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Blessed are the Meek


Matthew 5:5


Preached by Ken Sapp

January 16, 2000

Introduction: “The Sermon on the Mount Today”

Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and gathering them around him And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Then Simon Peter said, “Do we have to write this down?”
And Andrew said, “Are we supposed to know this?”
And Philip said, “What if we don’t know it?”
And Bartholomew said, “Do we have to turn this in?”
And John said, “The other disciples didn’t have to learn this.”
And Matthew said, “When do we get out of here?”
And Judas said,’ “What does this have to do with real life?”

And Jesus wept.

Today we are looking at a portion of Jesus’ sermon on the mount known as the beattitudes. I hope you don’t see this as an academic endeavor, but as a way to live your life.

“Blessed are the meek”

Aspirations of Greatness?
James and John were two ambitious, self-assured, self-promoting disciples. If anyone had an ambition to inherit the earth, it was James and John. They asked to be seated at Jesus’ right in Heaven. They argued over who would be greatest in the kingdom. They were always fighting to be at the front of the queue. “Jesus, haven’t you noticed? We’re the best…of this group. Aren’t you making plans for us to be your #1 and #2 for eternity?” And I can almost imagine Jesus coming to this point and taking a glance over at his overambitious disciples, James and John. “Blessed are the Meek for they will inherit the earth.”

Meekness is not any more popular as an aspiration today as it was to James and John!

In today’s society, where rights our focus, meekness is not a popular idea. It’s more common to read articles or books, telling us how to get what we deserve, how to exercize our rights, how to be ambitious and sucessful in our ambitions of greatness. If you asked your friends or family or co-workers to make a list of your most admirable traits, chances are you wouldn’t appreciate seeing that word, MEEK? When you were a kid, did you ever say “I hope I can be meek when I grow up!” Parents tell their children to be honest, hard-working and to stand up for themselves, to be successful. Have you ever heard a father tell his child “I want you to learn to be more meek?”

Who wants to be meek?

Is Meek Weak?
When we think of meek, we think of a wishy-washy, spineless, someone without a backbone — someone who is afraid to stand up for himself, someone who lets others push him around.

Illustration
There is a group founded by J. Upton Dickson called DOORMATS. That stands for “Dependent Organization Of Really Meek And Timid Souls.” Their motto was: “The meek shall inherit the earth — if that’s okay with everybody.” Their symbol was the yellow traffic light, whose message is, Slow down and prepare to yield the right of way to others. That’s not what the Bible is talking about when it speaks of meekness. The biblical concept of meekness does not imply weakness. It does not mean wimpy. Whatever Biblical meekness is, it is not being a doormat. All we have to do is to think of Moses confronting Pharaoh or to think of Jesus with a scourge of cords driving the moneychangers out of the temple. Of these two men described in the Bible I as meek..these are not actions of someone who is weak.

Is it timid or passive?
I used to think of meek as being timid or passive. If you ordered fish and received liver, you said nothing, because it would be un-Christian . . . “blessed are the meek, for they shall enjoy liver.” If someone cut the queue you had been standing in for sometime, you smiled, because it is “blessed to be meek, for they shall arrive late.”

“Blessed are the meek” is against our human reasoning. Our natural tendency is to strive for honor, high positions, material posessions, and power. Yet in the beattitudes Jesus commended and blessed the meek!

Other scriptures that also encourage meekness

1. (Note: in modern translations the Greek word is often translated “gentle”) Matt 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (NKJ)
2. Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (NKJ)
3. Eph 4:1-2 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (NKJ)
4. Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; (NKJ)
5. 1 Tim 6:11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (NKJ)
6. 2 Tim 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (NKJ)
7. Titus 3:1-2 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. (NKJ)

So if meekness is not weakness and it is an attribute we are to possess, What is meekness?

A. Definition: (Webster’s dictionary)
o has as the first definition of meek: “patient and mild; not inclined to anger or resentment.”
o Then the second definition is, “too submissive; easily imposed on; spineless; spiritless.” This is the definition that has given meekness such a bad name, and we don’t think of it as a good quality. But neither one of these definitions are what Jesus meant by meek; they are too passive.
o Webster’s third definition, one that he calls obsolete now is “gentle or kind.” That’s why in modern translations you see the word “gentle” rendered rather than “meek”. You see, meek does not mean just passively sitting there, letting everyone take advantage of you because you have no “backbone” or spirit. It means actively reaching out to others with gentleness and kindness.

