************ Sermon on Matthew 5:5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 11, 1999
"Blessed Are The Meek"
A "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." This beatitude causes real surprise because it is so completely and entirely contrary to what we see in life. Who could ever imagine world conquest – possession of the whole universe – given to the meek, of all people!
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." This is so contrary to the ways of the world. The world thinks in terms of strength and power, of ability, of self-assurance, of aggressiveness. According to the world, riches and glory, conquest and possession, become yours when you assert yourself, express yourself, organize your powers and abilities. Success is yours when you grab it, fight for it, and go for the gold. There is a Dutch saying, "Bold people possess half the world." The English equivalent is, "Fortune favors the bold." That's the attitude of the world.
However, Jesus says, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Once more, then, we are reminded that the child of God is completely different from the world. He or she is a new person, a new creation. The child of God belongs to an entirely different Kingdom. The child of God has an entirely different set of values and priorities.
Not only is the child of God so completely different from the world. We can also say that the world cannot possibly understand him or her. He or she is a riddle to the world.
Topic: ParadoxesThis means there is a big problem with our lifestyle and profession if the non-Christians around us have no problems understanding us.
Title: The Mystery of the Christian Life
A real Christian is an odd number. He feels love for One whom he has never seen; talks with familiarity to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be full; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest; and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passes knowledge.
B "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." This statement must have come as a great shock to the Jews of Jesus' day. Those Jews had definite ideas about the Kingdom and the Messiah. The Kingdom, they thought, was going to be established by military power and might. And the Messiah, they believed, was the One Who was going to lead them to victory. So they were thinking of conquest and fighting. After all, even the children of Israel had to fight for their inheritance in the Promised Land. But Jesus says, "No, no, that is not the way. I am not like that, and my Kingdom is not like that. My way, the way of my Kingdom is like this: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
C "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." I'm afraid that this beatitude is also contrary to much of what we see in the Christian Reformed Church today. As you all know, different groups have sprung up within the church in order to get the church to change its thinking on various issues. This happened with both sides of the women in church office issue. This is happening with the homosexual issue today. I can't help but observe that groups and individuals on both sides of the issues have been anything but meek in their approach; they want their own way and are willing to do almost anything to get it. Articles, speeches, newsletters, and magazines being spread throughout the CRC are anything but meek in their approach. There is much reason for concern but I know the answer does not lie in power politics and inflammatory speeches. For that's the way of the world. The world says, I have to grab, I have to fight, I have to conquer, it is up to me. But the Christian knows better. He or she knows that the battle is the Lord's. We ought to be humble enough to leave it up to Him and not to us.
A "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Who are these meek? What do they do? What are they like? Perhaps the best way of approaching this is to look at it in terms of certain examples.
ABRAHAM is one person who springs to mind. Remember when the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot argued about water and grass? Abraham proposed a parting of ways. Abraham was the older of the two; it was to him that God gave the promise of the land; so Abraham had every right to choose first. However, Abraham yielded by giving Lot the first choice. And he does it without murmur and without complaint. That is meekness (Gen 13:8-11).
B DAVID. Remember him as a lad going out to meet mighty Goliath armed only with a sling and 5 pebbles? He slung one stone and killed Goliath. I think you would agree with me that this was one of the greatest moments of David's life. Did you ever notice that David never describes this victory over Goliath in all of the psalms? He talks about everything else that has happened: enemies, sins, trials, lessons. But he never talks about Goliath. That is meekness.
C JOHN THE BAPTIST. He was such a powerful figure that Josephus, the great Jewish historian, reports when John's name was mentioned many years later people still trembled at the thought of him. Jesus' eulogy of John was that "Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist" (Mt 11:11). Yet, John was one of the meekest men in history. When asked who he was, John the Baptist simply said, "I am nobody. I am to be heard, not to be seen. I am just a voice" (John 1:23). When John saw the Christ, instead of giving a speech about his own great accomplishments, he sent his disciples to Jesus telling them, "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30). Another time John said that he was not worthy to untie the thongs of Christ's sandals (John 1:27). His humility, his meekness, could scarcely be greater.
D PAUL THE APOSTLE. What a mighty man of God. Yet he calls himself the worst of all sinners and the least of the apostles (1 Tim 1:15; 1 Cor 15:9). Consider what he suffered: beatings, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger. Consider what the churches said about him:
(2Cor 10:10) For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."He admits he is "timid" when face to face and "bold" when away (2 Cor 10:1).
E Lastly, consider JESUS CHRIST. Don't forget Who He is: the second person of the triune Godhead, the eternal Son, the Word through Whom God made the heavens and the earth. In entering our world He made Himself nothing, He took on the nature of a servant, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death (Phil 2:6f). On Palm Sunday He came into Jerusalem "gentle and riding on a donkey" (Mt 21:5). What's more, Christ took up His cross and carried it (John 19:17). He didn't have to be dragged to Calvary. And, when He died on the cross He yielded everything. Remember what He said?
(Mt 11:28-29) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.You seek His meekness in all of life. You see it in His reaction to other people. You see it in the way He suffered persecution and scorn, sarcasm and derision.
A "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Well, then, what is meekness? We have looked at the examples. What do we see in them? What are they like? What do they tell us about meekness?
