Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
This morning, the Christian virtues of the Bible are not just becoming less commonplace in practice, but more and more people do not know exactly what they are. Today, if you asked someone what charity is, they would likely respond that it is a benefit of some kind: raising money for some cause, or hosting an event to promote the cause. When asked about love, they would likely give some sort of emotional definition full of squishy feelings that somehow equates to love. Love and charity are both sacrificial action that puts others ahead of self. Emotion oftentimes attends the action, but the virtue is in the action not the emotion. The Christian virtue of meekness is something the many today would not even be able to define or spot as it is becoming increasingly alien and foreign to the general consciousness of society.
Our study verse is found in the midst of a passage of Scripture commonly referred to as the Beatitudes from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. He references many things that people will be blessed to perform with a promised outcome for that behavioral import. Those that hunger and thirst after righteousness have the promise of being filled. Peacemakers are blessed with the promise of being called the children of God. Our verse gives the blessing and promised outcome for the meek in this world. Therefore, for us to experience this blessing, we need to know what meekness is, how to properly use it, and then have a proper understanding of what to expect from God’s promise.
Meekness is defined in many ways, but two of the most beneficial definitions (from faithful sources like a Webster’s 1828 and other places) can be summed up as: 1. quietness of spirit and 2. humility of soul. These two definitions show that meekness is more of an inward sense rather than an outward display. In this sense, meekness is what the inside looks like for someone who displays gentleness on the outside. Gentleness is an outward calmness, whereas meekness is inward calmness. One of the treasures of the 1828 Webster’s is the final sentence in the segment on the definition of “meekness.” It says, “Meekness is a grace which Jesus alone inculcated, and which no ancient philosopher seems to have understood or recommended.”
Now knowing what meekness is, how do we approach or put our arms around the promise to the meek to “inherit the earth?” One of the hardest things about this phrase to reconcile – for me at least – is the fact that this world is not the home for the child of God, yet this verse talks about us inheriting something. It is for this reason that I have heard some far out explanations of this verse, but the heart of the answer to the question is found in I Timothy 6:17. Paul encourages Timothy to exhort people not to trust in this world or the things in it but in God. Paul finishes the verse by talking about one of the things the Living God has done for us. He has given us all things richly to enjoy. When we understand the meaning of that expression, we get a good sense of what the manifestation of the promise to the meek is, and we then see how the pitfalls to take away our meek and quiet spirit strip this promise as well.
When God made the natural creation, He put things in the creation that were meant to be enjoyed. It is true that food from this planet nourishes and sustains our bodies, but God did more than that. He gave us a natural instinct to enjoy the process of eating. Sleep is something the body needs, but God designed people to actually enjoy the process. Families in function help keep a species propagated, but God gave us families to enjoy in the sense of relation, fellowship, society, etc. When it comes to this planet and the naturally created things, why is it that man has such a fascination with something like a waterfall? It is simply water flowing over a rock near the edge of a large elevation drop. Why is it that we enjoy sights, sounds, and smells from nature? Why is it that something as crude as eating could be so highly enjoyed? The answer to all these situations is that God has given us all things richly to enjoy. We are built and designed to enjoy them. Not only are they good for us, but He has given the instinct that takes delight in them too.
In a natural sense, this is man’s inheritance here. As God’s last and special of all creations, man was given a fully formed, developed, and fit place to which he was naturally designed. Solomon repeatedly throughout the book of Ecclesiastes refers to man’s life, works, etc. as “his portion.” Naturally speaking, God designed us this way, and we have the ability as his special creation and stewards over this world to richly enjoy these lives – completely in keeping with the dictates and rules He has established. However, just like natural heirs can forgo or forfeit their birthright, so can natural man not enjoy this life that God has given us unless meekness rules within.
Have you ever watched the sad behavior of someone that was so torn up inside that they either could not eat or did not enjoy eating? Perhaps their sleep departed from them. Work was a burden rather than a joy. Church was a duty rather than a love. No matter what was before them, they did not enjoy it. The inner turmoil that we sometimes fall into will keep us from enjoying what God created for us to enjoy. If my mind and spirit are disquieted within me, I can lose the ability for a season to enjoy the company of my family. I may be in their presence, but I have not been able to enjoy the situation due to the lack of meekness within. Whenever someone is on the other end of the spectrum from overmuch sorrow – haughtiness – the same outcome is affected. Consider the mindset of a prideful man. Food is never good enough. The job does not pay enough. No one else is smart enough. And so the list proceeds. They cannot enjoy the things of life or the people in their life due to the suffocating nature that ego brings about.
Meekness is the only mindset and constancy that is suitable ground and prepared soil for our lives to experience living rather than just existing. Truly, if we are breathing and walking around, we have life, but only if we have the quiet, calm constancy of soul and humility of spirit do we experience what it is like to really be living. When Christ spoke this, He was actually quoting directly from Psalm 37:11. The entire Psalm is worthy of careful and deliberate consideration to a disciple of Christ today. There are many good encouragements and warnings that are as fresh and vital today as they ever have been. However, the tone of the Psalm is really set in the first verse when the Psalmist encourages the child of grace not to fret over evildoers or become envious of the workers of iniquity.
What are those two behaviors if not the polar opposite of meekness? When the problems of the world make us fret, we lose that quiet spirit, and rather, we feel a roaring within. When we become envious of those around us, we lose that humility of soul, and rather, we feel bitter all the time. Bitterness and trouble will make food taste bad. They will also rob the moments of joy that we can have each and every day that we live. We lose our inheritance to such things, and the existence of life occurs without real living. Too many times, I have forgotten that each day is a miracle from His almighty hand. Each rising out of bed is a mercy, and the bed to own and use is a blessed comfort. Food – while necessary – is a joy from Him, family is a blessing beyond compare, and the spiritual plane of His church and the fellowship of His family is the highest of all highs in this world. These items are both necessary for my life and/or commandments for my duty. However, I would rather live in the enjoyment of these things than in the necessity of these things.
Today, there is much to rob the child of God’s attention and affection. However, no matter what the evildoers say, do not fret friend. No matter what the workers of iniquity seem to have in this world, look not upon those uncertain riches. Let us trust completely, wholly, and devotedly in the Living God. Look at how much He has not only done for us but given us. Let us enjoy it. Let us enjoy this life to the fulness of His glory. Each day of rising in the morning should be accompanied with, “Thank you Lord for another day. What wilt Thou have for me to do for You today?” Whatever that thing or things may be, let us do it heartily as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23), for that is our daily inheritance to be enjoyed only in the meekness and quietness of soul.