Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Leave a comment

5 Beatitude Blessing – Part 5

Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”

After looking at the model of meekness now we need to ask ourselves how do we cultivate meekness in our lives? Several years ago there was a popular reality TV show called “extreme makeover.” Each episode featured two candidates whose looks were changed in an effort to transform their lives and make their dreams come true. This was accomplished through the skills of doctors, a plastic surgeon, an eye surgeon and a cosmetic dentist, along with a talented team of hair and make-up artists, stylists and personal trainers, known as the “Extreme Team.” At the end of each episode, the participants return to their friends and families to reveal their total transformation. While the show focused on an external transformation Jesus focuses on an internal one, God wants to give each of us a meekness makeover. So how do we become meeker? First we need to be a:

  • Student of the Savior

In order for us to grow in meekness we need to do life with the Master. If we want to grow in meekness we need to start studying under the Savior. In Matthew 11:28 we see Jesus who not only modeled meekness, but invites us to come and learn from Him and lean on Him: “28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” We will never have a meekness makeover unless we submit to being students that study under the Savior. Christ calls us to come and rest in Him, to roll our burdens on Him. He calls us to trade our yoke of trying for that of trusting. Until we yield to Him and take His yoke we will never model meekness. It was only when the ox accepted the yoke that it modeled meekness. The yoke didn’t take the animals power away it just channeled it, making it power that was productive because it was under the control of another. We need to accept the truth that apart from Him our power will always be a problem, instead of being productive it will poison. We need to stop wrestling with God and start resting. This is not just about coming to Christ with our concerns but being connected to Him. This is more than just taking our trash to Him, this is trusting Him and teaming with Him. This is a call to work together and walk through the trials of life as one. Jesus is saying, “As you yield to my yoke, you will learn from me, discovering not only that I am meek, but gradually become more gentle yourself. Are you walking side-by-side with the Savior? Have you surrendered and said yes to being His student? Are you showing up to Christ’s class to study or are you skipping to serve self and sleeping in? A.W. Tozer once said, “Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is his method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. The rest Christ offers is the rest of meekness, the blessed relief that comes when we accept ourselves for what we are and cease to pretend” Not only must we study under the Savior but we must also:

  • Walk out the Word

We are not just students learning principles we have to put them into practice. We have to walk out what we know. If you want to be meek, then we must cultivate a submission to Christ and His Word. The Bible is the bit and bridle that controls our wayward wills. James 1:21 tells us not only to receive the Word but to respond to it: “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” The word accepts here means more than just agreeing it means welcoming with humility. When it comes to the Word many of us receive it as fact, yet we don’t allow it to filter our hearts, letting it remain head knowledge. How about you are you welcoming the Word, regardless of what it says? Or are you basing things on your wants? If we want to grow in meekness we must submit to Scripture. Along with being students of the Savior and walking in His Word we must also:

  • Submit to the Spirit

Galatians 5:21-22 mentions meekness as a fruit of the Spirit, fruit that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Now we need to remember that fruit is not something we do, it’s what we display. Our responsibility according to Galatians 5:25: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” is not to work harder, but to worship, not to try more, but to trust more. Meekness is the result of surrendering to the Spirit, and manifests itself in a gentle spirit based on an unshakeable confidence in God. Meekness is not merely the absence of pride it’s the presence of God, where pride cannot hide. Developing meekness also entails:

  • Practice patience with people

In his book, “Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them.” John Ortberg makes the point that we’re all weird and pretend to be healthier and holier than we really are. He says that we’re a lot like the porcupine, with over 30,000 quills attached to our bodies. Each quill can be driven deeply into an enemy. As a general rule, porcupines have two methods for handling relationships: withdrawal and attack. They either head for the hills or lock and load. Ortberg says that each of us carry our own little arsenal of quills. Our barbs have names like rejection, condemnation, judgment, resentment, arrogance, selfishness, envy and contempt. A meek person will not only avoid flinging quills at others, when barbs come his way, but he will absorb them without lashing back. While it might be easier to get closer to those who have no quills, the truth is we all have them. We all have the capacity to attack others, but a meek person seeks to give grace not hold grudges. Are you willing to be patient with imperfect people? Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” No one is perfect, except God. Your spouse will let you down, your friends will disappoint, even your family will fail you and that includes your church family, even your pastor will fail to meet all your expectations. There will come a time where you will be right and others will be wrong, when you have been clearly hurt, and this is when you come to the crossroads of meekness. Which path will you take? That of pain and punishment, where we let others have it, as we lash out and launch our quills of condemnation? Or will we take the greater path, that of grace and gentleness? Are you going to grant grace or try to get even? Abraham chose to model meekness when he could have made it about himself. He gave his nephew Lot the first choice of the land, even though he had received the promise of blessing, was the leader of the expedition and the oldest. Why did he do this because he didn’t want the quills to fly. Genesis 13:8 says: “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.” Abraham trusted God and as a result he put the interests of Lot ahead of his own. You have a choice, you can live your life constantly disappointed in people and all of their problems, where you end up angry with everyone around you or armed with the advantage of meekness? It’s not by accident that meekness follows being poor in spirit and being blessed when we mourn. For it is here that we finally realize that we have nothing with which to fight. In and of ourselves we are bankrupt but in Him we are blessed. This Beatitude contains a shocking promise, that the meek will “inherit the earth.” Those that harnessing God’s power for holy purposes will receive the reward. Meek may seem weak now, but remember it will be the meek who come marching in to possess the promise not the proud and the powerful. What about you are you ready for a meekness makeover? Are you ready to study with the Savior? Are you willing to walk out the Word? Are you serious about submitting to the Spirit? Are you ready to practice patience with people?


