Matthew 5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Today our focus will be on Matthew 5, verse 5, “Blessed (happy) are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Blessed are the meek. We will need to spend some time today thinking about this word meek. What is meekness? That is a very important question. And we must answer that question before we get to other questions like: What does it look like to walk in meekness? And how do I get to a place of meekness?
Let me begin by giving a brief definition of meekness just to get us off to a good start in our minds but really this whole message will be given with the intent of helping us to really grasp its meaning.
Meekness is easiness in our spirit. Meekness toward God, if we are meek toward God then we will be easy in our spirit toward Him or you could say we will live in quiet submission to all of His will. That means we live in complete submission to Him as he has revealed His will to us in His word and as it unfolds to us in life circumstantially. Meek, it is like, Ok God, you are big and great and sovereign and loving and merciful and just and righteous and all wise, you are my King and I will bow down to you in all things you tell me and in all things you bring my way. You are in control and I am not, and I am really good with that because I am lowly, poor in spirit. I am sinful and you are neither lowly nor sinful. That is meekness toward God.
But we also need to understand meekness toward others. We are to be meek before God in our relationship with Him but also be meek toward our fellow man.
Titus 3:2 says, “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Meekness is a quality that we are to have toward God and in relationship with other people.
Meekness has to do with a taming of the soul, accommodating in the soul. Meekness has been a word used of taming wild animals, of domesticating what was wild.
God takes us through many things that help us to understand biblical truth at times. Our classroom is often times life itself. We are always in school, always being taught by God in an environment that is best suited for that teaching. Some of those things are pleasant and some not so much!
About 20 years ago, my grandfather wanted to give us a gift. My grandfather was a real cowboy. He grew up in the country doing things like farming, ranching and horse training, old style horse training. When he was about 85 years old he decided that our boys needed horse. My grandfather was also cheap. When he went looking for a horse he started by looking at the price, and to him that was fine because he believed he could turn just about any horse into a good horse. At this time our kids, our boys ranged in age from 2 to 11, our youngest was not yet born. My granddad found just the right horse. He knew it was the right one because it was only $150. It was a 4-year-old wild mustang mare that had been captured from a wild herd by the government on the CA/NV border. She was brought to TX and auctioned off to a man who could no longer afford to feed her, so with that, my Granddad snatched her up and we picked her up and brought her home. When we got her home she had a halter and we tied her up to a pole, like a telephone pole. She quickly and fearfully rebelled against being restrained and broke the halter, nearly bringing the light pole down and soon after went through two barbed wire fences and one hot wire fence to get away from us and regain her freedom. She was acting according to her nature. She was wild. When my granddad left he looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about this; as soon as I can get back over I’ll get on her and tame her for you and the boys so they can ride her!” If you knew grandfather, you knew he meant it.
He was an 85-year-old man in an 85-year-old body with the mind of a young capable cowboy. I was concerned. I was concerned in two ways: First for my grandfather – I was no cowboy but I was pretty sure it was not a good idea for him to mount that horse. Secondly, I was concerned for my boys having a wild horse in the pasture where they regularly play.
My solution? I’ll gentle this wild horse quickly before my granddad gets back and before anyone gets hurt.
I didn’t know what I was doing, but I bought a full set of VHS tapes (this in the 90’s) from a famous horse trainer. I began watching them and going out as often as I could to try to implement what I had learned. This was not a really big horse but compared to me she was big. I would get in a round pen with her and think, she could just run right over me if she wanted too and I could not physically stop her.
But I followed the program and it was really amazing. This big strong animal began to respond just like the trainer said she would. And after many hours she began to submit to me. I was really amazed. She didn’t have to but she did. She got to where instead of running from me she would willingly come to me. Even in an open pasture she would come to me, and when she got to me, she would lower her head as a sign of submission.
This was meekness: Quiet submission, a powerful animal willingly submitting to me. Meekness is an easiness of spirit. Meekness is a willingness to submit to the will of another. It is a taming of the spirit. Going from a wild spirit, breaking halters, bringing down big poles, tearing through fences, to a gentle submissive, tame spirit, lowering her head, responding to my commands – a transition toward meekness.
Today I want us to focus on meekness in our relationship with God, and next week, Lord willing, we will look at meekness in relation to our fellow man, meekness as we relate to each other.
We must first of all, as children in God’s kingdom, we are to be meek in our relationship with God. Blessed are the meek, happy are the meek. Meekness to God is a quiet submission of the soul to His entire will. Let me repeat that: Meekness to God is a quiet submission to of the soul to His entire will. In this definition then, there is the absence of fighting against His will. There is an absence of striving against His will.
What is God’s will? Or, how do we know His will so that we can be sure we are not fighting or striving against it? We know His will through His word and through His providence or through the circumstances He sends our way.
So to be meek before God is to submit to His will, that is, to first to submit to His word, the Bible. Are you meek? Well, are you? Am I quietly submitting to His word? Are we, in our hearts, bowing down to His every command? Do we eagerly search His word for instruction so that we can say “Yes! I will do and think, Lord, as you say!”
Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble (meek) his way.
God instructs the meek, those who stand ready to submit to Him and do His will as He has revealed.
It is like young Samuel as he lay in his bed and heard the voice of God in 1 Samuel 3:10, “And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant hears.’” Ready to hear, ready to respond, ready to submit to God’s will.
Or like Joshua a commander of men, a bold, strong leader.
Joshua 5:13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
A man ready to hear God’s word and to obey it.
Paul did similarly after having met Christ on the road to Damascus when he said in Acts 9:6. This move toward obedience, a willing and meek heart is what Paul describes in Romans 6:17 of those who are converted in Christ:
Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed…”
Meekness is when we, upon hearing God’s Word, reading it or hearing it taught, we embrace it as God’s will for us and submit whole-heartedly to it. We recognize that it comes to us from God, our Father, and we receive it. Our hearts are tame toward him, not wild and rebellious.
Jesus says, “Happy are the meek.”
We just get this so backward sometimes don’t we? We think happiness comes as we sneak, for ourselves, some pleasure outside of God’s written commands and instructions to us. We think, don’t we sometimes, that God is holding out on us; He has not given us what will make us happy so we hope He will look the other way for a moment; and we go after illicit pleasure, thinking it will deliver happiness. And if or when we do this we are saying, I will control my own spirit, I will make my own way, I will do my own thing. And we break that halter and charge through the barbed wire fence eventually making our way back with cuts and bruises. We often learn the hard way.
And yet God has told us, straight forwardly told us, through the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Happy are the meek.
Not only will the meek submit from the heart to God’s written Word, His revealed Word to us, but also submit to His works of providence around us.
By His providence I mean we will submit under circumstances, both easy and difficult, that He allows into our lives. This is meekness toward God.
“We live with cards we are dealt because we know who deals them.” - John Piper
Meekness is not to be a state of mind when all seems well around us but also when life seems hard and even when darkness surrounds us. Is God not also sovereign during hard times? Is God still on His throne when life seems hard? Is God loving and wise even when we are not pleased with our current circumstances?
It was in meekness that Job after enduring great loss, loss beyond really our comprehension, when he said in Job 1:21-22:
Job 1:21 “And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
A quieted, meek, submissive heart during a time of grief and confusion, Job here did not allow what had happened in his life to throw off what He knew to be true about God and God’s right to rule as King over him, over his life. Even in the darkness, he bowed low before God.
Or David in Psalm 56:
Psalm 56:1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; 2 my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? 5 All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. 7 For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God! 8 You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
David was honest about his troubles, open about His circumstances, they were hard, he was oppressed by his enemies but in it all His trust remained steadfastly firmly in his God. He understood God’s place in his life and in life’s circumstances so he could say, “I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” And “This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise.”
In meekness David’s spirit was quieted, calm and assured, set upon God.
Even when we don’t know what will happen, what the next bend in the road might bring, in meekness we can be assured that all things will work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Because He has it covered we can remain meek.
What is the alternative? The alternative is to go to war with God and in our heart accuse Him of evil. That is the alternative. To say, God, I know better, you messed up, accusing Him of being someone other than who He is and attributing wrong to His actions. The absence of meekness toward God is to be proud and demanding, stiff necked and stubborn toward Him.
Do we think that will bring us happiness? Of course it won’t and we know that in our sane moments! The problem is how we act in times of insanity.
Don’t you love Jesus’ Words to his disciples as He washed their feet? Peter said, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” And Jesus said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
So much is happening around us at any given moment that we cannot put it all together and make sense of it. I don’t understand most of what goes on in my life. Why? We can constantly ask why this, why that, why? We can be consumed and eaten up asking why? Can’t we?
If that wild Mustang had the mental capacity too, I bet she would have been consumed with asking why is this crazy man making me go round and round in this pen until I can’t hardly breathe? What is the point of going one more time around in this pen, she might have wondered if she could.
Why this in my life, why that? We don’t always know but we do know that God is alive and active and working in the circumstances. Yes, even in your real life right now circumstances. The question for us is, will we in meekness acknowledge that and submit quietly to our Lord in them no matter what? He can change them if it be His will and better for us.
Blessed are the meek, those who recognize God’s hand around them.
Mathew Henry has said, “Meekness is the silent submission of the soul to the providence of God concerning us.”
As we go through this week, can we commit together to trust the Lord in meekness? He has you covered, He is at work, His plan is wise and good.
My grandfather never made it back to work with the horse he bought for us. He took a trip down to Houston and while there had an accident and went to be with the Lord. We gentled the Mustang but never rode her. Our plans did not unfold as we thought or even had hoped that they would. But God faithfully taught us all through that story about meekness and submission, what it looks like and what it does not look like.
Our place, our role in God’s kingdom is to be one of meekness.
Meekness to God is a quiet submission of the soul to His entire will.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherent the earth.