History is full of men who led armies for the single purpose of trying to rule the world. Napoleon Bonaparte, the French General who at one time conquered and ruled over 70 million people, Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who dominated much of South America in the 1500’s, Julius Caesar who led the armies of the Roman Republic to victories across Africa and Europe, Alexander the Great, the great leader of the Greek empire whose empire spread across continents. The list in the history books goes on and on of men who wanted to be the greatest by trying to defeat all their enemies and conquer the world.
As we continue our study of the Beatitudes, we are once again hit in the face of how radically different the call to live in the kingdom of God is. Guess who Jesus says will inherit the earth? Not the strong, powerful, aggressive, and proud, but the meek. What? The meek inherit the earth? How can that be?
We have talked about if we are a new creation then that means we belong to a new kingdom. When Jesus preached this sermon, he was talking to the Jewish people, who at the time were under the authority of the Romans because the Roman army had defeated the nation of Israel. The Jews wanted Jesus to be their general and march troops out to defeat Rome. Jesus said no. You have it all wrong. That is not what kind of kingdom Jesus is talking about. The Beatitudes tell us what His kingdom is all about. First, you must be poor in spirit. Then mourn because you are sorry for your sins. You see the 10 commandments, you see the call that Jesus said we are to love God, love our neighbor and even love our enemies, and we should think I cannot do that. I am helpless to obey and love like that. That is exactly where you need to be in order to move on to the third beatitude because being meek is moving from a deep concern about my heart to a deep concern about others.
Here are some examples of people in the Bible showing meekness. First, Abraham. He let a younger man, his nephew Lot, choose first. To choose which land he wanted to live in. Even when Lot chose what appeared to be the best land, Abraham did not complain or argue. Abraham showed tremendous meekness. What about King David? When he knew he was going to be the king and Saul treated him horribly, he revered and honored Saul and did not hurt him. Or the prophet Jeremiah? An invading army was coming and Jeremiah was preaching an unpopular message while other prophets were telling the people what they wanted to hear. Jeremiah did not change his message nor did he fight back even though people hated him for what he was saying.
Here are some lessons about meekness we can learn from these examples. First, meekness is not natural. We are not born with it. Do you think David was naturally a meek man? He killed wild animals with his bare hands yet he did not harm King Saul when he was threatened over and over again. Second, meekness is not being lazy or avoiding hard things, or being nice to everyone so no one gets mad at you. In the book of Acts, Stephen showed tremendous meekness as he was willing to die for what he believed in but he did not change what he said even though he knew he would be stoned because his strength came from God and he was willing to die for what was right, regardless of what men did to him. Third, meekness is seen on the outside by having control over your lips and mouth. To not say the things we feel like saying.
How often do you say something back to someone else after they did something that you didn’t like? How often do you argue? Talk back to your parents? Talk back to your teachers? How often do you say mean and sarcastic things to classmates? How often do you call people names? A meek person has control over their mouth. They have control over their mouth because they have first taken the time to be poor of spirit. If you are proud and not poor, if you think very highly of yourself, then it follows that you will defend yourself at every turn, and you will make excuses when someone points out something you did wrong or needs to be fixed.
Ask yourself, am I a meek person? Do you care deeply about what others think or say about you? When you hear your name, do you have to know what was said about you? When you do something, like buy new clothes, or get a haircut, or in the case for some boys don’t get a haircut, do you think to yourself, I wonder what other people will think. The meek that will inherit the earth show the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control, but they do it even when no one else seems to be doing it. Even when classmates or friends are telling them to do the wrong thing. A meek person does not cave into peer pressure. What God thinks of them is way more important than what anyone else thinks of them.
The best example of meekness is Jesus Himself. Even when he was being beaten, whipped, and lied about, He showed how to be meek. He was not wimpy or did what would be easy or say what people wanted Him to say, He did what was right but He also did it with self-control over his lips and actions, and ultimately everything He did or did not do was out of love. Here is how one of his disciples describes Jesus in I Peter.
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:“Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled (abused and insulted), did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously”
We should follow in his steps. Throughout the day we should be asking ourselves what would Jesus do? What would the meek do? When you commit your ways to the righteous God, you inherit the earth. No, you don’t get to be world emperor but you get to be a part of the kingdom of God and that is far, far better than any earthly empire. If you want to be a meek person, then you must stop arguing, stop trying to have the last word, stop saying mean and unkind things, stop trying to always get your way. The really hard part is you can’t change these things yourself. The only way you can truly change is by first being poor in spirit and mourning the sin and selfishness that hangs on inside and run to Jesus. A great place to start is by being thankful. Praising God for everything He has done for you and for me.