We are studying the eight keys to real happiness in the form of beatitudes—attitudes of the heart. And they really do run against the grain of our modern culture. If we ever wondered what we’re dealing with in this world–read the beatitudes and reverse them because our human nature and our modern culture recoils at everything Jesus said in Matthew 5. Let’s just read a few of them and see if we’re not right.
- He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”The world would say, “Blessed are the proud in spirit.”
- “Blessed are those who mourn.” We know that means to mourn over the sinful state. The world would say, “Blessed are those who mock at sin, who are proud because of their sins.”
- “Blessed are the meek.” The world would say, “Blessed are those who will try to get ahead by any means.
But I think perhaps the most misunderstood beatitude that we have is the one that is before us this morning, “Blessed are the meek.”
A study of its usage in Scripture reveals, first, that it is linked with and cannot be separated from lowliness: “Learn of Me: for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29)
“Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness” (Eph. 4:1, 2).
Second, it is associated with and cannot be divorced from gentleness: “I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1)
“To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Titus 3:2).
Third, the Divine promise is “the meek will He guide in judgment, and the meek will He teach His way” (Ps. 25:9), intimating that this grace consists of a pliant heart and will.
Meekness is the opposite of self-will toward God, and of ill-will toward men.
“The meek are those who quietly submit themselves before God, to His Word, to His rod, who follow His directions and comply with His designs, and are gentle toward men” (Matthew Henry).
Our modern culture thinks and equates meekness with weakness. And people today crave power and strength and authority and we men want to be macho.
Galatians 5 gives several fruit of the Spirit: Peace, patience, kindness, one of them is gentleness. This is the same Greek word that Matthew translates as meekness.
Meekness or gentleness…it’s not something that I can muster of my own power, of my own ability, it’s got to come from God, or it’s not going to come from me at all. And this word really is a word that was used to describe a wild animal that had been tamed or had been domesticated.
I want you to imagine a wild stallion. No one has ever ridden him. Bridle and bit have never been put upon him. He’s wild. He’s full of energy and strength and spirit. Now you take that horse and you tame him, you domesticate him. He becomes meek. You can put a saddle on him. His master can ride him, you can put a bit in his mouth and reins over his neck and he’s meek.
Now what have you done to that horse, for that horse? Have you taken away any of that horse’s strength? None at all. Have you taken away any of that horse’s spirit or his power? None at all. Have you taken away any of that horse’s energy? No.
The only difference is, now that horse’s strength and energy, that horse’s life force are being controlled by his master and channeled for youthful purposes. The wild stallion was controlled by himself, his wants, his passions, his emotions. But the domesticated, saddled horse is controlled by his master, and he has learned to obey his master’s touch on his reins.
When Jesus says how very happy are the meek, he’s not saying, happy is the person that has no strength, that has no spirit, that has no personality, that has no energy. He’s not saying, blessed is the whimp, or the timid, or the coward.
He IS saying, blessed, happy is that person who has all of his strength, and all of his spirit, or all of her personality or energy, but they’ve allowed someone else to master them and to control them.
Why are you happy if you’re meek? Because you’re no longer at the mercy of your own passion. You’re no longer at the the whim of your emotions or your anger or your temper. You can take an insult without giving one back. You can turn the other cheek, not because you’re weak, but because you’re stable and because you’re strong in the Lord.
You’re happy because you’re free, free from bitterness, and you’re not easily provoked to anger. You don’t have to resort to revenge. You’re God-controlled, you’ve allowed his Spirit to direct your spirit.
It takes strength and power to be meek. Way back in the book of Numbers 12:3, the Bible says that Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth. Now I doubt that anybody that really knows Moses would call him a weak person, but the Bible says he was meek.
Do you remember when Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and he saw that the people were worshipping a golden calf? Moses was hot, he was mad, and he was angry at the right time. He was angry because the people had insulted God.
But in Numbers 12:1, it says that Miriam and Aaron were speaking against Moses, perhaps they were jealous of him. But they personally attacked him, and Moses there was the meekest man on the face of the earth. So when he was personally attacked, he was very humble. But when he was noticing people that were insulting God and disobeying God then he was angry at the right time.
Abraham was God’s chosen father of the nations, and when Abraham decided that he and Lot needed to part company, he didn’t say, Lot, now God has chosen me, I want all of this land that I want, then you can have what’s left. He said, “Lot, you choose and I’ll take what’s left.” Abraham had the power to take what he wanted, but he was meek and he let Lot have the good land.
