Sermon On The Mount Devotional Blog 6

Sermon On The Mount Devotional

Meekness is Not Weakness

Read Matthew 5:1-12 (focusing on vs. 5) (ESV)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

The town was still and a lonely wind whistled down the street, stirring a cloud of dust and tumbleweed. The saloon door swung open and a solitary figure ambled to the end of the street. On the opposite side of town his nemesis waited. Both stared eagle-eyed at the other with malice and intent. Each seemed to draw his revolver at the exact moment as the other, firing out their rage. One fell and one walked away triumphant, having taken his revenge for being cheated at cards.

We love the old spaghetti Western, showcasing the rugged individual in a town long ago. We love the conquering hero, do we not? We celebrate the man or woman who rises up to overcome the oppressor or one who throws off affliction. While we hate world conquerors for the way they treat the weak and the poor and the helpless, deep down we long for this kind of self-dependence and sufficiency. We long for the power to free ourselves from ever being humbled in the eyes of others. We love the man who does not take the slight but stands for himself; whether it is the duel at high-noon or the revenge in the gladiatorial pit, we love the strong. We hate the weak and lowly and strive to never be put in that position. For us it may not come in the form of a dual or contest of swords but it comes in the form of never letting that one person get the best of us verbally, of always having to get the last word or defending ourselves. It may take the form of seeking to be financially well off enough that we never need to ask for help or for aide.

Because of our American sense of independence and self-assuredness, we come to this passage, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and our hearts cry out. We have gotten the message that “meekness” equals “weakness”.  But what does it mean to be meek?

To help us understand what this means, let us consider two things first. The context of who the Gospel writer, Matthew, is writing to is primarily to the Jews. He places the Beatitudes at the forefront of the Gospel for that reason. Jews had a concept of the coming Kingdom as materialistic (earthly) and militaristic (deliverance from earthly oppressors). Physical weakness was abhorrent to them because of their situation of being a conquered people. They longed for freedom from oppression. As Matthew recalls the word of Jesus, he writes to a people who needed to be reminded that Christ’s Kingdom was a spiritual one, not an earthly one.   

Remember also for context the progression of the Beatitudes. Jesus started by telling us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit (the beggarly poor), those totally reliant on the Lord to save and change them. This leads to, “Blessed are those who mourn, those who mourn over their sin. Leading to, “Blessed are the meek”. We are meant to feel the progressive difficulty of each of these! We are brought to the realization of our need for the Lord to work in and through us. We can do none of this in and of ourselves. We need the Spirit to work in us.

So, what is meekness? Let’s start with what it is not. It does not mean physical weakness or spiritless-ness or indolence or cowardice. Meekness is often associated with physically strong men. This is a trait of the soul.  Meekness is a willingness to set aside our rights and power, that others might know Christ, all for the glory of God. Meekness begins with a right view of oneself, that we are poor in spirit and that we mourn over our sin. It is the absence of pride. It is an attitude that sets aside personal rights, deliberately setting aside these rights, our heritage, privileges, power and abilities that others might know Christ. A meek person is not always on the defensive about himself, having a loss of self-emphasis and focus. A meek person doesn’t verbally protect himself or is not filled with self-pity. The meek have come to realize that no one can harm them. They are in Christ and are therefore protected and uplifted in Him. We realize that apart from Christ, we deserve worse but in Christ we are given the best. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this, “The man who is truly meek is the one who is amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do. That, it seems to me, is its essential quality.” (Sermon on the Mount Comm. by DM Lloyd-Jones, pg. 69)

Scripture is filled with examples of meek men.  There is Gideon who had his army reduced in size, showing that the victory doesn’t go to the mighty but to the one that trusts the Lord. We see Abraham in his dealing with Lot, willingly letting his brother choose the better portion and Moses, who is described as the meekest man on the face of the earth. In David we see his reaction to King Saul. David knew he was to be king and yet willingly suffered under Saul’s unjust and unkind treatment of him. Remember David in the cave when Saul came to relieve himself. David cut the edge of the king’s robe, not killing him as he could. Restrained power. But it is in Christ that we see the ultimate example of meekness.  “He said, ‘Come to me all you that labor… and I will give you rest… I am meek and lowly in heart.” In Jesus we see a willing acceptance of His treatment at the hands of enemies and the will of His Father. In Philippians chapter two we read of Christ willingly leaving heaven and not grasping its glory but setting it aside, becoming a man and a servant.

We are given examples of meekness in others in the Bible but it is through the meek life of Christ that we see not only the supreme example of meekness, but, because of His willing obedience and death on the Cross, His followers are given the ability, through the Holy Spirit, to live this way too.

So, we are called to be meek, to be like Christ, willingly setting aside our rights and our own glory and foregoing the respect and applause of men. We are told that the meek will inherit the earth. Is this just flowery and metaphorical language? No, this is the promise both on earth in the here and now and in the world to come. The meek man is the contented man, in Christ. Paul, writing in Philippians, says, “I know both how to have nothing and I know how to abound,” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We inherit the world now in that we have all we need in Christ and no one can take this away from us! In the world to come we also will have all things. We will inherit the earth in that we will co-rule with Christ, judging over it.

So, What now?

Are you meek? Are you contented in the Lord, not needing to readily defend yourself, always having to have the last word? Might you willingly suffer wrong at the hands of another, that they might see your humble response and be drawn to ask, “What is different about her?” “How can he respond this way?” Only in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, can we.