Meekness Towards Others

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.”

Last week we spent our time together in verse 5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” We defined meekness and then talked about it biblically in regards to meekness towards God. We are to be meek in our relationship to God. As we relate to, think about, study about, and pray to God, we are to have a mind of meekness. Meekness should rule in our relationship with God. There is no other way to properly approach God aside from with meekness. Meekness is that important.

What is meekness? Here is one way we talked about it last week - Meekness is easiness in our spirit. Meekness towards God, if we are meek towards God then we will be easy in our spirit towards 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 as 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 and I am sinful; and You are neither lowly nor sinful. That is meekness towards God.

When I say “You are in control and I am not and I am really good with that,” I don’t mean “Well, Ok, I guess I am good with whatever You are doing, or whatever You will do, like I don’t really have a choice anyway.” It’s not a giving in to God’s will out of defeat or forced surrender.

No, it’s more like an attitude of wanting what He wants and knowing that it’s the best path – an air of excitement over discovering God’s way in this and knowing He has us covered, protected, loves us and is looking out for us. It is choosing His way rather than what may appeal to our senses because we trust in Him more than we trust in ourselves; it is thinking this way, living this way even when there is pain involved.

Meekness towards God is a foundational-state attitude for all other Christian living. Not out of dread or duty but out of love and trust. If we will be meek towards God then we must also be meek towards each other, meek towards our neighbors. In fact, being meek towards our neighbors is one way that we express meekness towards God.

As Christians, as devoted Bible-believing Christians, if you are one of them, then we may often say things like, God is in control, or God has this taken care of, or God is working in all things and circumstances. From statements like that comes some comfort. These are statements that express a view of God that says He is mighty and sovereign. And knowing that He is also full of compassionate love for us, His children, is in the mix too so we find comfort in these words, in who God is.

But sometimes there is a breakdown in these thoughts when we consider our neighbors, people whom God puts in our lives. By the way who are our neighbors? Everyone we come in contact with. That is the point of the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told.

But often times there is a breakdown in our thinking when we talk about God’s loving care and even His control when we think about other people. We get sinfully angry at, disgusted with, fearful of, and give up on people. Sometimes we even think of others as being bigger than God, sort of out of His domain or control. When people act we see that as outside of God, outside of His sovereignty. And if we do see them as autonomous, then we will treat them differently than if we see others as under God’s sovereign domain and part of His sovereign, though often mysterious, will.

The only way we can be meek around others is because we are first of all meek in our relationship with God. Our meekness with our neighbors flows from how we relate to God. It is important to see that.
So in meekness, thinking of “blessed are the meek,” let’s look at what this is like as we relate to people around us, our family members, our church friends, our co-workers, and so on. How are we to relate to people? We interact with people from all sorts of angles and in varied circumstance.

How are we to act around people? How do we lead those who don’t want to be led? With what attitude do we parent our children? How do we have meaningful conversation with those who disagree with our views of Christ? How do we talk with friends who think we are too radical? With what attitude do we engage with other people? How about when someone is just down right mean and hateful, how do we respond? That is the real question, with our neighbors, all the people that you and I come into contact with: What attitude do we bring with us into those engagements? The answer: With meekness!

Before I go any further I do want to say that much of what I will give you today, I do so with the help of a couple of men and their writings. We will only really scratch the surface on this topic, but if you want more let me recommend two books: First, a book called, “The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit” by Matthew Henry. And secondly, “The Beatitudes” by Thomas Watson. Both of these men do an excellent job of unfolding the truths about meekness. So if you want more, and I hope you do, these are two excellent resources to turn to.

Meekness towards others is the character of a gracious soul. When we enter a room what is it that we bring with us? Do we enter a room with a spirit of grace? Meekness is a grace. It is a grace through which the Spirit of God works to moderate our passions that may otherwise rule our thoughts and actions. Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:23. The 17th century Theologian Thomas Watson said, “By nature the heart is like a troubled sea, casting forth the foam of anger and wrath. Now meekness calms the passions. It sits as moderator in the soul, quieting and giving check to its distempered motions.”

Meekness means, then, we are not easily provoked to anger. A meek person is not easily provoked. If an insult is hurled at us, it does not take hold of us and demand of our spirit a like kind response. Watson says “A meek spirit like wet tinder, will not easily take fire.” What he means is that one who has a meek spirit in their interactions with others is not primed and ready to attack or to respond sinfully with out-of-control emotions and feelings. He is not one who pounces on his friend or his enemy. And I need to say, this is true in the meek person’s inner man too not just in what comes out as actions. Some people have an ability to look meek and kind and gentle, but on the inside they may be like a bomb ready to explode. Some may speak kind words out of their mouths but harbor hatefulness in the heart. Meekness does not discriminate between inward thoughts and outward actions. Meek is meek both inside and out.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 38:12-13:

Psalm 38:12 Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. 13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth.

