Thursday, January 11, 2018

Keeping Up with the Meek

Teaching and preaching the Bible offers two distinct realities each week. On the positive side you get to interact with the written word of God and craft a message or lesson to help communicate God’s truths and make them applicable for our lives today. That is truly a joy. But the negative side stems from the exact same reason. The applicable aspect of the message is not just for those who receive the message; it is for the one delivering it as well. Some weeks living up to what is being taught is truly a challenge. However, gaining new insights, and stewing over them a few extra days before teaching is truly a blessing.

This past week, one insight that has brought me great joy is Matthew 5.5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” I have read this many times and have taught that the idea of meekness is like controlled strength. And, of course, I have taught about Jesus being meek. Truly, I know the verse well, but sometimes God illumines His Word in fresh ways. I believe the fresh understanding is due, in part, to having just completed a series on God adopting those who receive Jesus (John 1.12, for instance). With that series fresh in my mind, the word “inherit” in Matthew 5.5 jumped out like never before in its context.

The truth is like many people, I am driven (at least, to a point). I am not hyper-driven, but I am very purposeful. When presented a new opportunity, I not only determine if I have time, but how the opportunity supports my long-term objectives which certainly include what I believe God is asking of me over time. While I pray the first two beatitudes are true for me, I admit, sometimes, my purposefulness can get in the way. And like anyone, I have temptations, which, for me, includes wanting a few newer, or better items.

But the key insight this week was how hard some people work for so little. The old adage is that people try to keep up with the Joneses, but really what does the Jones family have? A nicer house? A newer car? A bigger bank account? Ok, great. This post is not how they achieved those items, but for those that want what the Joneses have, it will likely take a little more effort – and that may require extra ambition, which may move a person from being meek. Meekness is much more than dealing with ambition, but when our personal ambition gets in the way of our following God’s way or pushing others out of the way for our own gain, then we have crossed a line – and gained very little.

This post is not to suggest that hard work is not valuable or a good thing. But if our reward is only a nicer meal, a nicer car, a nicer home, or something similar, then we need to ensure we are not overstepping our bounds to acquire these items. Because, as Jesus said, the meek will inherit the earth. THE EARTH! Again, hard work is good and necessary, but we must consider for whom we work and what our expectations are (Colossians 3.17, 23). Why? Because God is offering far more than a car in a driveway or a house in a neighborhood. He is offering the earth, which is simply a step-stool for Him. Imagine how much He will give those who are truly His children. And, the promise is that it is ours not by what we do, but because of who we are. The promise is that the earth is inherited, not earned, just like salvation. With salvation, we can do nothing on our own to be saved, but our response to our salvation should be to do great works for God. Likewise, inheritance is not about work, it is about being an heir – in our case referenced here, an heir of God.

So, the next time I am tempted to impose my will on another, or, even worse, on God, I must consider if the earnings from my efforts are worth more than reward I have been promised. I cannot think of an instance where my earnings would be better, but without diligence I will fall into the same trap I have fallen too many times. If you are a follower of Christ, my desire is for you to consider your meekness in all occasions as well. Perhaps we can help one another not to fall, but let us definitely be willing to help one another up if we do.

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