Blessed are the Meek
3rd of a Series of 10 messages on the “Beatitudes”. This sermon was delivered by Pastor Eric Chang on Mar 23, 1980.
We now come to the third beatitude, as it is called, the blessing, and here we read: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Happy! As we have seen, blessed means happy! Happy because God has blessed this man. “Happy are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” When we studied the ‘poor in spirit’ we already saw that this basically means the meek. But today what we need to ask is a further question: what does ‘meek’ mean? We need to go more deeply into this.
Now, I want to say once again, that it is very important for us to understand the Lord’s teaching on salvation. And I would like to reiterate, to repeat, what was said, and say it again, the Lord’s teaching is not a teaching of salvation by creed, i.e., we are not saved by just having the right creed, important as that is. Nor are we saved by works, important as good works are. (As Paul has said, “For good works whereunto you have been ordained.”) If we are saved... neither by creed nor by works, we are saved how then? By becoming a new person through the grace and the power of God! God makes us into new people. We are saved, and only saved, by God’s power given to us in His grace to change us into new persons.
What are these new persons like? That is exactly what the beatitude is telling us. This is the picture of the new man, the new kind of person: a person whom God blesses because he is poor in spirit; he is humble. God blesses him because he mourns over sin because he loves righteousness; he hates iniquity. And God blesses him because he is meek. He is meek not because he tries to be outwardly humble; he tries to bow down his head; he tries to darken his face; he tries to behave in a mournful fashion. Oh, no! He is meek because God has made him to become this new kind of person.
The Solution to Mankind’s Problems: The Gospel
I find the Gospel is so wonderful because only the Gospel can really solve the problems of mankind. And it can solve the problems of mankind only because the Gospel alone gets to the root of the problem. What is the root of the problem? The human heart! Right there to the root of the problem to change the man from inside. No other way can man’s problems be solved. You can change his economic situation; you can improve his educational situation; you can improve his sanitary situation; you can improve his longevity by antibiotics and other things (assuming that they do work very well in extending a person’s life a little bit more), but these do nothing to change the person inside. He is basically still the same selfish being that he is. Through education he learns to be a little more subtle in the way he expresses his selfishness. He learns to be more cunning and that makes it all the more dangerous. Before he expresses his selfishness so plainly he comes from A to B in a straight line; now that he is educated, he is sophisticated. He knows how to go round the corners and express his selfishness in a very well and very subtly expressed form. But he is still selfish. He is basically the same person that he was before, except now he is a lot smarter in the way he expresses himself. He wants to have a better world. He wants to have a world in which there is abundance, there is peace, and there is prosperity. No way!
Look at the world today. Everybody’s finger is on the trigger. It is a question of whether we can keep the balance of power. What happens if this balance is disturbed? We live in a very dangerous, in very fragile situation. How can we keep things balanced? Very difficult! When things are uneasily balanced, a little grain of wheat is enough to upset the balance. What happens when the balance is temporarily upset? Then the person on the other side will take the advantage to make the first strike. We do not live in the kind of situation that assures us of peace with any degree of certainty.
The only way that this can be achieved is the way worked out by God in His wisdom. Man has to be changed from the inside. When people say, “What do you Christians do about the social problems?” Well, we do a great deal. We do only things that really matter. We go to the heart of a man and change him. When you have a new man, you have the beginnings of a new society. When you have a new society you have a new world.
“They shall inherit the earth.” God has not finished with this earth yet. Please notice. There is a kind of teaching today which seems to forget about the earth. We are all going to heaven. As if we say, “Bye-bye, earth!” and “I don’t care what happens to you. I am finished with the earth.” God has not finished with this earth. God is going to establish His kingdom in this world, on this earth. Remember this well in Scripture. Our teaching is no kind of escapism. Christianity is not a refusal to face the problems of the world so we are going to get out of this world. “I don’t care about this world. I am just going to heaven. What happens to the world, I don’t care.” Well, God cares! “The meek shall inherit the earth.” This very earth! Strange, isn’t it, that God is still concerned about this earth. At least strange to our minds, but not strange to God. God created this earth and He is going to establish His righteousness here on this earth. How is He going to do this? He is going to do it, first, by changing us. Have you got a better solution to the world? If you have, let me know, I have not heard of any yet. Look at this world and the mess that it is in. There is no way you are going to produce a better society, or that you are going to establish righteousness on the earth, until you change man from the inside.