The Psalmist is describing those who are intentionally trying to hurt him, and are planning his fall and demise. But he refuses to respond in like kind or hastily in anger. It is like he does not hear it and refuses to participate in the verbal attacks.

People may attack and speak all kinds of evil against us personally but meekness helps us to hold our tongue, like a bridle in the mouth. It helps us to bear with others. And so meekness helps us to moderate our responses to temper our emotions, to think prior to expressing what may be our natural tendencies in our flesh.

Meekness is a fruit in our lives that counters sinful anger. Anger is about making judgements. We judge something to be wrong or sinful or unjust or unfair, or not according to our desires in some way. Anger starts with a judgement and can move very quickly to an action. Sometimes there is like a split second between the judgement we make and our response to that judgment. If someone hits you in the face, just wham, for some of us, a like response could follow really quickly. If a hurtful comment is directed at us, we may, really with little or no thought, really pay that person back with something meant to cause emotional pain.

A meek person does well to wait, to think, to consider what has happened carefully before acting, taking time to formulate an appropriate, biblical response. To do this is to recognize some important things: First, that we are not omniscient, only God is. We are not all-knowing. We don’t have perfect understanding. Our judgement may not take in all the facts, all of what is true. Waiting forces us to act more rationally, to think, to gather more information, to ask questions, and to possibly seek counsel from others and from God’s Word.

James 1:19 says:

James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

In meekness we can realize that our judgments are not always correct. We can remember that we are often very biased in our thinking. We don’t always see things as they truly are right away. Meekness leads us to humility in our thinking, in our judgements, quieting those restless, strong emotions, clearing a way for sober mindedness.

Nehemiah is a great example of one who exercised meekness in his response to the nobles. Nehemiah was a leader, a leader who, in chapter 5 of Nehemiah, saw his people being taken advantage of. The people were being treated very unfairly, they were being oppressed terribly. He had to do something because of this injustice. Here is what we read about this, about Nehemiah’s response:

Nehemiah 5:6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials.

He was angry at the injustice. But while angry, what did he do, “took counsel with myself.” In this case, his anger did not supersede meekness. Before he spoke, before he boldly spoke to express his displeasure, he paused, he hesitated and he retreated into his own mind and thought about what was happening and what a proper response would be. He did end up rebuking them as he should have. But he was not out of control nor was he rashly simply giving them a piece of his mind. Meekness urges us to give it more time, to consider our judgements, to consider our words.

A quick flare of anger, if you think about it, is like a man who may be trying to master another person, to control them with his words, when he has failed to master himself.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Calmness of spirit, peace of God, meekness of the soul.

James 3:17-18 says this:

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Meekness towards others flows from a meekness towards God.

As we walk on this earth as Christians, God has a plan for us. His plan for the believer is to further conform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are here to walk as He walked. How did Jesus walk on this earth? With what attitude did He approach life?

2 Corinthians 10:1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.

I want to do something a little unusual for us this morning that I hope will encourage us in the way of meekness. I want us to look at a particular portion of John’s gospel and I want you to do something with it. I’m going to read it and what I would like you to do is to mark either mentally or with a pen or pencil or if you are taking notes make note of verses which clearly demonstrate meekness on Jesus part – meekness in His relationship with the Father and meekness in His interaction with men.

Now remember, Meekness exercised towards the Father would be seen in total, complete submission to God’s will, full trust in Him. Meekness towards others would also be a demonstration of trust in the Father but will also be seen as being tempered, calmness, and a quiet spirit. Meekness towards others is not a quick, angry, out-of-control response, right? Does everyone understand the assignment? Here we are giving homework right here in church!

John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

I’ll not do so, but you could go on all the way through chapter 19 and see time and time again our Lord showing us what it looks like, what it is to be meek.

Was Jesus meek? As he was meek what did this show? It showed trust in God, submission to God, a desire to obey the Father. He had all kinds of opportunity to lash out, to put others in their place, to set them straight on many things, but His aim was to trust in and submit to His Father and in that He was perfectly successful.

In spite of all the lies told, the deceit of others, the false accusations and the physical abuse, Jesus was able to keep His eye on the goal and do what was pleasing to His Father. His life was a demonstration of meekness. He had the power to put each one in his rightful place with His words and with His strength. But those things did not rule Him. He was not ever out of control. He was meek.

Do our lives demonstrate the same trust? Do our lives demonstrate meekness? How do we attain meekness? Look often at the life of Christ, as we have seen is our example. And pray earnestly that God will increase His grace of meekness in your life. He is the God of all grace. He is the giver of gifts.

The meek will inherit the earth.

One day, every believer, those who are indwelt by the Spirit of God, those who have been given the fruits of the Spirit will inherit the earth. The earth is for the meek, the new earth is for the meek. Christians will inherit the earth.