“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

We serve a God of Love. This is the fundamental attribute of the God we serve. Love is the motivating power of His creation and it is the motivation for much of what we do. To what is the foundation of our love, to where is our love to be focused, and to who is our love to be shown? The foundation of our love is found in the God we serve. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8) We are to focus our love first and foremost upon God. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) Because God loves all in His creation and sent His Son that all may be reconciled unto Him we are to love our neighbor. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) This relationship that we are to have with people is found in the fifth commandment and is speaking of our first relationship with people in this world our parents. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12) We honor our first human relationship, our parents, by loving them with respect and obedience.

Two weeks ago we spoke about our impoverished spirit, the realization that in the sight of a holy and righteous God we fall far from His glory. God is a Spirit and we were created in His image and we are flawed and broken by the sin in our lives and we need His healing hand to restore us into the image we were created. We need to be redeemed, restored, and transformed into the creatures we were created to be. It is a renewing of the soul that only the power of His Word can accomplish. We need to put off the old self and put on the new, lay off the dying flesh and live in the new birth of the Spirit that He has given us. “That you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)

When we realize the truth of ourselves, that we are far from the poster child of rightness, we develop a different attitude towards our self and towards others. In view of that truth we develop a gentleness or meekness towards others as we have a better understanding of where they are or have come from. What is meekness? It is not a quality that the world admires as it is considered as weakness. But this is not true as meekness requires a character of strength. In the Greek translation meek is humble or gentle and is related to lowliness. The Apostle Paul made reference to meekness in his letter to the Ephesians. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he used meekness and gentleness together in reference i to living a life in Christ likeness. “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ–I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!” (2 Corinthians 10:1) We are to be gentle towards others in our relationships as our role model Jesus Christ is.

Humility is a natural reaction to the study of God’s Word. The scriptures should help us to realize the flaws of character that we have in relationship to the character of God and convict us that we would put aside our sinful behaviors. We come away humbled by His Word and express our love towards our God in obedience to His Word. We know as the Apostle Peter that the Word of God are the words of life. (John 6:68) These are the words that we place our trust in and walk in faith with that will save our souls. “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21) This is the good news, the living saving words of our Savior that lead us to salvation. It is the good news that we share with all who have an ear to hear. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1)

In our humility we seek the Lord because we know that He is the Almighty God and sovereign Lord of the universe. We approach Him in meekness with hearts of thankfulness and voices of praise. For it is in Him and Him alone that we are spared of the day of His wrath. “Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3)

Meekness does not mean that we never have anger. The problem with anger is the motivation for our anger. God judges the heart and we must be careful not to equate anger with madness. A person who is meek can have anger when he sees others unjustly treated. An example of this kind of anger can be seen by our Lord’s anger in the Temple at Jerusalem. “The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” (John 2:13-16) His Father’s house had become a den of thieves and dishonoring to His Father’s name. Jesus was angered but not to madness as He was driving out the sinful from His Holy house. But if our anger is self-serving and of no benefit to anyone but our self, then it is not a proper expression.

Meekness is an expression of our love and honor towards others above our self. It is by this witness that others see the love of God through us and know that we have God’s love within us. As our relationships with others began by honoring our parents it now grows into honoring others. The Pastor of our Church has this formula, Jesus first, you second, and I last. The Pastor says the desirable position is third place. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

The greatest example of meekness or of gentle spirit is that of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and yet He became as a man, as you and me. He gave up His deity, gave up His throne in the Kingdom, and in obedience to His Father came down to earth as a man. He humbled Himself from His supreme splendor and clothed Himself in the flesh of a man and lived amongst us here for a season. He allowed Himself to be mocked, spit upon and beaten, and nailed to a Roman cross that through His death man could be redeemed and restored to a right relationship with God the Father. God the Creator would do that out of His love for man. The likes of you and me. That is not weakness that is strength. That is not self-serving, that is the greatest love. It is not pride but humility. This is as we are to be. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

The reality of our meekness is that we are content with the provision that God has given to us here in earth. Happiness does not lie in wealth, does not lie in possession, and does not lie in personal power or prestige. Happiness lies in the contentment of a right relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. Happiness is the peace of spirit that we have with God. “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Philippians 4:11) In that we have already inherited the earth as we rest in the palm of the hand that stills the waters, the most secure place to be in the whole of the universe. “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 24, 2016

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