Blessed Are the Meek
by Sarah Phillips
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Mt 5: 5 (NIV)
I used to have a strong dislike for the word “meek.” It brings me back more than a decade to a defining moment during my sophomore year of high school.
I was a shy teenager who had stepped outside of her comfort zone by enrolling in several theater classes, including a class on “behind the scenes” theater productions. This should have been the easiest of all the courses for my sensitive nature. But my instructor, while delegating roles for the Spring production of Peter Pan, proved me wrong when she voiced her choice of stage manager like this:
“I’ve chosen Melissa because I need someone with a strong personality – someone who isn’t meek, like Sarah.”
Of course, I only drove her point home when I didn’t stick up for myself. I spent years after that scene developing assertiveness, determined to prove that Sarah was not meek. Like this teacher, I associated meekness with weakness and both were traits that needed to be eradicated if I was going to get anywhere in life.
At least that’s what I thought until I found that dreaded word jumping off the pages of scripture at me in the Gospel of Matthew. There it was, one of the first things Jesus says in his famous Sermon on the Mount.
Our deacon offered some thoughts on this verse that helped put things in perspective for me. He shared that it’s in the Sermon on the Mount where we see Jesus begin to expand on His true purpose – and to the disappointment of many, He was not going to be an earthly king bestowing power and prestige on His people, not just yet. Instead, God’s plan for mankind included an interior transformation of souls for the sake of an eternal kingdom. To properly prepare us for this kingdom, God rejected earthly methods of acquiring power in favor of the healing that comes with merciful love.
It is God’s mercy that changes our hearts from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. It’s Christ’s humility, His lowliness, that beckons us into a relationship with Him. And ultimately, it was Christ’s willingness to give up earthly glory that opened the door for us to share in His eternal glory.
Now, as much as I would like earthly power, He asks us to “learn from him.” As our souls find rest in God, He can continue His redemptive work through us as we display these same “weaker” virtues to the world.
This isn’t to say God lacks power or that Christians should throw out virtues like courage. I think sometimes cultivating traits like meekness and humility are trickier than learning boldness because we can easily tip the scales too far and become passive. It’s a difficult balance, but a necessary one if we want to reflect Christ to a hurting world.
Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle
A secret and yet no secret
Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:12–16
The believer has three principles, the body, the soul, and the indwelling spirit, which is none other than the Holy Spirit of God abiding in the faithful continually. Just such a relationship as the soul bears to the body does the spirit bear to the soul; for as the body without the soul is dead, so the soul without the spirit is dead in trespasses and sins; as the body without the soul is dead naturally, so the soul without the spirit is dead spiritually. And, contrary to the general teaching of modern theologians, we do insist upon it that the Spirit of God not only renovates the faculties which were there already, but does actually implant a new principle—that he does not merely set to rights a machinery which had before gone awry, but implants a new life which could not have been there. It is not a waking up of dormant faculties—it is the infusion of a supernatural spirit to which the natural heart is an utter stranger. Now, we think the first verse, to a great extent, sets forth the secret and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit in the creation of the new man in the soul. Into this secret no eye of man can look. The inner life in the Christian may well be compared to an enclosed garden—to a spring shut up—to a fountain sealed. But the second verse sets forth the manifest effects of grace, for no sooner is that life given than it begins to show itself. No sooner is the mystery of righteousness in the heart, than, like the mystery of iniquity, it ‘doth already work.’ It cannot lie still; it cannot be idle; it must not rest; but, as God is ever active, so this God-like principle is active too; thus you have a picture of the outer life, proceeding from the inner.
For meditation: Whenever God does a work on the inside, it will result in works on the outside. Otherwise the obvious conclusion is that it is not a work of God in the first place. ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.’ (James 2:26) Saving faith is a secret and yet no secret.
Streams in the Desert – January 26
I have begun to give;…begin to possess (Deuteronomy 2:31).
A great deal is said in the Bible about waiting for God. The lesson cannot be too strongly enforced. We easily grow impatient of God’s delays. Much of our trouble in life comes out of our restless, sometimes reckless, haste. We cannot wait for the fruit to ripen, but insist on plucking it while it is green. We cannot wait for the answers to our prayers, although the things we ask for may require long years in their preparation for us. We are exhorted to walk with God; but ofttimes God walks very slowly. But there is another phase of the lesson. God often waits for us.
We fail many times to receive the blessing He has ready for us, because we do not go forward with Him. While we miss much good through not waiting for God, we also miss much through over-waiting. There are times when our strength is to sit still, but there are also times when we are to go forward with a firm step.
There are many Divine promises which are conditioned upon the beginning of some action on our part. When we begin to obey, God will begin to bless us. Great things were promised to Abraham, but not one of them could have been obtained by waiting in Chaldea. He must leave home, friends, and country, and go out into unknown paths and press on in unfaltering obedience in order to receive the promises. The ten lepers were told to show themselves to the priest, and “as they went they were cleansed.” If they had waited to see the cleansing come in their flesh before they would start, they would never have seen it. God was waiting to cleanse them; and the moment their faith began to work, the blessing came.
When the Israelites were shut in by a pursuing army at the Red Sea, they were commanded to “Go forward.” Their duty was no longer one of waiting, but of rising up from bended knees and going forward in the way of heroic faith. They were commanded to show their faith at another time by beginning their march over the Jordan while the river ran to its widest banks. The key to unlock the gate into the Land of Promise they held in their own hands, and the gate would not turn on its hinges until they had approached it and unlocked it. That key was faith.
We are set to fight certain battles. We say we can never be victorious; that we never can conquer these enemies; but, as we enter the conflict, One comes and fights by our side, and through Him we are more than conquerors. If we had waited, trembling and fearing, for our Helper to come before we would join the battle, we should have waited in vain. This would have been the over-waiting of unbelief. God is waiting to pour richest blessings upon you. Press forward with bold confidence and take what is yours. “I have begun to give, begin to possess.”
–J. R. Miller