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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at Life BPC 8am & 11am service, 2017-07-16

Text: Matthew 5:5,6

 

There are two qualities that are highlighted in these verses: The first is meekness which concerns our relationships with people, and the second is godliness which concerns our relationship with God and His righteousness. Both of these qualities are essential for anyone to have a truly Christian character.

 

One person in the Bible who had both of these qualities is David. David was a meek man. He was most gentle and patient toward his adversaries, as well as others. Though he had to run for his life from King Saul who was jealous of him, David did not retaliate at all, but he returned evil with good (1 Samuel 26:7, 12, 23). When Saul died, David did not make any attempt to become king or force the tribes of Israel to submit to his rule. In the end it was given to him as an inheritance, when all the leaders of the tribes came to anoint him as their king.

 

David was also a godly man. He was known as a man after God’s own heart. His desire was to do what pleases God. This can be seen in two things: first, he took the trouble to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Second, David wanted to build the Temple for God if God would allow him to. As a result of his godliness, David lived a very fulfilled and satisfied life. The many psalms that he wrote testify to this. This illustration from the life of David gives us an idea of the kind of character we will be learning today from two beatitudes.

 

1. The Inheritance of the Meek

It begins with the words, “Blessed are the meek…” This is a much needed quality in Christian living. We need it especially in our relationships with people. We live in an environment that is becoming increasingly aggressive, uncaring, critical, complaining and insensitive to the feelings of others (Unfortunately this also happens on Sunday mornings whenever there are car parking incidents in our compound). This is especially true of the business world, where everything is directed toward productivity and profit, to remain competitive and produce an impressive bottom line. There is very little room for meekness or gentleness.

But Christ has called us to be in the world but not of the world. We must be of a different kind of character, in order that people who observe our life may notice the difference and be drawn to Christ. In these days of cold and competitive rivalry in society, it is particularly needful that Christians learn to be meek. It is therefore good for us to cultivate meekness. It pleases both God and men, and thus our Lord Jesus pronounced His strong approval of it when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

a. What a Meek Person Is

But what exactly is a meek person? He is mild-mannered toward people, moderate, considerate, thoughtful to others, yielding and friendly. A meek or gentle person does not resort to using force or intimidation to get things done, but he uses a soft approach: Titus 3:1,2– “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle shewing all meekness unto all men.”

But very often people are led to believe that this soft approach is not suitable for survival in our world. We are told that if we want to succeed, we must be assertive and aggressive; and we must show them ‘who’s the boss’ and we must push our plans through no matter what pain and inconvenience it may cause. We are taught that being ruthless toward all competitors, and refusing to give in to any demands or requests is the way to establish oneself in life. Men are especially least expected to be gentle, but to be firm and tough, because meekness is often interpreted as weakness.

But the truth is that meekness is not a sign of weakness at all. The Greek word for meekness describes a wild horse that has been brought under control. That’s why meekness is often called ‘power under control.’ Sometimes it requires great strength and courage to exercise meekness. Here are two verses that show the power of meekness: Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 25:15 – “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.” 

A King of Judah by the name of Rehoboam was not meek at all in dealing with his people and the result of it was that he lost most of his kingdom. According to 2 Chronicles 10:6-16, this happened when Rehoboam came to the throne of Israel. His people requested him to ease the heavy taxation that his father had imposed on them. Rehoboam first consulted his older advisors and they said to him,  “If thou be kind to this people and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants for ever.” Their advice was that king Rehoboam would gain a lot more by taking a gentle approach.

But Rehoboam did not heed their advice. Instead he listened to his younger friends who told him to take a tough approach, saying to the people, “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. For whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I shall chastise you with scorpions!” King Rehoboam followed this very unwise advice, and as a result 10 tribes broke away and formed another kingdom.

Now that we have seen what meekness is, it is also important for us to clarify what meekness is not. To be meek is not to be gullible or naive. Christ told His disciples to be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). It is foolish to be so trusting and accommodating that wicked people take advantage of us, and manipulate us for their own selfish ends. Meekness must therefore be applied with wisdom. Even our gentle Saviour Himself, the One who is called the Lamb of God, did not commit Himself to everyone who claimed to believe in Him, because He knew all men and what motives they had for coming to Him (John 2:23-25).

