Blessed Are The Meek, For They Shall Inherit The Earth

“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, more important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything.”  – A.W. Tozer

The first beatitude—being “poor in spirit”—is about recognizing our insignificance compared to God on a very personal level. The second beatitude is about mourning for sin and its many devastating effects. Together, these two beatitudes set the stage for the third: meekness.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Mathew 5:5 ESV) A bunch of meek people gaining control of the earth? Seems unlikely. Most people believe the strong will inherit the earth. Here’s the thing for us who are Jesus’s followers: Jesus took time in His limited earthly ministry to talk about it. He wanted us to know about it on this side of eternity. Logically, meekness is something that God desires and shows favor on. The challenge is understanding the word meek.   

Meekness is a controlled strength that puts everything in the hands of God. It’s founded on a trust of the Lord, and it always denies self. It seeks another person’s interest at the expense of its own, and it’s pure, peaceable, gentle, and open to reason. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.  How counter-cultural is that in today’s world?

There are many biblical references to the word “meek.”  Bible Psalm 37:11 (ESV) mirrors that of Matthew 5:5 by stating, “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” Proverbs 16:19 says, “Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.”

Meekness should not be confused with cowardice or weakness. It’s not being afraid to stand up to someone; rather it’s having the courage to trust God for justice. In the eyes of God being meek is seen as being peaceful, humble, and clear-minded about what is most important in life. Being meek means that you will follow God’s guidance in this life.  Meekness is a trait that is necessary for a Christian’s life. It is not just power under control, but power under God’s control. For a Christian, meekness is about surrendering everything to God and being completely at His disposal.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Everyone who has humility has meekness and every person with meekness is likely also humble. Agree or disagree and why? 
  2. When you think about meekness, what synonyms come to mind?
  3. Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth. What does He mean and how does that apply to us today?

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  – Matthew 5:4.

In Matthew 5:4, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” This is a line right in the middle of the beatitudes portion of His famous sermon on the mount. Each beatitude starts with a blessing. Jesus is giving us ways to live so that we can live a happy and blessed life. Blessed are those that mourn: In essence, Jesus is saying, “ happy are those who are sad.” That has probably caused some confusion over the millennia.

Given the human condition, Jesus’ promise to comfort those who mourn could not be more counterintuitive or counter-cultural. For the world, grieving sin is regressive and constricting. But for the Christian, it is the pathway to joy.

The world does not reward the kind of living Jesus is talking about, but God does. The world says are you blessed when all your dreams come true. You are blessed when everything goes your way. Jesus said happy are the sad and blessed are the broken-hearted.

Jesus was “…despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) He understood the destructive nature of sin and evil. Yet it was the joy that was set before Him that gave Him the strength to endure the cross. Jesus knew that His suffering would both purchase our salvation.  This gave Him joy and purpose.

If we believe that God’s grace and sovereignty are greater than any loss or disappointment, we too can experience joy in the midst of sorrow. We may not understand why God allows tragedy to strike.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 says: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.”

These are powerful verses. Verse 4 tells us that every pain in life can find meaning when we comfort others.  We are called to give out what we have been given. In other words, we should give out of the love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, blessings, finances, and comfort we have already been given. Christ’s comfort: it’s always greater than our trouble. It is more than our suffering.

It sounds difficult, but the unexpected good of brokenness is that it revives the life of Christ in each one of us. We become less and He becomes more. The more we become like Him, the more we become the people God created us to be.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe a time when your life was hit with an unexpected storm. How well did you endure it? What did you do when you felt like giving up? Did you experience God’s comfort during that period?
  2. What does “comfort” mean to you? What comfort do you need? What comfort have you received? What can you do to pass on the comfort of God to others?

Dependence On God

Living in the spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This is completely different from the life I would naturally live of myself. Each time I am faced with a new demand from the Lord, I look to Him to do in me what He requires of me. It is not a case of trying, but of trusting; not of struggling, but of resting in him.” – Watchman Nee. 

We need to be dependent on God. But here is the catch: you and I don’t always like having to depend upon God. So instead of learning to depend on God, we spend our whole lives trying to supplement our dependence upon Him.  We try to put enough money in the bank so we don’t have to depend on Him for our daily bread. We try to control our decisions so we have some control over how much we need to depend on God. 

Dependence starts by acknowledging Almighty God as the owner of everything, and the controller of every circumstance. Nothing is impossible with God, and everything is within His reach. Your part is to trust and obey, and His part is to do the rest. Dependency depends on Him working in and through you. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Jesus said in John 15:5:” Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus wants us to stay “plugged in” to Him, and depend upon Him, to be able to do anything in the Christian life.

Jesus is not an add-on to a full and balanced life—He is our life. It is short-sighted to use the Lord as a last resort only after we have exhausted ourselves and our resources. That is not dependence on Him. “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:2-3).

The Beatitudes are character qualities of Jesus Himself. He lived them out perfectly. He demonstrated dependence on God the Father continually throughout His life on earth. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” Jesus knew He had to depend upon His Father for everything He did here on earth.

In the same way, we can do nothing without Jesus. Just as Jesus could do nothing without the Father, so we can do nothing apart from Jesus. We will inevitably struggle in heart, body, mind, or community, and so our ultimate reliance on God is demonstrated through daily embracing His undeserved grace and never-failing love.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When do you tend to learn the most about God–when things are going well or when things are going poorly? Why do you think that is so?  
  2. How can you display dependence on God in times of pain and times of prosperity?

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-3 (ESV). 

Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is one of the most extensive and significant collections of His teaching that is recorded in the Bible. This foundational message begins with a series of traits or ways of thinking called Beatitudes, which, when practiced, yield joy and peace of mind. The first is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Since Jesus is the one giving the sermon on the mount it is no accident that the first beatitude is about being poor in spirit. This is a primary trait for a Christian—a fundamental requirement to following God’s way of life. A humble spirit enables us to develop the rest of the characteristics that Jesus lists in the sermon on the mount.

When used in the spiritual sense, “poor” refers to someone who is humble enough to recognize how powerless he or she is compared to God and someone who is willing to submit to that power. Compared to God, we are nothing. The poor in spirit don’t compare themselves to others: “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV). After looking at how insignificant one is compared to God, it’s impossible not to feel humbled. Psalm 39:4-7 says, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”

After God gave Job a glimpse of His greatness through the creation, Job declared, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6 ESV).  

There are many reasons God requires this deep humility. An example is Psalm 25:9 which tells us that the humble are teachable: “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” The humble are repentant: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 ESV)  And the humble acknowledge and accept their dependence on God and recognize His greatness: “Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2 ESV).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe a time when you felt especially poor in spirit—a time when you were keenly aware of your need for God. How did He meet you?
  2. Where do you especially need to grow in humility? (at work, as a parent, in your marriage, in the way that you approach church, etc)