Sermon: Blessed are the Meek
Scripture: Matthew 5:5
In this week’s lessons, we discover how the Bible defines meekness, and what is promised to those who possess it.
Theme: A Difficult Statement
Some time ago, I heard of a person who had converted to Christianity because, as he said, he needed “an easy religion.” I was amused by the incongruity of his statement. An easy religion! If he wanted an easy religion he should have gone elsewhere. As it was, he was a little bit like a comedian at a funeral—he had simply come to the wrong place.
The preceding studies on the Sermon on the Mount should already have made this fact clear. For Christ’s statements are intended to teach, among other things, that the kind of life he requires is actually impossible for men. And it remains impossible until men first come to Christ acknowledging that they cannot live it and asking him to live it in them. The poor in spirit are blessed, not the proud. The comfort Christ promises is for those who first mourn for their sin and for the sin of others. At this point, however, Jesus makes his description of the happy life even more difficult, for he goes on to show that the way of blessing is also through meekness. He says, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). According to Jesus, it is the meek—not the haughty, forward, arrogant, or aggressive—whom God blesses.
Christ’s listeners must have received this third beatitude in shocked silence. However, they could not have been much different from the people we know today. To most men and women the association of an earthly inheritance with meekness seems incredible. The world associates happiness with possessions, and it believes that the way to gain them is through ability, strength, hard work, self-assurance and, at times, even though self-assertion and conquest. The Jews of Christ’s day sought happiness through a materialistic and militaristic kingdom. Christ’s statement would have been a shock to them. We seek it through homes and their contents, success and the praise of men, and power with the status it confers. Thus, it is a shock to us also. Against all of these outlooks on life and these ambitions Jesus teaches that meekness must be a characteristic of those who are to share his kingdom.
Moreover, the other biblical writers say this also. James writes that meekness is to characterize our initial response to God’s truth: “Wherefore, put away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Peter says that Christians are to witness to others in a spirit of meekness: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). Paul lists meekness as one of the fruits of the spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Several times Paul speaks of meekness as the spirit of mind in which he dealt with problems in the early Christian congregations (Gal. 6:1; 1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Cor. 10:1). In Colossians he writes, “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering” (Col. 3:12).
Taken together, these verses teach that meekness is a characteristic by which God promises to bring blessing in the lives of Christians, and through them to others, and that it is not a natural characteristic in man but is the result of the supernatural working of God’s Spirit.
From the opening illustration, why was the man mistaken when he concluded that Christianity is an “easy religion”?
How does the world understand meekness, and what other characteristics do they emphasize instead?
What do you learn about meekness from Scripture?