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 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)

The Attributes Of God – The Grace Of God

What are God’s attributes? Each Friday we will look at an attribute of God. This week, the grace of God. Grace is the bestowal of blessing unearned or unmerited. When we speak of God’s grace, we speak of those wonderful gifts, like salvation, that no man deserves but God grants anyway.

“But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ….God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” – Romans 5:15, 20.

While all of God’s attributes should evoke a sense of awe, humility, and wonder, grace is one of the most astounding and life-transforming aspects of God’s character. From the beginning of time, God has chosen to give us grace rather than His wrath. Time and time again, we’ve turned our backs on Him, and yet “ He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:7)  

Both the Old and New Testaments describe God’s character as gracious, meaning that He is full of grace and kindness. This is how God described Himself to Moses: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6-7). King David also wrote about God’s graciousness: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9 NIV). King Hezekiah proclaimed that “…for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate… ” (2 Chronicles 30:9 NIV). The apostle Peter called God “the God of all grace.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Each morning we wake up is a show of God’s grace. If you’re able to drive to work in a car or have money to take the bus, those are displays of God’s grace and mercy. Jesus teaches us that God doesn’t hoard good. He doesn’t hoard His grace or give it out to a limited number of special people. God demonstrates a desire for everyone to experience His grace. This includes “those people who are annoying maddening or just bad.” In Jesus’ time, the so-called “bad people” were tax collectors, sinners, Samaritans, and Gentiles. But Jesus welcomed these people and forgave them. Jesus puts God’s grace on display to humankind.

It’s God’s grace that equips you. It’s God’s grace that holds you. It’s God’s grace that grants you a relationship with Him and eternal life with Him.  

As God’s grace works in our lives, we learn how to extend it to others. Through our actions, the grace of God blesses those who come in contact with us and become a testimony to others.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Does grace erase the consequences of wrongdoing? Why or why not? 
  2. How might your life change if you were to accept God’s free gift of grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy?

Blessed To Bless Others

” I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing. The orchards and fields of my people will yield bumper crops, and everyone will live in safety. When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the Lord.” – Ezekiel 34:26-27. 

There is an old hymn written by Daniel Webster Whittle in 1883 entitled, “There Shall Be Showers of Blessings.” Whittle wrote this hymn and many others. The words are based on Ezekiel 34:26-27.

God truly does shower us with blessings: deep compassion, amazing love, kindness and grace, His forgiveness, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and His multitude of promises to name a few. God doesn’t simply bless us just so we can say we are a blessed people. God blesses us because He loves us, and so we can be a blessing to others. He instructs us, so we can instruct others. He comforts us, so we can comfort others.

The Christian faith proves to be way bigger than just me and you. His blessings are not meant to be totally consumed by us. Blessings flow from God, but they should never stop with us. They come to us and then flow through us. Every blessing we have received from God, whether material or spiritual, is to be used for the benefit of others. Ephesians 2:10 tells us we were created anew in Christ Jesus for a purpose to “…do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

God is all about blessing people. In fact, God gave His people a blessing that we still use today: “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’” (Numbers 6:24-26). 

Psalm 20: 2,4,5 says, “May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem…May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed…May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.”

God blesses others through the blessings we have received. In a way, we keep those blessings moving forward as we partner with God and share our blessings with others. We do it for the common good instead rather than for personal gain, worth, or recognition.

Look around you at your neighbors, the people you work with or go to school with, the person sitting next to you at church, or the person in your small group. Are there opportunities to share your blessings with them? You will never regret a moment of helping someone else. And, you might just find that you are blessed as much as those you set out to help. 

  

Discussion Questions:

  1. How has God blessed you?
  2. How are you passing on to others the blessing God has given you?