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The Sermon on the Mount
“Meekness Not Weakness”
As we continue in our study through the Sermon on the Mount we’ll be looking at one of the most misunderstood of the beatitudes, and that’s the attitude of meekness.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5 NKJV)
A few eyebrows were more than likely raised when Jesus said this because it goes against the religious thought of the day, which was that the only way to inherit the land was to overthrow Rome, not by being meek, which is basically the same today. When was the last time you heard someone say, “To get ahead in life be meek.”
Meekness isn’t a characteristic that’s promoted today. In fact, the world’s philosophy is quite opposite. The world says, “The more assertive your are, the more success you’ll have.”
And so the words of Jesus ran not only contrary to the teaching of that day as it does today.
When we think about what Jesus said about the meek inheriting the earth it sounds ridiculous, and that’s because the word “meek” has lost its true meaning. Today it’s used as a slur. It’s the same as calling somebody “milk toast,” or a “spineless jellyfish.” We say someone is as meek as a mouse.
But meekness is actually a by-product of someone who is poor in spirit and who is mourning over their sinful condition, or the first two beatitudes.
Our poverty of spirit causes us to see our own unworthiness before God. By being poor in spirit we’re able to see that were totally dependent upon God and His grace. And as we begin to mourn over our lost and sinful condition this is what produces godly sorrow that leads us to repentance and a receptive heart before God.
This is what brings out true meekness in a person.
So what is meekness? Let me just say that meekness is not weakness. Did you know that the Bible only calls two men meek? They’re Jesus and Moses, and neither were pushovers. So what’s meekness? Here’s a good definition.
Meekness is Strength Under Control
In the Greek it refers to a wild horse that’s been tamed, or medicine that tames a fever. Someone who was meek is then someone who has great strength under restraint.
Look at Moses
“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3 KJV)
Moses never compromised God’s principles of righteousness, nor did he compromise with evil. Instead he was meek because he was sensitive to the will of God.
Look now at Jesus
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 KJV)
Yet Jesus made a whip and drove out the moneychangers, John 2:13-16. You see, Jesus was meek towards His heavenly Father, not man, and so He prayed, “Not my will, but Your will be done,” Luke 22:41.
Meekness is strength under control, which means that meekness is an attitude of the heart. It’s an attitude of submission to God. It describes someone who is crushed and mourns as their heart is broken by sin, and they gladly submit to God acknowledging their indebtedness to Him.
And so if meekness is strength under control, how is meekness defined by our actions?
A meek person is someone who instead of ripping someone else apart, they’re gentle and understanding, gently leading those who are young in the faith.
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1 NIV)
When someone blows it, instead of saying, “I told you so,” gently restore them to spiritual health. If not, then you may be falling into the sin of pride and of a judgmental spirit.
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 NIV)
The one thing that angered Jesus was the self-righteous attitudes of the Jewish leaders as they always seemed to be judging others rather than sitting in judgment on themselves and they hypocrisy.
We can’t please everyone in this life, so a meek person is tender without surrendering what is right. One test of spiritual maturity is how we handle disagreeable people, those who irritate us, who contradict us at every turn, and who like to get into arguments.
We have three alternatives when it comes to confrontation. We can retreat in fear, attack in anger, or respond in love. Meekness responds in love without compromising convictions.
We can be tender without surrender. Meekness isn’t passivity, nor is it giving in. It’s not reacting in anger and blowing others away in our spiritual superiority.
Look at God’s wisdom regarding responding with those who disagree with us.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NKJV)
When someone has an argumentative spirit, it indicates an ego or pride problem. But Jesus in this beatitude says that a meek person is blessed because they can be tender without surrender. Meekness is being able to disagree agreeably. Meekness is being able to walk hand in hand even with those you may not see eye to eye with.
And so when others disagree, we can be passive and run, aggressive and fight, or meek and respond in love without compromising our beliefs.
The Apostle Paul gives meekness as one of the qualifications for spiritual leadership
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition.” (2 Timothy 2:24-25a NKJV)
Spiritual leaders are not argumentative. Instead they gently instruct and believe that it’s the Lord who changes a person’s heart, not their arguments.
Meekness is a teachable spirit. Meek people are eager to learn. Meek people don’t pretend they have all the answers The Apostle James said,
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19 NIV)
This verse tells us how to keep our temper under control, which is the meaning of meekness, power under control. If we’re to be quick to listen and a whole lot slower to open our mouths then our tempers will never be an issue.
We need to use our ears a whole lot more than our mouths, which may be why God gave us two ears and one mouth.
How are you in the area of change? Are you more open or closed to new ideas? Are you open or closed to change? Do you say, “This is the way it’s always been done.” A meek person is teachable not unreachable.
“He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” (Proverbs 13:18 NIV)
One person said it this way, “I’d rather change my mind and succeed than have it my own way and fail.”
A meek person takes the initiative. The Apostle Paul said,
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17, 21 NIV)
We’re all going to get hurt, and meekness involves how we’re going to respond. Our natural desire is to retaliate and get even, but to retaliate is to react. But when we respond with forgiveness then we’ve taken the initiative.
John Powell tells a story of how he and a friend were walking down the street when his friend stopped to buy a paper. The man selling the paper was grumpy and discourteous. John’s friend responded, “Have a nice day.”
When Powell asked his friend if the man always was that rude, and he said, “Yes.” Powell then asked if he was always that nice to him, which his friend said, “Yes.” And when asked why his friend responded, “I’m not going to let one man ruin my whole day.”
Booker T. Washington, who faced prejudice his whole life, said, “I will never allow another man to control or ruin my life by making me hate him.”
Again consider Moses. His own family criticized him for marrying Zipporah. It was an interracial marriage. So they challenged Moses’ leadership. But Moses didn’t say a thing to defend himself; instead he was content letting God handle the matter. God caused Moses sister, Merriam, to become leprous.
As a meek man Moses prayed for his sister’s healing and God heard and healed.
Meekness is the ability to handle hurt without retaliation.
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:23 NKJV)
Who controls our emotions? Meek people are self-controlled, controlling their reactions toward life and life’s hurts in and through the power of God.
When Jesus quoted this beatitude He’s quoting from what it says in Psalms
“But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11 NKV)
Meekness allows its possessor to be content with whatever they have. It’s such a spirit of meekness that the Apostle Paul exhibited.
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV)
So what we can conclude as to what it means to be meek? It means we’re in control of our emotions. They control the situation and are not controlled by it. They are no longer the victims. It’s as if Jesus were saying,
“Blessed are those who control their reactions, who are not demanding or judgmental, but who are teachable and have their emotions under control no matter what the situation may be.”
The Bible says that God doesn’t make us timid, nor does it give us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7. And so the secret of meekness is allowing the Holy Spirit to fill our lives completely.
Meekness is power under God’s control.
A verse that will help us keep this overall attitude of meekness is found in Peter’s first letter.
“You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” (1 Peter 3:4 NLT)
And so meek people are gentle not judgmental. They are tender without surrendering what is right and true. They are teachable not unreachable. And they will take the initiative and forgive rather than retaliate.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study