First, let us notice what it isn't. It is not a natural quality. Apart from the Lord, take everyone of those examples I mentioned, and you will find someone who is not meek by nature. Think of the powerful, extraordinary nature of a man like David, and yet observe his meekness. Think of Paul: a master mind, a strong character, an extraordinary personality; yet consider his utter humility and meekness. No, it is not a natural quality – something you can be born with; rather, it is something that is only produced by the Spirit of God (Gal 5:23).
Also, meekness is not the same as being easy-going. There are people who are easy-going, but that does not mean they are meek. Some of them are flabby or hen-pecked, some of them have weakness in personality or character, and some of them are just plain nice people.
Meekness does not mean a spirit of compromise, of "peace at any price." How often is the man regarded as meek who is willing to smooth over all differences, overlook all divisions, and puts unity over truth. No, that is not meekness.
Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is compatible with great authority and power. The martyrs were meek, but they were never weak; they were strong men, yet meek men. God forbid that we should ever confuse the two.
B What, then, is meekness? It is something every Christian is supposed to be. Every child of God, regardless of his temperament or psychology, is meant to be meek. Every child of God, regardless of position or power, is meant to be meek. Every child of God, regardless of gifts or abilities, is meant to be meek. All children of God, whether they are in or out of church office, whether they be male or female, whether they be young or old, whether they be for or against certain issues, are meant to be meek.
During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, "Sir, I am a corporal!"
The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, "Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in -chief, George Washington, and I will come and help you again."
C What, then, is meekness. The Greek word used by Jesus means "gentle, humble, considerate, patient, courteous." Our natural inclination is to be defensive, critical, rebellious, ready to become angry, upset and irritated in all kinds of circumstances. Meek people are long on endurance and patience. They are willing to bear a cross without grumbling.
D When or if we are meek it should come to expression in three areas. First of all, we should be meek towards God. When He tests our faith, we should not act as children who start screaming and kicking because they are disciplined. Think of it this way:
The Greek word for "meek" describes an animal which has been trained by its master. Wild and unruly animals are worthless but when trained they become meek, that is teachable and quiet.Likewise, people who are meek are open to the Lord's leading, guidance, and direction. Those who are meek are under the control and discipline of God. And those who aren't meek are not under the instruction of the Lord.
Second, we should be meek towards our fellow man. This does not mean that we may not stand up for what is right. We are allowed to seek justice, appealing to the authorities who are established by God. But at the same time, as individuals, we should not be vengeful, taking the law into our own hands. Meekness meets evil with good and answers harm with love.
Third, we should be meek towards or about ourselves. The man who is meek is not always watching himself and his own interests. He is not always on the defensive. He is not overly sensitive. We know all about this, don't we? One of the greatest curses of man's fall into sin is this sensitivity about the self. We spend the whole of our lives watching ourselves, preoccupied with ourselves. But when the child of God becomes meek, he or she is finished with all that; he or she no longer worries about self and what others say and think. To be truly meek means we no longer protect ourselves. The woman who is truly meek is never sorry for herself and full of self-pity. The man who is truly meek doesn't blow his own horn.
Topic: PrideThis old woodpecker reminds me of people who think more highly of themselves than they should. Usually they are so busy bragging about their achievements and their greatness that they fail to recognize God as the source of all their abilities. They are suffering from spiritual delusions of grandeur. Without the Lord no one amounts to anything, and in our own strength we cannot please Him.
Subtopic: Examples of
Corrie Ten Boom used to tell the story about a proud woodpecker who was tapping away at a dead tree when the sky unexpectedly turned black and the thunder began to roll. Undaunted, he went right on working. Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the old tree, splintering it into hundreds of pieces. Startled but unhurt, the haughty bird flew off, screeching to his feathered friends, "Hey, everyone, look what I did! Look what I did!"
A "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." "Inherit the earth." What does that mean? It has a present and a future reference.
In one way the meek already inherit the earth. The person who is truly meek is always satisfied; he or she is already content. The apostle Paul best expresses this when he says about himself:
(2 Cor 6:10) having nothing, and yet possessing everything ...All things are yours if you are one of those meek children of God; you have already inherited the earth.
(Phil 4:18) I am amply supplied ...
(Phil 4:11-13) ... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances ...
(1 Cor 3:21-23) All things are yours ... (because) ... you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
The godless may boast and throw their weight around, yet real possession, real happiness, real satisfaction, eludes their grasp. The meek, on the other hand, although they may be deprived, yet because they know what it is to live and reign with Christ, can enjoy and even "possess" the earth, which belongs to Christ.
B "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." "Inherit the earth." This obviously has a future reference too. In the future life the tables will be turned. At that time the blessed meek – people who in this life are trampled underfoot, who struggle for existence, who everybody ignores or rides roughshod over them – will be kings and judges. They shall inherit the earth. Again I think of what Paul says:
(1 Cor 6:2-3) Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? ... Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (cf Mt 19:28)
(2 Tim 2:12) if we endure, we will also reign with him ... (cf Rom 8:17)
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." I repeat what I said before: this is not a natural condition. None of us can make ourselves meek. Nothing but the Holy Spirit can make us one of the blessed meek. It is the Spirit, and only the Spirit, who renews us poor selfish people to be meek like Christ.
You and I claim to be Christian. This means we claim to have the Spirit. This means we have no excuse for not being one of the blessed meek!
So I ask you: are you what you are supposed to be? are you one of the blessed meek?
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