The Beatitudes: Humility

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This fundamentalist Christian couple felt it important to own an equally fundamentally Christian pet. So, they went shopping. At a kennel specializing in this particular breed, they found a dog they liked quite a lot. When they asked the dog to fetch the Bible, he did it in a flash. When they instructed him to look up Psalm 23, he complied equally fast, using his paws with dexterity. They were impressed, purchased the animal, and went home (piously, of course). That night they had friends over. They were so proud of their new fundamentalist dog and his major skills, they called the dog and showed off a little. The friends were impressed, and asked whether the dog was able to do any of the usual dog tricks, as well. This stopped the couple cold, as they hadn’t thought about “normal” tricks. Well, they said, “let’s try this out.” Once more they called the dog, and they clearly pronounced the command, “Heel!” Quick as a wink, the dog jumped up, put his paw on the man’s forehead, closed his eyes in concentration, and bowed his head.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Meek is mentioned only by Matthew and is not found in Luke. An obvious allusion to Ps 37:11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. Who are the meek? And what is it to be meek? Clearly the way the passage is written, to be meek is not an earthly virtue but a relationship with God. They are in other words meek before God.

(1) So the truly meek are, first of all, submissive to God’s will. Whatever will of God is for them, they will. Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Today, when we use the word “meek” we misunderstand what scripture is talking about! Meek today means subservience or even spinelessness. But meek as used in the New Testament denotes nothing of spinelessness or lower status. Jesus said of Himself, Matt 11:29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Gentle and humble is one way of saying, meek. But meek does not mean powerless or helpless. In fact, it means a “great deal of control.” It takes a great deal of courage and self-control to allow someone else to run your life. Matt 21:12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. Doesn’t sound meek, but it is meek, because He is obedient to the will of God. A father and son walked through a wheat field inspecting the crop. The boy called attention to the stems that stood erect and said, “Those that let their heads hang could not be of much value.” The father said, “Son, you’re wrong. The stalks that stand so straight are lightheaded and almost good for nothing, while those that hang their heads are full of beautiful grain.” Humility is the beginning of greatness.

(2) They are also flexible to God’s Word; if they are really meek, they are always willing to bend. They do not imagine what the truth ought to be, and then come to the Bible for texts to prove what they think should be there. Rather, they go to the inspired Book with a candid mind, and they pray, with the psalmist, Ps 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. The meek in spirit are like a photographer’s sensitive film, and as the Word of God passes before them, they desire to have its image imprinted upon their hearts. Mark 10:35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
Meekness is a state of the heart or an attitude. He knows himself to be less than the least of all saints; and, in some respects, the very chief of sinners. Therefore he does not expect to have the first place in the synagogue, nor the highest seat at the feast; but he is quite satisfied if he may pass among his fellow-men as a notable instance of the power of God’s grace, and may be known by them as one who is a great debtor to the loving-kindness of the Lord.

(3) In addition to being humble and gentle, the meek are patient. They do not merely forgive seven times, but seventy times seven; in fact, they often do not feel as if anything had been done that needed any forgiveness, for they have not taken it as an affront; they consider that a mistake was made, so they are not angry at it. They willingly turn the other cheek. Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance. Paul asserted his right when he said, “They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out,” (Acts 16:37).

(4) I think that meekness also involves contentment. The meek-spirited man is not ambitious; he is satisfied with what God provides for him. He does not say that his soul loathes the daily manna, but somehow has learned the art of “thou shall not want.” The source of this meekness is Christ.

What does it mean to “inherit the earth?” The earthly Messianic kingdom? This might have been translated “the land.” The historical context of this passage means, it was promised to them that they should inherit the land of Canaan. In the time of our Saviour they were in the constant habit of using this promise as a proverbial expression to denote any great blessing, perhaps as the sum of all blessings.

Nothing is mightier than meekness, and it is the meek who inherit the earth in that sense. They inherit the earth in another sense, namely, that they enjoy what they have. Matt 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. The world has everything turned around. But the meek inherit the earth!

I received a note from a nurse that had taken care of my wife during her illness. Two years after her death and the nurse remembered her. “She was so thoughtful getting coffee for other patients or asking how their day was going.” “Such a positive attitude and witness, never boastful.” She concluded, “In the six years I have worked for the Cancer Center, I have literally seen 1000’s of patients. A lot are forgotten, but a few very special ones stand out. Vickie was one of those special people! She was one in a million!” Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

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