By Meekness, Not Might
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:5
Sermon Theme: True happiness is realized when one embraces the heart of Christ.
Blessed are the meek,… Who are not easily provoked to anger; who patiently bear, and put up with injuries and affronts; carry themselves courteously, and affably to all; have the meanest thoughts of themselves, and the best of others; do not envy the gifts and graces of other men; are willing to be instructed and admonished, by the meanest of the saints; quietly submit to the will of God, in adverse dispensations of providence; and ascribe all they have, and are, to the grace of God. Meekness, or humility, is very valuable and commendable… Here meekness is to be considered, not as a moral virtue, but as a Christian grace, a fruit of the Spirit of God; which was eminently in Christ, and is very ornamental to believers; and of great advantage and use to them, in hearing and receiving the word; in giving an account of the reason of the hope that is in them; in instructing and restoring such, who have backslidden, either in principle or practice; and in the whole of their lives and conversations; and serves greatly to recommend religion to others: such who are possessed of it, and exercise it, are well pleasing to God; when disconsolate, he comforts them; when hungry, he satisfies them; when they want direction, he gives it to them; when wronged, he will do them right; he gives them more grace here, and glory hereafter. The blessing instanced, in which they shall partake of, is,
they shall inherit the earth; not the land of Canaan, though that may be alluded to; nor this world, at least in its present situation; for this is not the saints’ rest and inheritance: but rather, the “new earth”, which will be after this is burnt up; in which only such persons as are here described shall dwell; and who shall inherit it, by virtue of their being heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; whose is the earth, and the fullness thereof. Though some think heaven is here designed, and is so called, partly for the sake of variety of expression, from Matthew 5:3 and partly in allusion to the land of Canaan, a type of it; and may be called an earth, or country, that is an heavenly one, in opposition to this earthly one; as the heavenly Jerusalem is opposed to the earthly one, and which will be a glorious inheritance (Psalms 37:11).
(From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
- The Jews did not understand the power of meekness. The idea of a meek Messiah leading meek people was far from any of their concepts of the messianic kingdom. Do some people rejected Jesus because He does not fulfill their idea and expectations of a powerful saving God?
- Do you think Jesus’ willingness to proceed with his crucifixion was an act of weakness or of inner strength? Who was blessed by Jesus’ obedience to the Father?
- Based on a correct view of meekness – do you yield easily or reluctantly to others? Do you find it difficult not to be large and in charge? Are you more concerned about justifying your own ways, defending your own rights, and serving your own ends?
- Do you sometimes forcefully argue your position with others, even on inconsequential matters? When small disagreements come up, will you consciously focus on letting them go instead of arguing your opinion?
- When was the last time you had to conscientiously submit to someone else? Did you do so in a patient, long-suffering and gentle way or did it take on another form that was belligerent and impatient?
- Are you willing to giving up your rights and prerogatives for the sake of a relationship, for the sake of harmony between households, for the sake of your testimony before others; for the sake of unity in the church body?
- Is your attitude one of subservience, trust and submission towards God’s will? God works only with those who are subject to Him, not with those who do their own thing. In Matthew 5:5 Christ was saying His kingdom will be occupied with people who are submissive to God.
- Do you sometimes think that instead of being gentle with others, you think that they should be stronger, should persevere more, should have more faith, etc? Even though you may be right you should correct them with gentleness and encourage them spiritually?
- What does it mean that we will inherit the earth? Are you willing to believe God’s promises and stop trying to fulfill them on our own? Since God said we will inherit the earth, there is no need to spend our lives trying to get it now. In every example of meekness in the Bible the underlying motive was that the person knew God’s promises. Trust in God’s promises is the motivating factor behind meekness. We don’t need to be in control because God is—patiently wait for God to bring the promise to pass (e.g. Abraham).
- Is the idea of Jesus’ promise that the meek will “inherit the earth” is something you feel ready to accept? Do you see evidence of this promise? Do you need a high level of trust in God to claim this promise?
- Have you consider that good things come from somewhere, that is, from God—not just luck or our own cleverness or industry? Awareness of being blessed can put us in a closer, grateful, trusting relationship with God that frees us from fear and opens us to divinely inspired love and joy. This is different from the often short-lived and shallow joy of “getting stuff.”
