Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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22. Strength Under Control – Part 1

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

In Acts 17:6 in response to Paul and Silas’ preaching of the Gospel and the conversion of numbers of Jews and devout Greeks and many of the city’s leading ladies, the leading Jews gathered a crowd of rabble rousers to arrest and drag them from their host’s house before the city authorities. When they were unable to find Paul and Silas, who had been secretly hidden by their hosts and helped to escape, they dragged Jason, the host, and some of the new converts before the magistrates. And the charge that they brought against these new believers was this: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Wherever the church has truly been the church and believers have been faithful in their witness as followers of Jesus Christ, not allowing the world to squeeze them into its mold, the result has always been turning the world upside down. This is precisely the message Jesus preached to His disciples in the Beatitudes and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. For it is here that we discover a truth that flies in the face of our modern thinking, a wisdom that is so contrary to the mindset and ways of this world. In God’s Kingdom, those who want to go up need to go down, for the way of exaltation is the way of humility. The way to be first is to be last. True strength is found in weakness. True riches in poverty or bankruptcy, and true and lasting comfort in mourning. Jesus revealed in the first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” that the ground floor port of entry into the Christian life is when we acknowledge our utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. For whatever currency, and however much of it we may have acquired for ourselves in this world, it has no purchasing power in the Kingdom of God. So we must come to God acknowledging our poverty. The next step on God’s stairway to abundant life is that of mourning our condition, where our hearts grieve over the pain we have brought to the heart of God. This is where we start seeing our sin and rebellion from God’s perspective and begin to grieve over it. Instead of comparing ourselves to those more wicked than we are, we see ourselves in the light of Christ and His perfectness and our hearts are broken in sorrow and repentance. While we are all tempted to compare and contrast by looking at those we think are worse sinners than us, in the hopes of grade on a curve and looking good compared to others. We need to remember that God doesn’t grade on a curve but on a cross, where we are all sinners who fall short of His glory. This is where we come to the next step, where God pronounces blessing and happiness on the meek and promises that they will inherit the earth. So let me ask you what images come to your mind when you think of “the meek”? In an aggressive, arrogant, self-assertive and self-seeking world that has elevated individual rights almost to a place of universal supremacy, meekness today is tied to timidity and weakness. We see meekness as being weak and spineless, being a doormat for others. The dictionary confirms this perspective by offering the primary definition of meekness as “hesitancy” and offering as synonyms the following: docility, timidity, insecurity, sheepishness, shyness. But it’s here where the world misses the boat because nothing could be further from the truth. The Biblical meaning of meekness is literally “strength under control.” In the Greek language, words were extremely precise and expressive. When the Greeks developed a word, they not only gave it a careful definition, they almost always illustrated it. Their definition for “strength under control,” was used to describe a wild stallion that had been tamed or broken. The tamed stallion still has the same power only now it was productive power instead of destructive. God wants to cultivate meekness in our lives so that instead of being wild animals who end up hurting and bruising others we can help and bless them. To be meek does not mean to be weak and wimpy, it means to have strength but to have it under control. In Numbers 12 we have a story of Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ sister and brother questioning Moses authority as the spokesperson from God, saying “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” Now verse 3 of that chapter describes Moses in this way: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth.” Moses was no wimpy “Mr. Milktoast.” For no weakling would ever have been capable of standing up to Pharaoh the power house of the known world. Or leading over a million people out of Egypt and through the Sinai desert for 40 years, with all the mumbling, grumbling and criticism of such a stiff-necked, rebellious people. No Moses was a mighty and courageous man who had allowed God to place a bit in his mouth and willingly placed the reins of control in God’s hands. In this story, instead of taking matters into his own hands, either to defend himself and justify his position or attack them for their jealousy, he left the matter in God’s hands, and the Lord responds by speaking directly to all three of them at once, leaving no doubt about His choice of Moses as His spokesman and causing Miriam to be covered with leprosy. But it’s here that we see the most amazing aspect of meekness, power under control, for instead of Moses responding with self-righteous or boastful at being vindicated and saying, “That’ll teach you for trying to mess with me!” Moses cries out to the Lord on her behalf, “Heal her, O God, I beseech thee.” Showing that the meek do not take delight in the punishment of the wicked for they know their own frailty and dependence on God’s mercy. Interestingly there are only two people in the Bible who were called meek, Moses and Jesus, and neither of them were weak men. Both were very strong masculine men but their power was in the hands of the Master. Jesus is the One through whom the entire universe was made and to whom all power and authority rightly belong. The One before whom the demons trembled and fled. The One who spoke to the wind and the waves – saying, “Peace. Be still!” and they obeyed Him. The One who could command a dead man lying in a tomb to come back to life and come out and Lazarus not only heard his voice but responded in absolute obedience. The One who said to Peter at His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, after Peter had just hacked off the ear of the high priest’s servant, “Put away your sword. Don’t you know that I could appeal to my Father and He would immediately have sent me twelve legions of angels?”Matthew 26:53. Who when Pontius Pilate said to Him before His crucifixion, “Don’t you know that I have power to release you and power to crucify you?”, Jesus replied, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above…” John 19:11. Here is strength beyond anything the world could muster, awesome power, yet power that was willingly and sacrificially placed under the Father’s control so that His eternal purposes for each of us might be fulfilled. That’s the true definition of meekness. When God “gentles” us, we become powerful under His control. So let me ask you whose hands are the reins of your life in, is your strength controlled by self or by the Savior?