To be meek also does not mean that we must always give in to the demands of others, even on issues where we need to be firm and uncompromising. Whenever moral or ethical principles are at stake, we must never be swept along by others. King Jehoshaphat was much too meek even with the enemies of God. He was a good and god-fearing king, but he adopted a friendly attitude towards King Ahab, who was the most wicked king of Israel. Jehoshaphat accepted Ahab’s invitation to help him fight a battle. He embarked on a joint shipping venture with Ahab. He even had his son married to Ahab’s daughter. But each of these things ended in disaster, as a prophet from God rebuked Jehoshaphat, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 19:2)

Having defined meekness, we now go on to look at the best example of meekness. And there is no better example of meekness than our Lord Jesus Himself. The apostle Paul held up the meekness of Christ as the basis for his exhortation to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 10:1 – “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…”

Seven centuries before Christ was born, meekness was foretold to be one outstanding aspect of His ministry in Isaiah 42:2-4 – “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.”

These verses from Isaiah are quoted again in Matthew 12:18-21 and applied to Jesus Christ. It is worth spending a few moments to study this passage: Isaiah uses two figures of speech here. The first is that of a cracked, half-broken reed. It is so fragile that it will easily break into two under the rough treatment of men. But in the hands of Jesus the reed will not be broken further, and it will be fully restored. When Jesus is at hand, no one is beyond hope no matter how bruised and broken he may be.

The second figure of speech is that of a flickering, almost extinguished flame of an oil lamp or candle. A sudden movement will extinguish the flame entirely. But in the hands of our Lord Jesus, the flame will be safe for He will be gentle and understanding. The flame will grow in strength again until it is able to shed its light for all to see. Isaiah foretold that it is by such an exercise of meekness that Jesus will one day bring forth judgment unto truth, and judgment in the earth. The isles will one day wait for His law. In other words, in the final analysis, meekness will work. Meekness will win the day.

Jesus talks about His own meekness in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” What a loving invitation our Lord gives here to those who are weary and heavy-laden. Jesus is meek because He knows and understands our needs; He knows the anguish of our hearts; He knows our failures and disappointments. With tender loving care He offers us rest in Him, and the opportunity to learn from Him. For our sakes He even makes His yoke comfortable for us to put on – one that is not burdensome, but easy and light.

To be under His yoke obviously means that we are to serve under Him, to obey and carry out all that He wants us to do. Hence the yoke also implies some hardship and diligent effort. But we need not be afraid of the yoke which Christ puts upon us, because (as Matthew Henry describes it) it is lined with love. And it is a yoke that our gentle Saviour Himself has put on before – because He subjected Himself to obey all the commandments of God when He was on earth. Who can be more meek toward us than our Lord Jesus? Now that we have seen our best example of meekness in Jesus, let us consider:

b. How to Be Meek

To cultivate meekness, we must begin by having a biblical view of ourselves and of others. Following what we had learned from the first two beatitudes last week, we must be like the publican realizing that we are sinners who are saved by grace alone. If not for what God has done in our lives, we would not be what we are right now. We must realize how gracious God has been to us in three things: 1) to forgive us our sins when we really deserved to be punished, 2) to give us eternal life and a home in heaven, when we really deserved eternal death in hell, and 3) to have the privilege of walking with Him, when we really deserved to be left to walk in our own sinful ways to destruction.

When we truly understand how immensely we have been forgiven, and how intensely we have been loved and saved, we will be more willing to show that same forgiveness, love and compassion to those around us and be gentle in dealing with them. When we understand how God had such deep concern for our lives, we would be all the more willing to show the same concern for the lives of others.

Besides having a biblical view of ourselves, we must have a biblical view of others. Our minds must be trained to regard people as being precious and valuable. If you were given a piece of fragile porcelain which is so costly that it can never be replaced, how carefully and gently would you handle it! If you were to hold a new-born baby in your hands and marvel at the life that God has put into this little bundle of joy, how tenderly and gently would you carry it!

Now exactly how precious are the lives of people around us? Each and every person has priceless value because each person is created in God’s image. Each and every person also receives life, health and sustenance from God. And if God considers them as being precious enough to receive all of these blessings, you would be insulting God if you do not value them too. Please learn to appreciate the value of people around you, and regard each person you meet as a special person who is worthy of your attention.

And we should be all the more willing to be meek toward God’s people, because they have been bought with the precious blood of Christ. We must therefore be most careful how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We must deal with them gently because they are precious in God’s sight.

Once we have gained this biblical view of others, we can then go on to the next step to be meek: Be careful not to offend or stumble them. What if someone offends you or sins against you? Then you should not seek revenge, but be willing to forgive him. God’s Word says in Ephesians 4:32: “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

Thirdly, being meek means seeking the welfare of others. In Philippians 2:4, God’s Word says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” In order to be sincere in seeking the welfare of others, we must learn to see things from their point of view. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes (i.e. to empathise with them). Then you will be able to think about the best way you can respond to them, and ways in which you can really be of help to them.