B. Characteristics:
Meekness could be described as being mild, gentle, humble, tenderhearted, patient, slow to anger, controlled, moderated, not self-seeking, self-less

C. Examples of Meekness in the Bible

1. Moses
The Old Testament tells us “now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Meek, yes, but spineless and spiritless, no! Think about the job that God had for him the last forty years of his life. He confronted Pharaoh at least a dozen times, demanding he let the children of Israel go free. He led the greatest group of grumblers ever assembled in one place for forty years through the wilderness and resolved problem after problem for them. He had a tremendous relationship with God, a relationship in which God spoke to him face to face as a friend (Ex. 33:11; Numbers 12:8; Deut. 5:4; 34:10). Yet in spite of this boldness for God, Moses would not defend his own name. Moses was put down for his personality, character, and leadership; yet he never defended himself. Conversely, He would stand to defend the name of the Lord at all costs. Looking at Moses we see meekness is not standing for our own honor. It is standing for God’s honor.

2. Jesus
Jesus said that He was “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29), but he was never seen as spineless or spiritless. Do you remember what He did when He saw the temple being desecrated by merchants buying and selling in it? Twice in His ministry He took a whip and “cleaned it out.” He took on the whole crowd and drove them from the temple area since they made his father’s house a house of theives. That’s not an action of a weak and timid man. Yet what we know of Jesus gives us an even greater example of meekness.

John 10:18 “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (NIV)

Isa 53:7 “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. (NKJ)

2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich”

Philippians 2:5-8, NAS “[A]lthough He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”.

D. Greek word PRAUS
1. In Greek literature the word is Used to describe a soothing medicine
2. Used by sailors to describe a gentle breeze
3. Used by farmers to describe a broken colt or tamed animal

All three are examples of great power under control.

* Medicine does not give up its strength or power to cure the sick, but it’s strength is controlled?
* The wind does not give up power to push the ship across the sea, but the sail are set to control its power.
* A horse does not give up its strength or power when broken to its owners command, but its strength is brough under the control of it’s rider.

Focus on three aspects of Meekness
1. Power under God’s control
2. Self is conceded to the Will of God
3. Quiet Trust in God

1. Power under control
* Controlled in a gentleness – a restraining
* The meek person is a gentle person. They do what is right before God in every situation. They do not have a domineering spirit but will often give up their own rights for the good of another. No task is too high for them, and none are too low. Controlled temper
* Meek are patient. If others grieve them, they put up with it. They do not simply forgive seven times, but seventy times seven times. In fact they often do not feel that anything has been done to need forgiveness, for they have not taken the other’s actions as an affront. Controlled between extremes

It is a “a happy medium between extremes.” Meekness is moderation.
o Meekness is a medium between uncontrolled, unjustifiable anger (angry without reason) and not becoming angry at all no matter what takes place around you. A meek person can have anger when others are treated unjustly, but not be angry when he is unjustly treated (Mark 3:1-5; John 2:13-16. It is getting angry at right time, in the right measure, and for the right reason.
o It lies between a bad temper and spineless incompetence
o It lies between between being dominating/overbearing and recklessness indifference
o It lies between being impatient and being aloof

2. Self is conceded to the Will of God
* Self is obscured by a desire to please God
* As such they seem to be humble. But it is not a putting down of self, but an exaltation and magnification of God to such an extent that any sense of self is as a drop in the Ocean. If we are ever to inherit the kingdom, we must get rid of sinful ambitions, discontent, anger, self-seeking and selfishness. Our will becomes dissolved in the will of God.
* Meekness is not self-centered; but is God-centered.
* Submissive to will of God.

If there was one thing about Jesus’ ministry that consistently stood out, it would be that He always submitted His will to the Father’s will. He denied Himself and did the Father’s will. This is a primary characteristic of a meek person. Whatever God wills, they will do. They do not quarrel with God, nor do they rebel against His dealings with them. A meek person, one who is submissive to God’s will, knows the real meaning of Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Like Paul, the meek know that God’s grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in weakness. .

3. Quiet Trust in God

Finally, meekness involves contentment. The meek person is not ambitious for a position that they do not have. If God wants to exalt them to a high position, that’s all right. But if He wants to keep them in a low position, that’s all right, too. A meek person is satisfied with what God provides for them. They have their ups and downs, but their God is the God of the mountains and the valleys. If they can have God’s face shining on them, they are satisfied whether they are on the mountaintop or in the valley. They are content with what they have and believe that “Enough is as good as a feast.” No matter what happens to them, it is well with them, and they are content knowing that their life is in God’s hands. And since they trust in God, they are also able to put others before themselves. There is no need to strive in efforts to meet their own needs. God will meet them and he knows our needs better than we do. As he takes care of the sparrows and the lillies of the field, even more so will he take care of us. Thus efforts can be directed in ministering and serving others. We can place their needs ahead of our own because we know God will meet our needs for us.

What Is the end result for the Meek?

