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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blessed Are the Meek

Jesus said, "the meek shall inherit the earth."  I have always puzzled over that phrase.  I mean, I get the inheritance thing.  I've never inherited anything (my parents died poor).  But I always thought it would be nice to inherit something.  I'm just not sure what it would mean for someone to inherit the earth.  How exactly does one do that?  What exactly does one get when one inherits the earth?  But I digress.  The bigger question revolves around this notion of meekness.

So, according to Jesus, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."  (Matthew 5:5)  Who exactly are these people?  I mean where did they come from?  How did they acquire their meeknesss?  If I look around the Bible, I see quite an emphasis on meekness.  I mean, Jesus wasn't the first to coin this term.  If I go back to the Old Testament, for example, there are at least a couple of passages about the meek

"Seek ye the Lord all ye meek of the earth ... seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger."  (Zephaniah 2:3) (KJV)  So the meek are to seek meekness?  Really?  How exactly do they do that?  Do they know they're supposed to do that?  And this particular passage of Scripture seems to reflect the privilege of the meek.  I mean it says they'll be hid from God's wrath when He judges the world.  So that would be good, of course.  I'd like to be hidden from the wrath of God when He judges the world for its sins.

The psalmist inferred an even deeper level of privilege for the meek.  Or maybe it was responsibility he was writing about.  "The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way."  (Psalm 25:9) (KJV)  So God will guide those of us who are meek, and he will teach us his way.  We just have to join the meek.  So again I'm asking, "Who are these people?"  And maybe more importantly, the question is how I can join them.  How can I be counted among the meek, at least from the Lord's perspective?  Will He judge me as meek?

1 Peter 3:4 gives us an even broader perspective on the subject of meekness.  It says that meekness is an "ornament" and that it goes with a quiet spirit.  And it tells us God thinks these things are very valuable. 

The Bible talks about meekness as if we all know what it is, how it occurs and how we can pursue it and make it our own.  If you ask me, that's being a little presumptuous.  I mean, are humans that smart?

Another psalmist says that God "will beautify the meek with salvation."  (Psalm 149:4) (KJV)  But more modern translations seem to choose other words.  I mean they don't use the word meek.  Rather they use words like "humble" as if they are interchangeable with "meek."  But I'm not sure they are. 

The dictionary seems to have two different ways of thinking about "meek."  One definition seems positive.  It says the meek are "humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others."  It further says that the meek are "patient and long-suffering."  Those seem like pretty strong virtues to me.  I wouldn't mind being considered meek in that context.  But the dictionary also provides another context, which is much less appealing.  It says the meek are "overly submissive and compliant, spineless and tame."  I don't know about you, but I doubt that's the Biblical meaning of meek.

One thing that I've learned to do over the years is to look at Jesus.  I find that He's been the perfect role model for lots of things that I'm trying to figure out.  People put those bumper stickers on their car that say "WWJD?"  They're asking, "What Would Jesus Do?"  I don't think it's a good bumper sticker.  But I do think it's good advice for living.  We need to be looking to find out what Jesus would do.  If we'll stop and consider it, I find that Jesus models just about everything I need to know about successful living.

So in this context of humility or meekness, I look at Jesus and I don't see a spineless door mat.  In fact, I see a man who could get angry at injustice and ungodliness.  But I also see a man who was quick to forgive, slow to anger, and who experienced ... and expressed deep emotion.  When Jesus was falsely accused and tried, I see several behaviors that I find curious. 

Jesus did nothing to defend himself.  He wasn't defensive.  He made no statements on His own behalf.  He didn't try to justify His behavior.  He asked no questions of His accusers.  He answered their questions with as few words as possible.  And of course He didn't accuse others, but rather ask His Father to forgive them because they didn't know what they were doing (i.e., accusing Him unfairly).  Let's face it, those are odd behaviors.  But they are strong clues about this character trait of meekness.  I think they show us how to be meek.

That meekness is not weakness has been made very clear to us in the Bible.  Numbers 12:3, for example, describes Moses as a man who was "very meek."  But of course Moses was strong and courageous.  Moses was deeply humble and self-sacrificing, a man of prayer who absolutely trusted God beyond measure.  Jesus was no wimp either.  He defined meekness in terms of His own character.  "...learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:"  (Matthew 11:29) (KJV)

A meek spirit enables a Christ-follower to maintain composure in the face of opposition.  It helps us to accept adversity without resorting to our sense of entitlement.  It produces a peace that "transcends understanding" (Philippians 4:7) (NIV).  So it seems that this meekness which the Lord speaks of, it is the "secret sauce" for all true Christ-followers.  Frankly, I think it is a gift from God.  He instills it in each of us as we seek Him and His ways.  Said differently, the Lord will work in us, as we seek Him, to change our perspective about everything.  Troubling things won't be as troubling.  Challenges won't be as intimidating.  Adversity won't steal our peace.  And of course pride will not be welcome in the hearts of those who are meek.

So, as Jesus said, "the meek shall inherit the earth."  Now, who are these people?  They are you and me, my friend.  They are you and me.  May you find an extra measure of meekness in your soul today.  And may you grasp it like a precious gem, committing to never let go of even the tiniest morsel of meekness that you can find.  For therein lies our treasure ... and acquiring it makes us His treasure!

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