Now it takes conscious effort for anyone to keep showing this interest, this concern for others in order to be meek towards them. On our own we would fail to do this for very long, because our tendency is usually to be concerned only for ourselves. But remember that meekness is mentioned as part of the fruit of the Spirit, according to Galatians 5:23. Thus the fourth step in being meek is to be filled with the Spirit. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will receive the special grace from Him to be more concerned for others, and to demonstrate meekness in your dealings with them. And let us remember that there is a reward promised in the beatitudes for meekness. Let us see what it is:

b. The Reward of Meekness

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” If you were to go out in the street and ask anyone you meet whom they think will inherit the earth, they will probably say, “It is those who are rich, strong, intelligent, ambitious, cunning, aggressive and powerful.” And right now, it does seem that these are the ones who are getting ahead of everyone else, and enjoying more of this world’s wealth and power than anyone else.

But in contrast to that, Jesus said that it is the meek who will finally inherit and become the rightful possessors of the earth. And they will obtain their estate, not by gaining influence and popularity, nor by using force and aggression, nor by any clever human schemes and devices. The meek will obtain it as a gift, freely bestowed on them by God. And the earth that the meek will inherit is not this earth with all its sicknesses, sins and pollution, but a new and better earth which is truly a heaven on earth. As 2 Peter 3:13 tells us: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Let this wonderful prospect motivate us to cultivate meekness in our character. There is however another quality which we need, in order to have a truly Christian character. It is found in the next beatitude.

2. The Satisfaction of the Godly

People everywhere hunger for food, for money, for pleasure, and for love. But on the deepest level of the human heart, what all people are really starving for is a right relationship with God. Within each of us there is a deep void that screams to be filled, and only God can fill this void. This longing for a right relationship with God is called godliness. Godliness is what man was created for in the beginning. And so he can never be truly happy and satisfied until he is godly. We were created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Until we are doing that we will feel that something important is missing from our lives.

a. Godliness focusses on Heavenly Nourishment

Let us look at Matthew 5:6 now and observe what Jesus said here about godliness: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst…” I am sure there must have been times when you were very hungry and thirsty, and you just could not wait to get something to eat and to drink. Well, the Scriptures tell us that we should desire God and His righteousness with this kind of longing. Let us look at some verses that show this: Isaiah 26:9 – “With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early: for when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Psalm 27:4 – “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple.”  Psalm 42:1,2 – “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”

The satisfaction that your soul needs can only be found in God and His righteousness. Your desires should not be focused on material wealth, worldly succ

ess and pleasures, and all these status symbols that are highly sought after, for all these things cannot meet your soul’s needs. After getting them and enjoying them, you will still feel a deep sense of emptiness inside you. You must seek after God and His righteousness instead, and treat them as the most basic necessities of your life.

 

In Deuteronomy 8:3 we are told that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. You need God’s Word as much as you need food to live on each day. And so you should hunger for it. You need to begin each day with God, and with a healthy intake of His Word. Let your heart be refreshed by His presence every morning. Take time not only to read the Word but also to reflect on it until your soul responds to it with prayer. And as you pour out your innermost thoughts and desires to God, you will receive His calm assurance of strength for the day, and of sufficient grace for every need. It requires some self-discipline to maintain your daily Quiet time and not rush through it like a bullet train, but the results will really be worthwhile. What result can you expect from godliness?

c. Godliness is Satisfied in Time and Eternity

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” And the satisfaction that comes from godliness is both in this life as well as in the life to come. It brings real satisfaction to the soul. Jeremiah 15:16 – “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” If this doesn’t excite you unto godliness, then consider the promises given in the next two verses…

 

Psalm 107:9– “For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Now listen to what God said in Jeremiah 31:14 – “And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, saith the LORD.” King David looked forward to being satisfied with God’s goodness as he said in Psalm 63:5,6– “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: When I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches.”

 

You know, there is nothing on earth that can ever compare to the satisfaction you will experience when you are godly, when you hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness. That is why, the apostle Paul, said in 1 Timothy 6:6 that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” And yet today, millions of people are dying of spiritual malnutrition because they are seeking satisfaction in all the wrong things. In the words of Isaiah, “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” (Isaiah 55:2).

 

How blessed it is to be satisfied in time and eternity by being godly – this is the message of the 4th beatitude. And earlier on we had seen from the 3rd beatitude how blessed it is to be meek. Today we have seen that a truly Christian character is one that has both these qualities. Let us therefore work on cultivating them in our lives. May the Lord grant us grace to keep growing in meekness and in godliness.

 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25