1. First they are “Blessed” or Happy! They have a true abiding peace in their heart that is not effected by circumstances.
2. The Second, inherit the Earth. How shall the meek inherit the earth? I don’t believe he is speaking of a parel of land, a material possession. In I Tim. 4:8. Paul says, “. . . godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
* The present life – Overcoming It
* They don’t let the world and others control them, but are self controlled. They do not react, but act by choice. They are more like a thermostat than a thermometer. A thermometer rises and falls with its surroundings, but a thermostats sets its own spiritual temperature. The present life – Contentment
* The meek inherit the earth in another sense, namely, they enjoy what they have. If you show me a person who thoroughly enjoys life, I will tell you at once that they have a meek and quiet spirit. Enjoyment of life does not consist in the possessions of riches. There are many rich people who are utterly miserable. There are also many poor people who are equally miserable. You may have misery, or you may have happiness, according to your state of heart in any condition of life. The meek person is thankful, happy and contented, and it is this contentment that makes life enjoyable. The future life – Reign with Christ

When Christ returns to reign over the earth, we will return and reign with Him.

Application: Meekness is a choice
We tend to believe that the person who does not demand one’s rights, who does not seek one’s own best interests all the time, who does not respond to wrongs done against oneself must necessarily do so because they are weak or frightened. It never occurs to us, that that person may simply have made a choice not to do so based on principle. At the core of meekness is choice. In every situation you and I face we have choices presented to us. If a person cuts in front of me on the PIE, I can shake my fist at him, tailgate him, cut in front of him at the earliest possible moment, or I can decide that it really isn’t that important and just keep driving. The same is true of times when some may have talked about me or has been rude or is taking advantage of me. I can react in anger, seek revenge, demand my own way, or I can choose to do none of those things. It’s my choice. In meekness I choose my actions, based on principles, even when those choices run counter to society’s norms.I restrain and control my actions. I submit my will to that of God’s will. I choose to be content in whatever the circumstances. Now, looking at meekness in those terms certainly puts to lie the idea that meekness equals weakness. When you make a choice based on principle, then you have exercised the greatest strength of all.

Think about the way we approach people when you have a difficulty with them, be the person a sales clerk, a coworker, an employee or family member. Do you choose meekness, gentleness in your dealings with them? When you have something tough to say to someone, do you treat that person with humility, thinking of their feelings before you speak?”

A truly strong person, because of that strength and security, is free to treat people with meekness. “Meekness is not weakness; meekness is power submitting in love.” The selfish greedy man cannot inherit the earth — he may own it briefly, but it possesses him and he is its slave.

a. The meek person uses his power under God’s control
b. The meek person knows he is not the answer, God is, so he is willing to be used by God
c. The meek person does not need to overcome or overwhelm, for he knows that God will do all of that
d. The Meek person is content!

Conclusion

Michael Jordan’s team was once down by 20 points in a game. The super-star pumped it up into over-drive, and began to contest every shot, scrapped for every rebound, swiped at every pass. He was aggressive, nearly ruthless. But in each play he was supremely talented and powerful. He seemed like a basketball juggernaut. He mowed over the other merely-human players. He was a scoring machine, and a defensive fortress. Overpowering is the word.

The next week, however, he was meek. He had all the same power that he’d shown in the previous game. It was just that he had the ball stolen several times in the next game. He was blocked out from collecting rebounds, he couldn’t hit a basket because of the tough defensive pressure, and he turned the ball over repeatedly. The difference? He was playing in a benefit game against disabled students. He let them steal the ball from him. He let them beat him. He was meek; he had all the power of the previous game, it was just governed, under control.

The Olympic Games will soon be held in Australia. They are about winning, competing, beating your opponent, dominating the opposition. At the Special Olympics in Seattle a few years ago, nine mentally handicapped children lined up at the starting line for the 100 yard dash. At the gun they all came out sprinting as fast as they could. One little boy, in the middle of the pack, stumbled and fell down, and began to cry in shame and disappointment and embarrassment. The other eight heard his cries and slowed down and stopped and turned around and walked back to him. A little girl with Down Syndrome bent down to help him up and kissed him and said “this will make it better.” And then all nine held hands and walked to the finish line. The crowd, at first silent, cheered for a long time. People who saw it are still telling the story.

Closing Prayer

Bow your heads for a few moments and ask God to search your heart. Ask Him to give you the spirit of meekness and gentleness that you need. If He shows you anything in your heart that should not be there, confess it as sin, ask His forgiveness and ask Him to cleanse you of it. God stands ready to make us what He tells us we must be! Submit to Him and to His Word, and let Him have His way in your life today! Bring your life under his control, yield your will to his will, be content in whatever circumstances he has placed you in. Choose to be meek!


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