Strength Under Control: Blessed Are the Meek
The past few weeks, Jesus has been teaching us the characteristics of the kingdom of God ― wonderful, powerful instruction from the King of kings, not only about who he is, but about how we are to live. Kingdom living in a fallen world. It demonstrates the upside down nature of the kingdom of God. Today we are looking at Matthew 5:5: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
WHAT IS MEEKNESS?
The world doesn’t understand meekness. It views meekness as being a doormat; someone who lives to please others, is weak and indecisive. But what is biblical meekness? What is Jesus talking about here?
Journalist Matt Friedman interviewed a horse trainer about “meeking” a horse. The trainer said you have to do five things:
1. Break the horse so you can use the horse productively. Once it’s broken, it doesn’t require much correction, just a gentle tug on the reins. This doesn’t mean you remove its power or energy. No, you direct them to a productive purpose.
2. Develop a special rapport develops between the horse and master.
3. Develop a partnership between the horse and trainer, so the horse can do its job without the presence of the trainer.
4. Develop an elevated loyalty to the rider. A horse knows an inexperienced rider when there’s one on its back. Last time I went riding, the horse thought, "Here’s a fool." It took off running, and I hung on for dear life. Then it stopped next to a barn and pressed up against the barn so my leg was trapped till someone came along to free me.
5. Persevere in training over a long period.
A biblical definition of meekness is strength under control. Not cowardice, weakness or indecisiveness. In Matthew 5:5, Jesus is quoting Psalm 37:11, which summarizes 37:1-8. We are not to fret about those who do evil but to commit our way to the Lord. To trust in him, be still and patiently wait for him. To refrain from anger. For those who do this, who are meek, God will bring about justice, and they will inherit the land.
The meek person is strong. Like Jesus, he is gentle and mild, but he is keeping his strength under control. So we should recognize this in characters in the Bible.
Numbers 12:3 says Moses was “the meekest man on earth.” Although Moses wrote this verse about himself, he had the scars to prove it. During his first 40 years in the desert, he was isolated, probably at times despairing. His pride was broken, loyalty created, and he worked in partnership with God.
Likewise, Jesus called himself meek. Yet he was strong, telling a raging storm to calm itself and overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. But he was never self-serving. He never retaliated or was vindictive when attacked, mocked, spat upon, betrayed and crucified. But he was bold as a lion when confronting the Pharisees hardness of heart. He radiated strength.
Meek persons are gentle in spirit, with a calmness about their presence, strength under self-control. They stand fearlessly in defense of others and the truth.
How does one become meek? Isn’t it just a character trait? What nurture or nature made you to be? No. It’s one of the qualities the Spirit of God is working to develop in our lives. In Galatians 5:23 it’s named as one of the fruit of the Spirit: gentleness. Meekness is a work of grace in our lives.
By grace we recognize we are poor in spirit. By grace we realize we are sinful before a holy God, and there’s nothing we can do about it. By grace we mourn our sin and the sin of our nation. We trust in God’s grace to save and redeem us. We yoke ourselves to Jesus, the incarnation of strength under control, and he demonstrates and instills in us true meekness. We must be willing to undergo a lifetime of training so just a tug of the Holy Spirit is able to move us in the direction he prompts. I’m not like a horse. I’m more like a donkey, hard to move. I’m still being trained, still being meeked.
How do we become meek? We develop a relationship with the master so that the enemy cannot entice us to move in the wrong direction. As God works in us, we develop an unshakable commitment and loyalty to the master that is kingdom living. Before a watching world we allow ourselves to be meeked.
Psalm 37 paints a picture of meekness. Trusting in God and waiting on him takes the pressure off us, because we stop living a performance-based life. We stop having to please others because God is working in us. We receive guidance and direction. Although we will face trouble in a crass and self-focused world, we allow the Spirit of God to harness our energy.
Those who are genuinely meek will be genuinely content. They see why they have all they need. And a day is coming when Christ will return and a new heaven and new earth are created. That’s the earth we will inherit. We have so much to inherit, and we have so much now. God, help us understand what it means to be meek.
You can listen to the entire sermon here.