That is why I have perceived that the Gospel is basically the only solution, the only fundamental solution to the problems of this world on this earth. I challenge anyone to find a better one. There isn’t one. The truth of the matter is, it is so obvious. You cannot produce a good society, a new society, without new people in it. You cannot produce new people by education. Can you? Can you produce good people by giving them a swimming pool each and two cars to drive? Lots of gangsters have swimming pools and two cars to drive. Maybe even five cars to drive! If a good economic status could change people, I would that everybody would be having two cars and three houses or whatever else it takes to make a new man. But it does not work. It does not change the man from the inside. God has to come in and change the man. Then how do you know that you were changed?
A Sunday school teacher was asking a little girl who had recently made a profession of faith. “Do you think”, she asked the little girl, “now that you have given yourself to Christ, to the Lord Jesus, do you think you have a new heart inside of you?” The little girl said, “Oh yes, I think so, teacher.” The teacher said, “How do you know? How do you know you have a new heart?” She said, “Well, it is like this. The things I used to like before, I used to love before, I hate now. And the things that I used to hate, I now love.”
This expresses just what is said here. If, when I was a teenager, somebody said to me about “Blessed are the meek”, I would have sneered. Meek?! That’s the last thing I want to be. I want to stalk like a lion, walk like a tiger. Meek - that is for the chicken. Oh, no. Those are for the nobodies of this world. But for the likes of us - the superior, the elite - who wants to be meek? You know our Chinese expression “He walks like a tiger” implies that a person is really something; he is very powerful. “Walk like a tiger!” Oh, no! What about walking like a lamb? Oh, meek, defenseless. “No, no. We don’t like this.” And the things that I hated before were meek. Well, God dealt with me that I [now] love meekness. Even when I was studying again this passage, I was saying to myself, what a miracle! What a miracle God has done that there would be one day, I would be standing up here and talking about “Blessed are the meek”! If you had known me in the days when I was not a Christian, you would know that meekness was not a virtue I have thought of at all. I regarded it as pure rubbish. Maybe if you are not a Christian now and you hear the words, “Blessed are the meek”, you would say, “Oh! What kind of a blessing is this? What kind of quality?” But when God has changed you, your sense of values has changed completely. Then you know something has happened to you.
Change is the Solution to the Root Problem
Once you thought money was so important. You listen to conversations and everybody is talking about money: how they made a lot of profit the other day in their business; what great success; how they appeared on this TV show; and this and that and the other thing. Funny! How come? When I sit there listening to this, it does not interest me in the least. The things that fascinated me once do not fascinate me anymore. God has changed my sense of values. So, like the Sunday school girl, the things that I hated before, I despised before - including the Christians, I despised them - now I love. The things I loved before, now I reject, I hate them - the pride, the arrogance. God has changed the person.
You know it is also strange that, nowadays, many times that I feel I have been wronged by people, it surprises me that I do not feel a sense of revenge or a sense of bitterness. In those days, woe would be to anybody who rubbed me the wrong way! But now I do not even feel a sense of revenge. Strange! Sometimes when people say bad things about me, it does not touch me. I do not even want to defend myself. I do not even want to say, “No, no! You have got it wrong. I am not like that at all.” If you want to believe Eric Chang is bad, “Hallelujah!” It’s fine with me. That does not bother me at all. Strange, isn’t it? It does not touch one. And when people praise me, strangely enough it does not do anything to me at all. I do not feel any sense of pride. I do not feel anything particular about it. Why? Because I know it is not I, but it is He who did it. It is Christ that matters!
