment: “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way. Thou art the Potter, I am the clay; mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”
Meekness…”does not imply an attitude dependent solely on the human will. It is a sign of salvation: of “calling” (Eph. 4:2), election (Col. 3:12), and the work of the Holy Spirit (Gal. ). It is not a virtue …but a possibility of life and action given by God. It is not an aspect of human temperament. It comes about when men are linked with Christ and are conformed to his image.” Meekness is about a commitment to allow something, Someone, other than ourselves to rule our world. God’s word makes it clear that those who follow Jesus Christ will be meek just as He is.
We laugh at the insanity of two mice thinking that they can take over the world. But we get angry when someone tries to take over our world.
The proud had become meek! And meekness stands out head and shoulders above arrogance! Jesus calls us to meekness—not the kind that causes us to cower in fear, but a decision to govern our hearts so that our lives are marked by strength under God’s control.
A meek and humble spirit are delightful to the heart of God and attractive to the eyes of man in adorning the name of Jesus Christ with the glory due His name.
Meekness has been panned as a quality because it has been viewed as a weakness by most people—unfamiliar with what it should be and unimpressed by what they think it is. Therefore, even among Christians, meekness is seldom mentioned as a godly quality we are actively seeking. In order to provoke more meekness in the body of Christ, today we will explore three observations that should motivate us to be among those Jesus lauds when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
3. THE PURSUIT
1. WE MUST TREASURE MEEKNESS Although we might be required to invest a lot of time and energy in tasks we do not enjoy or value, we consider it a pleasure to pour ourselves into doing what we really want to do. People who complain about inconveniences at church, or at work, pay little attention to those same inconveniences when they are related to what they really desire to do…things they truly value. Sports fans will park a mile away, sit through driving rain, scream till they are hoarse and pay a lot of money to participate in their chosen past-time. I got to go to the Masters golf tournament this year and in spite of the pouring rain, the heavy traffic, the distance I had to drive, I would not have missed it!
It occurred to me that I should have that same passion, that same desire, place an even higher value, on spiritual pursuits. What delights the heart of God should at the very least move me to invest what it takes to value the same thing. He delights in meekness, gentleness, humility—so I should place a similar emphasis on such things in my own life! I must value meekness, treasure it, in order that I may desire it enough to pursue it through Christ.
A. IT IS LIKE JESUS Matt. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.
Jesus is meek…that is what He is like, so if you do not treasure meekness or place any value in it, that aspect of the life of Christ has little or no value to you. But if I love Christ, I love everything about Him and treasure each aspect of His character—even the meekness that sometimes leaves me unimpressed, or even indifferent. If I want to be like Jesus, I will treasure meekness and desire it and do whatever it takes to “take His yoke…learn from Him”…and become meek.
B. IT IS FROM JESUS James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
I cannot just follow His example and become meek—I have to realize that He gives it to me and makes it a part of my new life in Him. When He transforms me, as He conforms me to His image, as He shapes me to be like Him, as part of the package I am made meek like Him. It is available nowhere else and cannot be reproduced or counterfeited by anyone who has not been made new in Christ.
The wisdom that comes from above that becomes mine when He gives me the mind of Christ produces an attitude in me which is like that which is in Christ.
Phil. 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Apart from Christ, I can only play with meekness, attempt to act meekly—but my heart and mind cannot keep up the charade if my heart still clings to rights and longs to show off its power.
Some preachers, teachers and evangelists today have bought into the idea that the most effective tool to reach people for Christ is power…demonstrated with miraculous deeds and accompanied by signs and wonders. They are partly right…power from on high is an effective tool, but it is power under control, power in an understated manner by willingly choosing the low place that ultimately convinced more people than raw strength in action. Satan can easily counterfeit demonstrations of power, but seldom does it make sense for him to impress with meekness. Meekness comes from Christ and most beautifully reflects an aspect of His character seldom seen anywhere else.
C. IT IS FOR JESUS 1 Pet. 3:3-4 Let not your adornment be merely external…but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle (meek) and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
We should treasure meekness because it is a quality reproduced by Him in our lives for His own pleasure and delight. While others seek to impress with greatness, God calls on us to adorn our lives with something that is precious in His sight—“the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.”
Displays of greatness and demonstrations of power may impress human beings, but God is looking for something far different, an adornment that stands out in His eyes as especially precious…the meekness of Christ! We may be tempted to show off our greatness for others, to revel in our ability in our own eyes, but God is looking at the heart and wants to see something there that is exclusively for Him—something precious and treasured by Him…a gentle and quiet spirit! If you desire more power and strength, more demonstrations of an outward nature, that is an indication of what you value. God wants you to treasure and value meekness so that you will desire in yourself what He desires for you.
II. WE MUST MASTER MEEKNESS
Matthew Henry offers instruction on this point when he writes…
”We must seek meekness…put on meekness…follow after meekness…show all meekness unto all men…We must study to be quiet…To study the art of quietness is to take pains with ourselves, to work upon our own hearts the principles, rules and laws of meekness…(and) labor to be actuated by an even spirit under all the unevenesses of Providence.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible)
--Therefore, to master God’s calling to meekness, we must…
A. SEEK IT Zeph. 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.
If you do not have it and want it, you must seek it and do what He commands so that you might find what is missing in your life.
Prov. 2:2-5 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
If we believe that hidden treasure awaits us, is there any doubt that we would seek it, look for it diligently, go after it with everything we’ve got?
B. PUT IT ON Col. 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Once we find it, we do not put it on a shelf somewhere to be preserved in the inventory of untouched reserves, saving it for a rainy day when we really need it.
Even though it is to be clothed in our best garments, we are still told to put them on and wear them all the time! We should never be out of uniform once we have been identified as those who belong to Christ.
Therefore, moment by moment, we are to make sure that meekness adorns us as is fitting for those who walk with Christ for His glory in a world looking for something or someone authentic.
Meekness cannot be just an ideology, but must be a practical reality in the way we are and the way we act.
C. SHOW IT Titus 3:2 to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration (all meekness) for all men.
Once we have clothed ourselves in meekness, we are to take every opportunity to show all meekness to all men everywhere in every consideration. Meekness must be shown to those we consider our superiors…shown to those we consider under us…those we see as peers…in fact, to all! The only way to show it is to put it into practice by taking the low place, choosing the less obvious place of service, assuming the role of meekness instead of playing the part of the arrogant and demanding.
Ironically, when we are most meek, we are probably least aware of it, least concerned with trying to show it, but simply functioning in a way that has become normal for us as followers of Christ.
D. PURSUE IT 1 Tim. 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Seeking meekness until we find it matches God’s design for us, but then He raises the bar and exhorts us to pursue it as if we feared that it might get away from us once we have located it.
We seek it until we know where it is, and then we pursue it wherever it takes us, following hard after Christ in hot pursuit of all that He holds out for us to claim in His name.
Seeking and pursuing are much alike but when we pursue meekness, there seems to be a greater intensity, a higher expenditure of effort and energy—especially in this context when we are told to flee from ungodly things and run after what a man or woman of God should pursue in Christ.
E. BE AMBITIOUS FOR IT 1 Th. 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you;
As we discovered in the studies on contentment, ambition can be directed toward something good.
Here Paul instructs believers to develop an ambition for a quiet life, a meekness that satisfies and brings contentment and peace without having to create a fuss or make a big deal about everything.
God is looking for folks who can take the low place and lead quiet lives with holy dignity and thus bear a unique testimony to meekness in action speak of God’s power under control. When did you last include in your list of life’s ambitions to become meek like Christ?