The Beatitudes: Blessed are the Meek
In the beatitudes, Jesus presents blessings that are available to the one that would accept that their own blessedness, their transformation from injury and hurt to healing and relief, requires they first pursue and take on-board some healing attitudes of faith.
Often meekness is presented as an attitude we have toward God, defined as a temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good. Accepting this, we don't dispute with, resist, struggle or contend with him; rather we submit.
That is true and essential for a full understanding and practice of meekness.
But I want to focus on meekness as it relates to one another.
For of the two, God and man, it is easier for me to exercise meekness toward a God I know has my best interests at heart, than it is toward another person who may be as broken as I am.
To be honest, I struggle with meekness; real meekness. I find it easy enough to be mild mannered and present a humble enough disposition, but there is a pride in me that too often will raise its head when confronted by another persons critique.
Just ask my wife. How carefully she has to tread when situations arise that cause her to question my motives, judgements, words or behaviour. More often than I care to recall, I will get my back up. Rather than listen,consider and determine to do better, I just get annoyed.
The problem is not with my wife--as much as I'd like to blame her. Nor is it with others. The problem is with me. Bottom line, I simply don't like it being suggested that I am anything but having-it-all-together and praiseworthy. Therefore to bring to light anything to the contrary is subconsciously unsettling, to the point that I will often fight back to protect the fragility of my foolish ego.
Maybe, for some of you, that confession also rings true.
Maybe, like me, you wonder about your own life, how mature you would be as a person if you'd been open enough to receive all the help that was available to you in the loving, honest reflections of others; to be able to receive challenging reflections (constructive criticisms) without defending ourselves or punishing the messenger.
How human it is, that we stand ever eager to voice our own opinions of others in the form of gossip, but get our back up at anything directed at us that threatens our security, our self confidence, our image.
Yet genuine healing, Jesus says, requires that the life-wounded acknowledge their own resistance to others. Whether that be others insights regarding them, accountability toward others, or just asking for help.
Sometimes the hardest thing is to acknowledge our need for others, and to lay aside the lies of our own pride and independence.
If the epitome of pride is an attitude that will accept only praise and seek only self elevation, that attitude is most plainly seen in its refusal to yield to others or seek their help; especially in regard our faults.
On the other hand, if the epitome of humility is the attitude that accepts the truth about oneself, it is revealed most fully in the meekness with which it yields to others and accepts their help.
Meekness, then, is the outward expression of a humble heart. It's what others see of Jesus' work of grace in me. It says to God, “Direct my steps Lord, for it is not in my power to direct my own.” It says to other Christians, “Help me walk, I need the support of those that walk the same path.” It is a humility built upon the fact of our own frailty, but cemented in the foundation of Gods grace.
A.W. Tozer once wrote,
The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority.
Rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, of more importance than angels.
In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values.
Meekness, then, is what results as we surrender any pretence to establish or defend our own righteousness before God and before each other, and allow God to establish it for us.
And, at times, God may choose to use others to bring into the light those things about ourselves that rest not in God's righteousness, but in self-righteousness. And on those occasions where God uses others to bring something about us out of darkness and into the light, we should heed James' words, be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Another word for meekness in this context is submission.
Submission is not a popular word in our culture. People don't like passages in the bible that talk about submission; young submit to the old; wives submit to their husbands.
1 Peter 5:5 even reads
Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
That passage clearly tells us that the healing grace of God is generously provided for those that are meek in their relationship and dealings with others. Notice that if does not say, meek in their relationship with God, but with their brethren. That's because the measure of one's humility before God is proportional to ones meekness toward the members of God's family. Just as the love of God is seen in the love of brethren [1 John 4:20]
God takes personally our dealings with one another. As Matt 25:40 says, Whatever you do to the least of these,... you do it to me”
Do you want to be humble before God and inherit all the blessings that he has prepared for you? Then, as Peter said, submit yourself to your brother and sisters in Christ, and God's healing grace will be given to you.
But acknowledge that submission is not only about serving them, it is also about accepting the service they can provide you.
Of the more practical ways we submit to one another is in acknowledging how others can help us grow. I submit to you, because you bless my growth in Christ.
That may raise a few eyebrows. Not least for the question it raises: “Do I really need others to grow in Christ?”
You may be tempted to say “No”, however consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians 4:15-16
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
I like the way that translation uses the word healthy. We can only be a healthy body, when we work together for mutual growth. When I do my part to help you grow and, just as importantly, allowing you to do your part in helping me grow.
One of the reason's meekness [submissive] can be absent within the church, is when no need is acknowledged.
After-all, people will not submit to God until they honestly accept their need for him. Likewise, we will fail to develop a manner of meekness amongst us, until we honestly accept our need for one another.
Christ has placed you in the body to help me. Christ has placed me in the body to help you.
When Christ's body works together in this way, it becomes, like the human body, enabled to heal and grow.
Illness soon enters the body when parts no longer work in synergy together, so too the church.
Healing is a process that has a beginning and a completion. Our healing began the moment we took on Christ, as 1 Peter 2:24 says, ‘by his wounds we have been healed.’
And his healing grace will continue to work in our lives until that day, as Paul said in Philippians 3:21, when Christ 'will transform our lowly bodies that they might be conformed to his glorious body.'
In the interim, however, while we await that transformation, we need to fully submit to Christ’s healing work in us. Humbly, MEEKLY, allowing him to change us from the inside out.
And, as we've seen, central to to that healing process is the church. In comparing the church to the human body, Paul paints a good analogy of what can happen when members of the body meekly submit to one another, and what can happen when they don't.
Jesus preached the beatitudes between Capernaum and Tabgha. These biblical locations are located somewhere about the modern-day Sea of Galilee.
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