One of the great composers, the Italian composer Toscanini, was said to be a very humble man. Once when he was going through a rehearsal with his orchestra, he inspired his orchestra to such heights of performance, he lifted up his orchestra to such heights of excellence, that even the orchestra themselves realized how they had been lifted up. So at the close of the rehearsal, they put down their instruments and applauded Toscanini. This was even at a rehearsal! And Toscanini, with tears in his eyes, said, “It is not I; it is Beethoven.” He passed on the excellence but he felt he had only brought out what was in Beethoven. He had not done anything. Such was the humility of the man. When I thought of these words of Toscanini, “It is not I; it is Beethoven”, they reminded me of the words of John the Baptist, “It is not I, but Christ.” Not I, but Christ.
So when people praise you, what are they praising you for? You did not make yourself a new person. It is Christ who changed you from inside. This is what I mean about humility here, this meekness. We do not go around making ourselves look very meek, bending our back a few degrees more - seemingly humility is judged by the angle of your back! Presumably the more you bend, the more humble you are. And if you have a reasonably good posture, you are very arrogant. My posture is poor I have to confess. But this has nothing to do with humility. Humility is from the heart. It is because Christ has changed us from inside. When Christ has changed us from inside, we begin to understand this teaching. When the Lord said, “blessed are the meek”, He does not mean that therefore you should go around scraping and bowing like some meek person. He means: “Be meek in the heart!” “Learn of Me,” the Lord Jesus said in Mt. 11:49, “for I am meek and lowly of heart.” A humble man does not always look outwardly that he is meek. It is inside. Don’t judge a man by his merely outward performance.
A certain pastor once told me how he once went into a meeting and he saw the choir standing in front and the choir there were singing. He saw one man who stood up and he sang with his head up in the air, with an air of great pride, with his head sticking up in the air and his nose high up there. This pastor said to me that he was so incensed and disgusted with this fellow’s posture and whole behavior, the way he conducted himself singing like this. He was very disturbed about this, until after the meeting he met this person who was singing and he discovered that he was blind. Then he realized the reason why this person was singing like this and standing with his head up was in fact because he is blind; he cannot see at all. Many people who are blind have this kind of posture, not because they are proud, but because that is the way they are. Don’t judge people outwardly. Humility is of the heart.
The Heart Needs Changing
We have this wonderful Chinese saying that illustrates what the Lord is doing, that only when you change a man inwardly can he come to the stage one day when he shall inherit the earth in which righteousness dwells. A society in which people are genuinely humble and not trying to rise up by stepping down on the other person and using him as a ladder to climb up. A society in which this kind of deadly competition in which you push yourself up at somebody’s expense is no more. A society in which each person truly cares for the other person and regards the other person as better than himself. There is this Chinese saying, which I have seen in many places when I had been traveling around. I saw it in various shops. You know in many shops, you see little cards with little quaint sayings, which are put there to hang on your wall to remind you of some saying of wisdom. Some of them are quite good and some of them are rubbish, of course. One very good one I have seen which quotes a Chinese saying like this:
“If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace on earth.”
Peace in the world! This Chinese saying saw that you have to start from the human heart: “If there is righteousness in the heart”. And we shall see in a moment, meekness has a lot to do with righteousness. So wonderful! So deep is the teaching of the Lord Jesus! So much to the point! He comes really to the heart of the matter.
A Study of the Original Quotation in Ps. 37
Now, how to understand this saying, “Happy are those who are meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Well, many of you will know that this verse the Lord Jesus actually takes as a saying straight out of Ps. 37:11. It was a quotation of the 37th Psalm. And this is what the psalmist said: “But the meek shall possess the land (or the earth), and delight themselves with abundant prosperity.” The Hebrew word and the Greek word is ‘peace’ here, which the RSV has translated as ‘prosperity’. The word is ‘peace’. The meek shall possess the earth, or the land; it is the same word in both Hebrew and Greek, which can be translated as earth or land.
