Blessedness of the Meek
BY RONALD VAN OVERLOOP
Matthew 5:5; Psalm 37
JESUS SAYS, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). While all the beatitudes seem paradoxical, perhaps this one tops them all. The meek inherit the earth?
In today's society, it's the mighty that inherit the earth, right? The rich and the mighty get richer and mightier. They have land and they have money, and with that, they get more land.
Meanwhile, the meek get trampled on, run over, pushed back, and neglected.
How then can Christ say that Blessed are the meek? Well, you see, He is speaking about the kingdom of God. And in that kingdom, which is a sharp contrast to this earth, this statement is true.
In fact, only the meek shall inherit the earth. As in the case with all the other beatitudes, Jesus is speaking here in an exclusive sense. When He says, "Blessed are the meek," by implication, He is saying the mighty and the proud are cursed.
The question we must ask ourselves therefore is: Am I among the meek?
Definition of meeknessWhat does it mean to be meek? Well, meekness is the opposite of two things: It is the opposite of pride or haughtiness; and it is the opposite of stubbornness or bullheadedness. We can therefore say: to be meek is to be humble and submissive.
Spiritually, meekness is the power to endure insult, injury and offense without any desire to retali
ate and without any bitterness.
Now, Jesus is not telling us that to be blessed, we must be meek or that we must become meek. He is not talking about something that is a part of our inborn personality. He is not referring to something that is present in the constitution of certain people, and lacking in others.
He's speaking about a class of people who not only are meek, but, in conjunction with the preceding two beatitudes, who are poor in spirit and who mourn as well. These people recognize their total lack in righteousness in themselves, and they mourn over their failure to do that which is right and pleasing to God. Only such people can be meek.
We can thus see that the meekness of which Jesus speaks is a virtue of grace that indwells one spiritually.
Childlikeness. Meekness is, first of all, a relationship to God. To be meek towards God is to be teachable. It means that we are ready to receive His Word, to listen to and believe what He has to say.
James 1:21 says: "Lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word (that is, the word that is implanted in you), which is able to save your souls."
We are to receive the Word of God with meekness. We are to be ready to say, "I will receive what God declares without reservation. I'll make it my lamp and my light. Whether I understand it all or not is not the question. I believe that everything God says is true."
Psalm 25:9 is also instructive in this regard. "The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way."
A person who comes to the Word with a spirit of meekness is pliable. He is ready to be molded by the Holy Spirit. A teachable spirit is a meek spirit. It agrees with Romans 3:4: "Let God be true, and every man a liar."
Credible witness. Meekness is next a relationship to men. It should be a part of the Christian witness. We read in the first two verses of Ephesians 4:I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.It doesn't make any difference what kind of personality you have for you to be worthy of the calling to which God has called you, you are to walk with all lowliness and meekness.
A parallel passage appears in Colossians 3:12,13:Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.When, in obedience to the Word of God, we are willing to turn the other cheek and walk the extra mile, we are displaying Christ in us. When we are able to forgive those who harm us, instead of taking revenge ourselves, we are, as the children of God, making a credible witness for Christ.
Divine justice. But how can we do that? How can we suffer all kinds of insult and injury? We do so with the knowledge that the cause of God will stand, that the cause of God is right.
God says in Psalm 37:10,11: "For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth."
The entire Psalm 37, in fact, assures believers that those who trample on the righteous will ultimately be condemned. It says, for example:The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation (behavior). Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken (vv. 14,15).We can trust in the Lord to help us prevail against the wicked who hate us, who seem to prosper in their way. We trust that the Lord will defend our cause. When Judgment Day comes, God will set everything right.
A commentator put it this way: a lion in God's cause must be a lamb in his own.
Source of meeknessThe source of meekness, as I noted earlier, is God's grace. Praise God for that. Thank God that it is not something we have to find within ourselves. Otherwise, some of us will say, "Sorry, I'm just not naturally meek. I just don't have that in me."
Remember Galatians 5:23? It tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness Meekness is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. Hence, it is never found in the natural man.
True, there are people who have a personality that seems to be so meek. But that inborn meekness has nothing to do with trusting in God. Then, there are those who go around meekly kissing their boss's shoes in the hope of getting promoted. They're not meek; they are selfish.