4 Beatitude Blessing – Part 4

Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”

After calling us to mourn, Jesus now calls us to meekness, but what is meekness? Meekness is often a misunderstood word in our world, may mistake meekness for weakness. In fact if you were to complement someone on being meek they would probably not receive it as a compliment. If you look up meekness in a thesaurus you will find a list of synonyms that aren’t very flattering. Words like mild, docile, timid, tame, passive and even soft and spineless. It’s no wonder people don’t want to be called meek, especially men, because many of us don’t see meek as masculine.  Yet Jesus describes meekness as the definition of a disciple, so what did He mean when He called us to model meekness? The word “meek” was used in many different contexts, and when taken together they paint a portrait of what meekness really means, and how we as Disciples of Christ can model meekness. Greek culture considered meekness a virtue not a vice, one that was the balanced between too much or too little anger. The meek man was neither timid nor given to tirades. Greek physicians used the word “meek” in describe a healing medicine. Too much medicine and it could harm instead of heal, too little and it would be ineffective, yet the right amount works wonders. “Meek” was also used in describing the weather, specifically a gentle breeze that blew in from the ocean. Unlike wild winds which rage and destroy, a gentle wind brought comfort and relief. It was also a word which was commonly used to describe a wild stallion which had been broken. Even though it was now tame it still had tremendous power, yet it was now power that was now under control. Meek does not mean weak; in fact these word pictures paint a portrait of power not a puny one. They remind us that without meekness power becomes destructive instead of constructive. The meek man is the one who is in control, whose strength of spirit, passions, and power have been harnessed. Yet even with this clear picture of meekness, the people that Jesus was preaching to would probably still have been a bit puzzled. For the message that Jesus preached prior in Matthew 4:17 was: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” Many in the crowd would have interpreted this message not as a warning but as one of war that they needed to get ready to rumble with the Romans. They would have been confused when he then called them to display meekness, power under control. Today we struggle with the same issues; we also tend to swing the pendulum between wimp and full out war. But Christ is not calling us to conquer people but sinful passions.  So what does meekness look like in the life of a man? To answer this I want us to look at both a New Testament example as well as and Old Testament one. Starting with the New and then working back in the Bible let’s look at the life of the Lord, specifically the end of His life. As Jesus comes to the cross there are two words that describe His life, compassion and control. Despite the critics Jesus never lost His cool, despite the beatings He didn’t blow up, despite the lies He didn’t lash out. Even when Judas betrayed him with a kiss, and Peter lost control and loped the ear of the soldier, Jesus remained calm and in control. In the midst of the conflict Jesus demonstrated care and compassion. He used His power to heal and not to hurt as he miraculously reattached the man’s ear. Jesus didn’t just preach about power under control He practiced it. After telling them to put their swords away He said in Matthew 26:53: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” A Roman legion could contain as many as 6,000, so Jesus was talking about an angelic army of 72,000. All He had to do was say the word and the soldiers would be smoked, in fact all of Rome would have been left in ruin, yet He refrained. Despite the betrayal and arrest Jesus remained calm and collected, even during His trial with Pilate, He displayed power under control by keeping silent. It was Jesus demeanor that disarmed Pilate, when in John 19:9-10, because of His silence Pilate asked “Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’” Jesus finally replied in verse 11: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Jesus was calm because He knew that God was in control, meekness is tied to our trust of the master. Jesus chose to be quiet when He could have complained; He exhibited control when He could have extinguished the evildoers. Jesus modeled meekness and now calls us to follow Him. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus calls us to come to Him and rest, for our Master is meek: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.  29 Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.[c]  30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Our second meek man is found in the Old Testament. Numbers 12:3 identifies Moses as being “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” When I think of Moses I don’t automatically put him in the “meek man” category. I picture him as the loose cannon, the one that lost it and killed the Egyptian task master in a fit of rage. The one who stood up to Pharaoh, leading the Israelites through the Red Sea, the one who climbed Mount Sinai to meet with God. Yet when we look closer we see a man of calm and control. In Numbers 12:1 we learn that Moses had married a Cushite woman which Aaron and Miriam openly criticized him for. In verse 2, we find Aaron and Miriam challenging Moses’ leadership and calling into question his qualifications by saying, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t He also spoken through us?” Now the end of verse 2 tells us a critical piece of information: “And the Lord heard this.” As a result all three were called to come and meet with God, verse 4 says: “At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, ‘Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you.’” It is here that God vindicated Moses but turned Miriam white with leprosy. While this is happening Moses is doing nothing, he is not defending or shouting, the scriptures just simply says that he was meek. It’s not until verse 13 that we here his first recorded words on the subject, which is a cry of compassion. Moses first words are to petition God to heal Miriam. Moses didn’t fight back, he didn’t seek revenge, he didn’t argue, but kept silent and let the Lord take up his cause. When he did finally speak up it was to intercede for the one who had challenged and chastised him. A meek man refrains from revenge. The meek man can absorb adversity and keep cool under criticism without resorting to retaliation. A meek man is not a weak man; on the contrary, he is a mighty man, one in control because his confidence is in Christ. What about you how well are you modeling meekness?