How do we then expound a passage of the Lord’s teaching? Like this: the way to do it is to look from where the Lord took these words and then we study it in its context. The 37th Psalm is in fact unique. It is unique because it has this word ‘inherit’, which is translated as ‘possess’ here in the RSV, while the Greek and the Hebrew both have ‘inherit’. In fact the Greek OT has the word here exactly the same word and the same tense as in Greek NT: “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Five times in this psalm, we find this word ‘inherit’. And when we compare what is called in Hebrew a ‘parallel statement,’ we begin to derive the meaning by observing the parallel. We shall see this.
1) The Meek Wait for the Lord
First of all, when we look at the psalm, we notice that two kinds of people are contrasted in this psalm: the righteous and the sinner. It is the righteous here in v11 that is described as in its character as meek. You cannot be righteous without being meek. That is what it comes to. The meek are the righteous, and the righteous are the meek. So we learn three things from the psalm about the meek. What do we learn? First we learn that the meek are those who wait upon God. Look at v9 and you will see the same phrase this time in another parallel. Ps. 37:9: “For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the Lord” - shall inherit the earth - “shall possess the land.” Now when you take the second part, both cases have to do with ‘inherit the earth’, and the first part, ‘meek’ and ‘wait’ are, of course, in parallel. So, those who are meek are those who wait for the Lord.
The next question we have to ask is what does it mean to wait for the Lord? By the way, in v34 you find the same parallel again: “Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you” to inherit the earth, or as RSV translates it, “to possess the land”. So twice in this psalm, it refers to those who wait for the Lord whom the Lord will exalt. “Humble yourself before the God and the Lord will exalt you.” He will lift you up. The humble are those who humble themselves because they trust in God. They are those whom God will exalt by His power.
By the way, this brings us to another point, which is very important. Here we are dealing with principles of power, principles of spiritual power. There are many Christians who are exceedingly lacking in spiritual dynamism, spiritual power, and the reason is that they have not let God do this transforming work in their lives. If you let God do this transforming work - making you to be humble of heart (not trying to be outwardly humble but letting Him truly make you humble within) - then you will experience the spiritual power, the power of the new man, the work of the Spirit in your life. So, this is the principle of power, and a humble person then is one who waits for the Lord.
What then is it to ‘wait for the Lord’? Well, v7 tells us in this psalm. It is to “be still”, to be quiet, “wait patiently for him”. What does that mean? It says, “Fret not yourself over him”. Now what does the word ‘fret’ mean? Fret is somewhat vague. Fret means to be restless in English. The Hebrew is much more precise. The Hebrew means to be burning, to be burning with anger. Don’t get angry and heated up. Let me mention another point here: how is your temper? How is your temper lately? If you are a person who gets angry easily, then you best ask the Lord to get on with the transforming work in your life. Anger is the opposite - this kind of anger is the opposite - of humility. A person who gets bad-tempered and angry easily is evidence of the fact that he has either not been transformed or not fully transformed. He has a long way to go. “Fret not yourself over him who prospers”. Here the anger is over the person, an evil man, who is prospering. The righteous man is trampled down and the bad man is prospering.