The fact is, a person cannot be meek towards man if he is not meek towards God. And Romans 8:7 says, "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." The natural man is enmity against God; he hates God and His law. No man who hates God and His law can be meek towards their fellow man.
Genuine meekness is a fruit of the Spirit and an operation of the grace of God. Because of that, even the most stubborn, the most vehement, the most proud and haughty among us can be saved and become spiritually meek. Otherwise, such people would have no hope of salvation.
Example of meeknessTo understand spiritual meekness, maybe it's best to go to the Bible and look at examples. We read in Numbers 12:3, "The man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."
Was Moses naturally meek? No, he went after that task master and killed him! Was he naturally meek? He confronted Pharaoh with great courage. He stood before that rebellious crowd and told them, "You're all stiff-necked people." And contrary to God's command, he hit the rock twice, instead of speaking to it. No, he wasn't naturally meek.
But God knows how much provocation Moses had taken from that factious and fickle multitude that he led. Yet, instead of lording over the Israelites, he prayed for them.
Moses committed his cause to God. So, God commended Moses, calling him the meekest man that has ever lived.
Perfect meekness. But meekness in perfection was not found in Moses. It is found only in the Lord Jesus. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," He says in Matthew 11. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
Christ was meek. He was not too proud to eat with publicans and sinners. Of Him, I Peter 2:23 says, "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."
Notice that the Lord was not afraid to drive out the merchants and the money changers from the temple. He stood firmly on the written word when Satan tempted Him. He was meek in the sense that He obeyed the will of His Lord.
Result of meeknessHow do the meek inherit the earth? I believe they do so in three ways:
(1) Historically, the Old Testament children of Israel were given the land of Canaan, where they would
Putting our trust in God, we want to live as people who see no need to have their ego asserted and com
have peace from all their enemies. And spiritual peace is what the meek inherit now. This is what the second half of Psalm 37:11 says. The whole verse reads, "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
What kind of peace do you get? It's the peace of knowing, when you turn the cheek and revile not again, that God will ultimately render judgment. It's the peace of knowing that no matter how much you suffer, God will never leave nor forsake you.
Verse 16 of the same Psalm says: "A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked." We may not have a whole lot, we may not have much. But if we have it in righteousness, it's better by far than all the riches of the wicked, because we have peace with it.
(2) By right, we who are members of Christ already have the earth. We read in I Corinthians 3:21-23, "All things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."
All things are yours, it says there. Likewise, speaking about the conduct that we should have by the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul writes in II Corinthians 6:7?10:By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left...As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.We possess all things. We do so now by right because we have it in Christ. That's why we know Romans 8:28 is true, that all things work together for good of those who love God. Because Christ is Lord of all and He's working all things for our good, we have in Him the rights to them all.
(3) We will inherit the new earth at the end of time. Inherit does not mean partial possession. Inherit means complete ownership, final ownership.
The present earth, being sin-cursed as it is, is working against us. But in the new heaven and new earth, everything will work for us. Now, through the power of Christ, that which seems bad for us is ultimately a blessing. But in that perfect earth that we will inherit, everything will be a positive blessing immediately.
Manifestation of meeknessGod says in Zephaniah 2:3: "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger."
Not only do we want to know that by the grace of God we are meek, but we want to practice that meekness. Putting our trust in God, we want to live as people who see no need to have their ego asserted and comforted and padded. We don't have to push ourselves forward. We don't have to set ourselves up in front of others. We seek meekness.
And we have all kinds of incentive to seek meekness. Besides inheriting the earth, listen to some of the other promises that God gives to the meek. In Psalm 22, God promises that the meek shall eat and be satisfied. In Psalm 147, He lifteth up the meek. In Isaiah 29, the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord.
May all this serve as a bridle to the inordinate, the more than necessary cares for the things of this earth. And help you realize that you have a portion that's infinitely better reserved for you in heaven and which is kept by the power of God. Blessed are the meeknot the mighty, but the meek. The lions for God's cause and the lambs for their own. o
Rev. Ronald Van Overloop is pastor of Bethel Protestant Reformed Church, 1047 Florida Lane, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007.
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