- Do we understand where meekness comes from – its courage, its strength, its conviction, and its pleasantness come from God, not from self? Jesus “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).
- Is your goal and actions to imitate the meekness of the Lord? Jesus said, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matthew 11:29) Paul entreated the Ephesians to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2). He told the Colossians to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). He told Titus to remind those under his leadership “to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
- Can the meek, who can be angry, restrain their wrath in obedience to the will of God? Can they not be angry unless they can be angry and not sin? Rather, is it better to use soft words to pacify wrath and give place to the passions of others? Jesus carried out his messianic ministry, not as a Zealot intent on establishing by force His kingdom, but as one who lived a life of humble and sacrificial service to God and his fellow human beings. This is the meekness to which Jesus calls his followers.
- Those who are unblessed, unhappy, and shut out of the kingdom are the proud, the arrogant, the unrepentant—the self-sufficient and self-righteous who see in themselves no unworthiness and feel no need for God’s help and God’s righteousness. Are you realistic about your sinfulness, are repentant of your sins, and are responsive to God in His righteousness? For meekness is necessary because it is commanded. “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility” (Zephaniah 2:3). James commands believers, “Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Those who do not have a humble spirit are not able even to listen rightly to God’s Word, much less understand and receive it.
1) Gentle is from praos, which basically means mild or soft. The term sometimes was used to describe a soothing medicine or a soft breeze. It was used of colts and other animals whose naturally wild spirits were broken by a trainer so that they could do useful work. As a human attitude it meant being gentle of spirit, meek, submissive, quiet, tenderhearted. During His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was hailed as the coming King, though He was “gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5). Paul lovingly referred to the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:1) as the pattern for his own attitude.
The essential difference between being poor in spirit and being meek, or gentle, may be that poverty in spirit focuses on our sinfulness, whereas meekness focuses on God’s holiness. The basic attitude of humility underlies both virtues. When we look honestly at ourselves, we are made humble by seeing how sinful and unworthy we are; when we look at God, we are made humble by seeing how righteous and worthy He is.
We again can see logical sequence and progression in the Beatitudes. Poverty of spirit (the first) is negative, and results in mourning (the second). Meekness (the third) is positive, and results in seeking righteousness (the fourth). Being poor in spirit causes us to turn away from ourselves in mourning, and meekness causes us to turn toward God in seeking His righteousness.
(From John MacArthur‘s New Testament Commentary)
2) What qualities are evident in people who are meek? Are you this kind of person?
- They will get angry only when God is dishonored (If they defend God, not themselves).
- will respond humbly and obediently to God’s Word.
- They will be submissive to and trust God’s will and direction for their lives. They will be willing to wait for His timing (Romans 12:1-2).
- If Jesus is Lord of their life then they will want nothing more than to love and serve Him.
- They will forgive, restore others, and make peace (Ephesians 4:2-3). Only meek people make peace and preserve unity.
- They will receive criticism without being defensive and can love those who offer them criticism.
- They will choose not to put confidence in their own abilities but put their full confidence in God (e.g. Paul).
- 1 Peter 3:3-4 says not to spend so much time beautifying yourself externally if you want to glorify God. Instead, clothe yourself with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle (meekness) and quiet spirit which is so precious to God.
3) The following is from “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” 29 Vols
ENDURING OFFENSES. (By unknown author): A gentle person neither provokes evil nor is provoked by evil. Charges of sin do not prevail against such persons insofar as they are not the cause of sin. The meek one is more content to endure an offense than to commit one. For unless one is unafraid of being offended, one cannot be without sin. For even as weeds are never lacking in a field, provokers are never lacking in the world. Therefore that person is truly gentle who, when he or she has been offended, neither does evil nor even thinks of doing it.
A PERPETUAL INHERITANCE. (By Augustine): “Inherit the earth,” I believe, means the land promised in the psalm: “Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living” (Psalms 142:5). It signifies the solidity and stability of a perpetual inheritance. The soul because of its good disposition is at rest as though in its own place, like a body on the earth, and is fed with its own food there, like a body from the earth. This is the peaceful life of the saints. The meek are those who submit to wickedness and do not resist evil but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Let the haughty therefore quarrel and contend for earthly and temporal things. But “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.” This is the land from which they cannot be expelled.
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