Those of you who are familiar with Hong Kong society especially often feels the sense of annoyance as these bad characters, especially corrupt police officers, corrupt government officials, people who are through corruption getting rich, driving around in a Cadillac or Mercedes Benz or whatever, and living in great style. These are crooks and robbers. And you feel annoyed. You feel angry. You feel heated under the collar. Just like it says here, the heat coming up - that heat of anger - that the unrighteous should prosper while the righteous are trampled down. But here it says, “Fret not yourself”. So, v8 says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!” and again, “Fret not”. Don’t be angry yourself. It tends only to evil. Anger tends to evil! It is no use getting angry. You say, “Why shouldn’t we get angry? We have got to do something about this.” Don’t worry! God will do plenty about it. V9: “For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land.” God is a God of justice! This world in which we live, this earth, He will execute justice in it. Don’t you think that the wicked will get away with it! God will cut them off. And then v10 says: “Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more”. Though you look well at his place, he will not be there. You will look at his place and you will say, “Where is he? I thought he was here somewhere before. All these monuments that he raised to himself, all these trophies of his glory, God will wipe them away. You will look for him and you cannot find a shadow of him left. Now that is the context. And then we read in v11, “But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in peace.”
This world has a saying, backed up by alleged sayings of evolution: it is the ‘survival of the fittest’. ‘Survival of the fittest.’ Nature is said to be reared in tooth and claw. And so we are brought up, many of us are brought up in this (and that is why I disliked this teaching on meekness and humility which I regarded as all so much rubbish) because we are brought up to “Fight for yourself!” If you do not fight for yourself, who fights for you? But the Bible answers, God will fight for you. While you do not have faith, you will not believe that. So you fight for yourself. The only trouble is if you run into somebody who is stronger than you, then he will chew you up. That is the end of you. Or else you have to acknowledge him as teacher and boss, as superior. “Okay, you are the big boss.” “Okay, boss. You got it. You are stronger than me, so how about you leave some crumbs for me when you have finished your dinner.” Because not everybody can be strong - it is the survival of the fittest - so you are going to bow down to somebody in the end. So here is the law of the survival of the fittest - is it true?
Some of you have heard of Richard Wurmbrand, the pastor from the East European states, from Romania, who, in one of his books, says about this business of the survival of the fittest, “In this case of the ‘survival of the fittest’, how come at the end of this whole evolutionary process, there are still animals as defenseless as the sheep? How do you explain this?” The sheep he says, “He can’t run very fast. He’s got no horns. He can’t fight. How come there is still a creature called the sheep in existence at the end of this thing. There should only be lions left by now. Since only the fittest can survive, then compared to lions, what else can survive around here?” Well, maybe there is some point to this. I don’t know how sheep managed to survive. By now I do not know whether there have been challenges or not to this doctrine of the ‘survival of the fittest’. But what I do know is this: the Lord Jesus says, “I send you out as sheep among wolves” [Mt. 10:16]. They are defenseless. Who will be our defense? “You will be slaughtered,” as Paul says, “all the day long, like sheep”[Rom. 8:36]. But God is our defense! The point here is this: either you trust in your own strength or you trust in God’s strength. I heard that the other day (I could not get to the Bible study the previous week), they studied about ‘turning the other cheek’. I hope you also got that point. The person who turns the other cheek is one who trusts in God for his defense. The person who strikes back trusts himself for his defense. You may be a kung fu expert. That’s fine! But that is nothing compared to God’s power, let me tell you. When God’s power gets going, when God’s power comes into action, no kung fu expert is too much to reckon with.
