In this series we’ve been talking about what it means to BE people of the Kingdom of God and how accessible it is in the “here and now.” We’re looking at the Beatitudes, in the Sermon on the Mount, and what Jesus is saying about those who are qualified and those who are not qualified for BEING in his kingdom.
And everything Jesus is saying is counterintuitive to what those hearing it for the first time have been told the Kingdom of God would be like. Remember, they’re hearing this for the first time and they don’t have the backstory that we do!
And Jesus begins by talking about “BEING poor” and “BEING those who mourn” and we tend to avoid these things, not run towards them. But Jesus is talking about the reality of life and how he wants to meet us in our present moment.
So, he introduces the third Beatitude: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5 NIV).
And of all the Beatitudes that Jesus references, this is the one we may have the hardest time believing or buying into! Because being meek or meekness is not common to us, it’s not a part of our regular vocabulary or life experience. And that’s why it’s all the more important that we understand it; especially if we’re going to BE people of the kingdom of God and see his kingdom come and will be done in the present moments of our lives…
MEEK DOES NOT MEAN WEAK!
“Meek” makes you think of weak! We’re tempted to think that this Beatitude is all about making the “weak” feel better about themselves and that the weak and frail and not so strong will one day be compensated. And if we’re really honest, this idea of meekness as weakness is not that appealing!!
Illustration: In the horse world (my brother has quarter horses) “meek” for a horse means that all that wildness and strength and power of that horse has been harnessed. To call a horse meek means they have “power under control!”
Meekness is “controlled strength!” Jesus is not calling us to weakness but to meekness- power under control! Yes, sometimes we do experience weakness in our lives… but don’t confuse meekness with this!
THE “STRONG” GET THE EARTH NOT THE MEEK! RIGHT?
That’s what we believe; that’s what the culture tells us; but that’s NOT at all what Jesus is saying! Jesus says, “the meek will inherit the earth” and it flies in the face of whom we believe gets to control everything- the powerful, the strong, the wealthy! Sadly, history proves this, not just in the secular realm, but in the Church also! Meekness, as we interpret it, isn’t attractive and it’s not how you get to be in control or in charge. NO, you have to be powerful and use that power.
Sure, maybe one day the “meek will inherit the earth”- after we die, in the experience yet to come, but not in the here and now! “Meek inherit the earth??” Come on! So, we try to leverage power, and yes, even in the church, because what we really believe is “Blessed are the powerful, the privileged, those who control everything!”
BUT, if Jesus is right, and we know he is, then not only is meekness the path to BE in the Kingdom, it is also his strategic process for how to “inherit” or be entrusted with the “earth.” And this next point will make this clear…
MEEKNESS IS POWER UNDER CONTROL!
Illustration: Car going through a red light at intersection few weeks ago as I was going home. How many of you stopped at a red light this week? Ever stop at a red light and there’s NO cars there except you? Ever think, “Why am I sitting here?” And the light just stays red and you think it’s broken, and then some car pulls up, slows a little, then just goes through the red light. And when they went through it so did you? Anyone? Or, you wanted to? Every time you stop at a red light you demonstrate an act of meekness! You could go through it but you don’t. Why? You understand there could be grave repercussions if you do; a ticket, others could follow you and an accident occur, or someone could be killed! So, you take the invitation of the red light to stop and allow others to go through- our entire traffic systems is based on one amazing human virtue- MEEKNESS!
“Meekness”- to put your desires or needs beneath the good of others- to wait your turn! It is not a sign of weakness- you could go through the red light, but you have the power of your free will, choice, under control, yielding to the rights of others!
Sadly, meekness has not been the Church’s best characteristic in the last 30 years! It’s just not been our posture. But what would it take for us to exhibit this Beatitude- to BE it in our world??
TO HAVE MEEKNESS YOU HAVE TO HAVE STRENGTH TO RESTRAIN!
And the “STRENGTH” I’m referring to is NOT the strength of our gifts or talents or skills or even the “anointing” we so often refer to in the church world: “Wow, that guys is anointed…” but sometime it looks a lot like he’s just out of control and the service is out of control, and the church is out of control etc. (Note 1 Cor.)!
No, what I’m referring to is actually “having the strength to be restrained!” To have the strength of character and maturity that is able to harness the power you have in your life! Namely, the CHARACTER OF CHRIST!
I’ll speak more on that in a moment, but let’s consider some Bible people who DIDN’T exhibit restrained strength; did NOT exhibit MEEKNESS!
