Friday, 2 October 2009

Hope in the Beatitudes - meek inherit the earth

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

Meek is probably one of the most misunderstood words biblically. It is not helped by the fact that there is a hymn by Charles Wesley which begins “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild”. Meekness becomes associated with mildness, weakness, lack of strength. This is in fact the very opposite of what it means. The greek word “praus” is used to describe a soothing medicine, or sailors use it to describe a gentle breeze, or farmers use it to describe a broken-in colt. It is therefore great power under control.

Jesus calls himself meek. So when we read in the gospels that he went into the temple and whipped the moneylenders for desecrating the house of prayer, he was displaying meekness. When he called down woe upon the Pharisees for their misunderstanding of the Law, he was displaying meekness.

Meek people understand who they are before their Heavenly Father. Jesus knew His Father so well and depended upon Him to such an extent that He completely submitted to His will. In his perfection, Jesus models perfect meekness. We, on the other hand, completely unlike Jesus, are sinful. So our calling to meekness involves death – the death of our sinful nature, and living instead to God in submission to Him. It will result in more concern for God’s opinion of us, and less of the world’s opinion of us.

Jesus calls those to him who have been crushed by the law, recognise the burden of sin they carry, and are seeking His mercy: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle [meek - KJV] and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Those who are weary of attempting to follow God’s law and yet find themselves unable to do so, burdened by the fact that the law has made them conscious of sin (Rom 3:20) but powerless to do anything about it, can approach Christ empty-handed and find rest in Him. The rest for our souls comes when we trust in Him and His righteousness to save us, and not in our own righteousness which is but filthy rags. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, for He is the fulfilment of the law, He lived it perfectly on our behalf – and His righteousness is credited to us when we believe and trust in Him by faith.

A.W. Tozer says “The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values. He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own. Then the righteous shall shine forth in the Kingdom of their Father. He is willing to wait for that day. In the meantime he will have attained a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings.” (A.W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God).

The meek inherit the earth partially now, by obtaining this soul rest in Christ, but it will be fulfilled completely when Christ returns to set up His messianic Kingdom, and meek believers will reign in His Kingdom in complete submission to Him (Rev 20:6).

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