I remember in our church in Liverpool once, there was somebody who wanted to get baptized. And his brother was furious! His brother was a kung fu teacher. And so he phoned me and I was not home. Usually we have our baptism in an English church, and so when he discovered that the baptism would take place in the English church, he phoned the English pastor and abused him and said, “If you dare go ahead with this baptism, I will be there to reckon with you. You better get your bed ready in hospital because I will fix you up if you dare to baptize my brother.” He was so furious! When I got back, I was told, “You know, terrible things are happening. This dear brother wants to get baptized, and his brother, the kung fu expert, the kung fu teacher, said he is going to come to the church and disrupt the service and beat up the pastor. What are we going to do? Shall we go and call the police?” I said, “Well, I can’t call the police because the baptism is not in our church. The baptism will be in his church. It is up to him to call the police, if he wants to call the police.” So I phoned the brother and I said to him, “Do you want to call the police?” He said, “No.” Ah, this man knows the principle! He said, “I will trust in the Lord for my defense. It’s okay.” I said, “Praise God! There are still men of God around!” He said, “I don’t want to have the police all standing around the church. [People will say,] ‘What kind of service is this?’” So I prayed about this thing, and sure enough he (the kung fu master) phoned me when he heard I had come back. He said, “I want to come and see you.” Well, he is going to beat me up even before the service. He is not even going to wait for the service. So I committed this thing to the Lord. “The Lord is my strong tower and my defense.” [Ps. 144:2] When I asked [the brother to be baptized], I said to him, “Is he bluffing, or does he really mean it?” He said, “If I know my brother, he really means it. When he says he is going to do it, he is going to do it.” And he had said that not only will he beat up the pastor, he will kill his brother, too. He was coming to the house, and so I committed the matter to the Lord in prayer. When he rang the bell at the door, I opened the door and he was standing there. He said, “Oh, I am very, very sorry to trouble you. I am sorry to waste your time, to take your time like this.” I said [to myself], “Hey! Is this the man who is going to beat me up?” So I said [aloud], “Come in. Come in.” And he was so friendly, so nice. I thought, “What happened to him?” We had a very nice chat together, and he and I became friends in one conversation. Then he said to me, “I don’t mind you baptizing my brother. (After this conversation, everything is okay.) On one condition, just ask him not to tell our mother. That’s all. Because she has a weak heart.” I said, “Well, that is his decision, you know.”
We trust in God for our defense. I mean that if he had brought up his kung fu, he probably would have sent me to hospital in about two seconds flat. But my God is my defense. What happened to his kung fu? He became my friend. You see, turning the other cheek is this: you can fight back, sure you can; you can be your own defense. Or else you can trust in God to be your defense. Now it is more difficult if you happen to be a kung fu expert. If somebody slapped you on the face and you think, “Hey, I can flatten him with one stroke!” But [instead] you trust in God for your defense. That is the point here. Wait on the Lord - that is what it means. It means do not be impatient, do not get hot under the collar and strike back straightaway. Wait! Wait. Give God the right - it is His right to be the judge. Let Him be your defense. If you do not have faith in God, you will not do this. So this brings us to the second point.
2) The Meek Have Faith in God
The second point of being meek is that you have faith. Without faith, you would never have the patience; you would never have this willingness to let God act on your behalf. So we find the second thing: that is, faith in him. So we read here v5; in fact, we can go back to v3: “Trust in the Lord and do good.” You see, the person who waits on God is the one who trusts in Him. I do not strike back because I trust in the Lord. It does not matter whether I can beat him or not. If you do not strike back because you are afraid you cannot beat him, then you are a coward. If you strike back because you know you can beat him, then you are a bully, because you know you can beat him. And if you strike back when you do not know whether you can beat him or not, then what is the result of the whole matter? You might end up pretty badly beaten and he might end up badly beaten, so in the end you are even. You have not squared anything at all. But he who trusts God for his defense: that is the meek. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will dwell (notice) in the land,” in the Land of Promise, “and you will enjoy security”, the security that comes from the Lord. Then v5, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Now, that is the point of turning the other cheek: He will act. And then v6: “He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday.” “He will establish your vindication” - your justification - “and He will establish your right.”