Elisha (intern of Elijah, wanted a “double portion” of Elijah’s power and got it, and now he’s the man…). (2 Kings 2:23-25) 23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
A youth group on a camping trip or something calls him “old baldy” and he calls down 2 bears to maul 42 of them to death! (Don’t entrust power to a bald guy)! Listen, sometimes the Bible tells us “exactly” what happened, not what “should have happened!” To me, this is not Elisha’s best moment! Here’s a guy who has all this power, but he does not have the meekness to control it!
You can talk about having all this power from God and how it would solve everything, but if you don’t have the CHARACTER OF GOD TO CONTROL IT you’re going to really mess up your life and the lives of a lot of other people (haven’t we seen just this in the church world in the last 30 years??)
Geez! Elisha is called a “name” and he freaks out!! He commits a brutal act of violence- ever see a bear maul something?? 2 bears maul 42 youth and Elisha does nothing to stop it; he just goes on his way…
Samson (brawn but not too bright!). (Judges 15:1-5) Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in. 2 “I was so sure you thoroughly hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your friend. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.” 3 Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” 4 So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, 5 lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olives.
“Hey,” Samson says, “I’ve got a right to be mad!” Don’t we play the “high virtue” card?? Look what he does, get’s 300 foxes (what?) ties their tails together, lights them on fire, and burns up acres of ready to be harvested fields!! All because he could!
Like Elisha, Samson chose to use his power to overpower rather than empower! Over and over in Samson’s life this was his undoing! He did not know how to live with controlled strength. He did not demonstrate meekness!
A POSTURE OF STRENGTH NOT WEAKNESS!
Jesus is teaching us that “meekness” is all about your posture! The etymology of the word “meek” has to do with liquid or fluidity or adaptable. You can crush an egg, but it’s really difficult to crush the yoke- it spreads out and adapts.
Regrettably, so many of you in life, because of what culture demands and teaches you, become so inadaptable, or unchangeable, there’s no fluidity and you’re so rigid in your posture and you want to control everything and everyone… But meekness actually postures you to be adaptable, changeable, which is exactly what Jesus and his Kingdom wants to do in your life- change you!
Wouldn’t it be cool to do a social experiment to see if the meek really do inherit the earth? What do you have to have to inherit something? RELATIONSHIP!
When Jesus says, “the meek will inherit the earth” he’s saying that these are the people who will receive from my Father the natural inheritance that goes to his children! And in the context of our relationship with him, whatever God is trying to give us in this world, even this present moment, will only come through a posture of meekness!
Ever get an inheritance? There’s DNA- got some stuff from your parents that you didn’t really want! Yet, Jesus is telling us there’s an inheritance for the meek… They will inherit the “earth” in the sense that these are the people God wants to entrust humanity with; his creation with- even here and now!
So, if you want to know who God trusts people with- to lead them, influence them, bless them, he’s looking for those with “controlled power” who exhibit a “posture of strength!”
And maybe it goes beyond that! That God actually wants to entrust the resources of this earth to the meek. That maybe if those who controlled the oil, or the seas, or the natural resources, were “meek” the world would be a better place- there’d be enough for everyone, every nation would be blessed!
And maybe if those who controlled Wall Street or the Banking systems or the government exhibited controlled strength and power we’d be in a better economic situation!
What would the Church look like if the meek were entrusted with it? Or what would the human condition BE like if the meek were entrusted with it?? It would BE a picture of the Kingdom here and now! Is it possible, that if we chose meekness every day, not weakness, but controlled strength, that we would BE part of making this earth more like God knows it could BE??
Close… The greatest act of meekness ever is recorded in (Matt. 26:47-56) 47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” 55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Think about this… Judas betrays Jesus with a false kiss of friendship. Peter, a fisherman (what’s he doing with a sword?) whacks off a man’s ear. All the disciples run! And Jesus responds, “What do you think I could do if I wanted to?”
In absolute meekness and controlled strength, Jesus doesn’t call 12,000 angels, he isn’t leading a rebellion, he does heal the man’s ear! Power and strength yielded and submitted to the will of the Father! It took strength under control to stand a face his accusers rather than, like the disciples, to run away!
In 2 Cor. 10 Paul implores us to take on the “meekness and gentleness” of Christ, yet know too, that we have “divine power to demolish strongholds!”
So, we should grow in our strength and power; become a powerful person, BUT IN CHRIST, one who uses this strength and power to empower not overpower!
Let’s BE a demonstration of meekness and see if God will fulfill his promise- “the meek will inherit the earth!”
Stand if you want to BE a demonstration of meekness and experience God’s inheritance. Pray “God you do not call us to passivity or weakness, but to a posture of meekness and power that is controlled and restrained as we yield to your Spirit. Let each of us and GCC raise up in this meekness…”