David had several opportunities when he was in Saul’s court to take that kingdom by force, to even kill Saul if he wanted to. But he would not raise his own hand and take by his own power what he knew God had promised to him. He was patient, he was meek.
When Jesus saw the merchants in the Temple, he was angry. They were making a mockery of the place of worship. And he made himself a weapon, and he drove them out. When Jesus denounced the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, he was angry.
But our Lord said of himself, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” He was angry at the right time. Near the end of Jesus’ life when he was beaten, when he was ridiculed and spat upon and crucified, he remained meek and compliant. Do you think he acted that way out of weakness? No. He acted that way out of the strength that he received from his Father.
So meekness is when strength and gentleness are perfectly combined. It takes more power for a person to be meek than to do anything else in this life that we usually equate with power. You know all of us have so much God-given energy and passion, so much life and so much spirit, it needs to be controlled.
Now our human tendency is to just let that energy and spirit just run its course, just do what it wants to do. But the Bible says that leads to ruin.
How is meekness shown? Jesus gives us a great picture of this if you’re still in Matthew 5. Look down at verse 38, let’s read a few of these verses together. Jesus says, ‘”You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go wit him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.'”
“‘You have heard that it was said, (verse 43) ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” By the way, the law never did say that, that was a pharisaical addition to the law. Verse 44 says, “‘But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.'”
And then he says what God would do in a situation, “‘God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, (or whole) as your heavenly Father is perfect.'”
Have you noticed that everything Jesus talked about in those ten verses had to do with how we react to things? You see meekness is not shown in our action, but in our reaction.
Most of us evaluate our Christianity based on how we act. God never has that as the final and ultimate evaluation of our Christian life. It’s not how you act, it’s how you react. It’s easy to act right…it’s tough to react right.
Aristotle, speaking of the ancient Greeks, listen to what he said about meek. “A meek man is angry on the right ground and against the right persons and in the right manner and at the right moment and for the right length of time.”
Meekness rewarded, the Bible says, “The meek will inherit the earth.” One version says the meek inherit all. This is probably a quotation from Psalm 37 where David says the meek will inherit the land or the land of Canaan, and to us we’re talking about heaven here, about being in heaven and being rewarded.
Part of inheriting the earth in Matthew 5:5 is enjoying the earth now. The meek have the greatest capacity to appreciate the blessings that God has given us.
If you’re controlled by your own anger or by vindictiveness of being revengeful, you can’t enjoy God’s creation. But if you’re God-controlled and love-controlled, you may have less than others in the world, but God enables you to enjoy it more.
You inherit the earth in the sense that you really possess it more than the other person, you possess more of what God has given mankind.
To inherit the earth is to grow more and more alive to the presence of God in the world. And then that awareness enables you to prosper in the ways that really count.
Number one, you’ll prosper because your calmness gives you good judgment. Now that’s a blessing from God when you can be calm enough and meek enough to exercise good judgment for you, for your family, for your business associates, that’s a gift from God.
Secondly, if you’re meek, your contentment will give you security and peace of mind, and that’s being happy in this life.
Thirdly, if you’re meek, your gentleness and your fairness with others will gain the confidence of others. You know folks like to deal with people they can trust and people with whom they feel at ease.
So we inherit the earth and we’re going to enjoy God’s blessings more in this life, but secondly, there is a future blessing. The meek will have their ultimate reward in heaven in that land beyond.
To be meek, is to be eternity-controlled. God wants us to look toward eternity and let that control our actions here. The person who is controlled by his own lust, by his own selfish ambitions is going to struggle and strain to get every ounce of dirt he can here in this life. What a miserable life. And really that’s foolish the Bible says because the world is winding down, it’s passing away. And so if we’re putting our eggs in this basket, we’re going to be ultimately unhappy and not blessed.
I heard the other day that in the past several years the eastern Atlantic seacoast is sinking into the ocean at a rate of about a foot every 30 years. Now it’s going to take a while before it sinks, but it’s interesting how God keeps giving us these little reminders that this earth is not eternal. He gives us reminders in our own bodies as we age and the pains come and the feebleness comes.
This earth is not going to last forever. He seems to be tapping us on the shoulder and saying, son, this world is passing away. But he that does the will of God abides forever. The will of God is, “Blessed are the meek.” See, everything is eventually coming under God’s control.
So God wants you to experience the peace of mind that comes by letting Christ rule your heart, how very happy are the meek. You know you’ll never ever be sorry for yielding to God’s control. That has a lot to do with the invitation of Christ. I’ve never known anyone who has completely given their life to the Lord and who later regretted it.