Sunday, May 3, 2009
Demands of the King of Grace: Meekness
"Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."
Someone has said that trying to count spiritual character in somebody is like trying to count rocks at the beach, or stars in the sky- often times what you thought was a star turns out to be a slow moving satellite, or what looked like a rock was a clump of dried mud.
When it comes to the Beatitudes we feel this same burden, is this a quality I possess? Do I just need to work on it harder? Am I hopelessly unable to ever really do this so, I might as well forget about it?- counting stars. These 8 short statements that make up the Manifesto of Jesus, often seem hard to pin down as to what they seem to be measuring or pointing us towards. What may be even more difficult for us is that the beatitudes do not describe a bunch of different groups of people who possess a variety of character strengths that God will one day bless. The characteristics herein described are inclusive. If you are a blessed one, one who finds favor in God's kingdom, these characteristics- all of them- are supposed to be evident in your life. The question of where and how will be answered if we will do a deeper study of the teachings of scripture regarding these characteristics.
The beatitude of meekness may be one of the hardest ones to define, or truly identify in our lives or the lives of others. Let me try and help our understanding by pointing us to other places in scripture where meekness is demonstrated:
1. Numbers 12:1-4 Moses shows us that Meekness Takes a Hit/Punch/ Absorbs Offense Moses is accused, by the spiritual leaders around him of being a selfish, arrogant leader - who thinks that only God will talk through him. These other leaders doubted it and decided to confront him about it. Right in the middle of the struggle- where you expect Moses to stand up and point to his record of phenomenal miracles- we get the verse "And Moses was the meekest man in all the earth." This then is followed by God who advocates for Moses. Meek people are able to let God make the wrongs right, they just absorb the hit, take it to God and wait.
2. James 1:19-21 Meekness Takes a Backseat/Is Reasonable/Teachable James, as he often does, gives us a comparison of two different types of people one is quick to anger, quick to speak up, quick to hold to their opinion as the absolute right opinion. The other person is quick to listen, slow to anger, profoundly aware that they might not be right about everything all of the time. They are willing to learn, open to reasonableness. Have you ever been in a discussion where someone says, "Well you have your opinion and I have mine. I guess we are just going to have to disagree." They say this, like at a board meeting, as some great act of their intelligence of getting along- the real story behind the opinion is, I am refusing to be open to a reasonable argument. I will not allow my opinion to take a backseat to the collective wisdom of others who may also have spiritual insight on this matter. They are not willing to change if they can be shown error in their thinking because they are not willing to see- therefore they do not possess meekness, even if their statement to disagree comes across this way.
3. Galatians 6:1,2 Meekness Takes a Gut Check/ Self Suspicious Jesus, in absolute meekness, when encountering evil, deceit, harmful doctrine, and ungodly behavior confronted, rebuked, threw over tables and whipped people. How are we to act in humility when we need to confront? ACT- confront in a spirit of meekness but keep watch on your self. Gut check, self suspicious of our own faults even as we confront and journey with someone to restoration. Jesus will bring up this same issue further along in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1-5). He doesn't say, "Meekness ignores sin." Meekness confronts the sin while being careful to take our own sin and weaknesses to the cross first.
Meekness can only be shown in these external ways if we first possess meekness internally. True Meekness may be difficult at times to identify but false meekness is quickly seen as fake when conflict arises. What gives the Christian a courageous meekness in how they view life and relationships? Each beatitude has as its conclusion a promise- For those who have meekness, "they shall inherit the earth". Why do I have to be right, own the biggest car, the biggest house, be known as 'the big man around town' and hold all the correct opinions about everything important, when I have a Heavenly Father who owns the entire city? Meekness is indeed a shift in trust. From trusting our own agenda to trusting our Heavenly Father to have the answers, hold the truth and being willing to be used for His glory, not worrying over our own. This is where internal meekness begins- recognition and surrender to the will of the Father. This is a Jesus' type of meekness.