It is very interesting that I have often seen the wicked - they seem to have a much bigger income than mine, but they seem to be endlessly in debt. They may earn two or three times what I have, but they are forever in debt. I myself have scratched my head and tried to figure it out. How come they have such a big income and yet they are living on their credit cards. Lately President Carter has tried to put restrictions on the use of credit cards because the Western nations are nations that live on credit. They are all broke. They all live on credit and they are forever spending the rest of their lives trying to pay back what they owe to the banks. Very strange! I never want to owe anything on credit, because what I owe I am never sure I could pay back. So, I do not want to be on credit. I am scared of credit cards. But most of the people today are so up to their neck in credit. Because you can borrow against your income - you can borrow $2000 and pay back $25 a month. How long is it going to take you at the rate of 21% interest a year to pay back your $2000? So it is forever trying to catch up with endless credit. You are always living in debt. The wicked borrows but he can not pay back. Why? Because he is never satisfied with what he has. He wants more and more. He wants a better car, a nicer car. The next guy, he just bought a 1979 model. I have to buy a 1980 model. I have to be one step better than him. If he had bought a 1980 model, I would have to get a 1981 model. So it goes forever keeping up with the Joneses. He got a leather coat; I have to get a leather coat, too. Not good that mine is plastic. Or if he got a leather coat, I get a fur coat. If he got a fur coat, I get a mink coat. “Keeping up with the Joneses.” In Hong Kong I am sure you know this very well. I have always tried to figure this thing out. I can’t understand this mentality in Hong Kong. I am constantly lost but I am trying to understand it. The wicked borrow and cannot pay back.
But the righteous, he may be poor but he is giving. That is the beauty of the whole thing. “It is better to have a little”, it says here in v 16 of this passage, “Better is a little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.” You may have very little, but so long as you are righteous, that is what matters. The wicked has abundance, but that does not do him any good, “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken”. Ah, it is truly wonderful! Put the Christian life into practice and see whether it works. I believe in the Gospel because I know it works. It is so true. People may slander me and attack me. It’s okay. My God is my defense. If I am wrong I should be the one that is to be judged. And if he is wrong, may the Lord have mercy upon him because the Lord will judge him. So wonderful! Put this into practice and you will see how God will vindicate you, how God will defend you. Even as what happened to me, when the kung fu expert comes to attack you, the Lord will deal with him. He will change him that he will become your friend. In fact the next time somebody wants to attack you, he has to reckon with your kung fu friend.
3) The Meek Are Righteous
The third thing we notice here about the meek, of course, by now you would have noticed, is that he is righteous, in v29. When you look at v29, you will see exactly the parallel here: “The righteous shall possess the land”. Notice the meek are the righteous - they shall possess the land; they shall inherit the earth, “and dwell upon it forever.” That is wonderful! God has promised this earth to the righteous, to the meek, to those who wait upon him, to those who trust in him. These are the ones who shall inherit the earth.
Now let us understand one thing. The apostle in 1 Jn. 3:7 says this: “He who does righteousness is righteous.” This is very important. Let no one deceive you. “He who does right is righteous, as Christ is righteous.” Now this is a fundamental point here: that it is those who not just talk righteously but who do it. Earlier on in the second chapter, the apostle John said that it is “those who are born of God who do righteousness.” [1 Jn. 2:29] “Those born of God” - and this is exactly what we find here. When we return to the psalm, we notice that that is why these righteous ones are called ‘saints’, in Ps. 37:28. His saints: God’s holy ones. And remember that when I was expounding on discipleship, I said that Paul prefers the word ‘saints’. Then the psalm goes on to say this is because “God’s law is written in their hearts” (notice this in Ps. 37:31), and therefore he is blameless and upright.
So by now, I trust you have seen how the Lord Jesus takes these words from Ps. 37 in order to give us a clue of what He means. By now we see [firstly] that the humble person is a person who has faith in God. He waits upon God. Secondly, we have seen that a humble person is a person who is generous and giving because he trusts in God. Thirdly, he is a person who does right. V27 of the psalm says, “Do good” and “Depart from evil”. Thus v29 says, “The righteous shall possess the land”.
The Result of this Meekness
Now that we understand what the righteous means, what the meek means, we come to ask finally the question, what is the result of this righteousness? What is the result of this meekness? What does it bring? First of all, it brings salvation. If you look at Ps. 37, at the last part of the psalm, right at the last two verses, vv39&40, you will see that the whole thing has to do with salvation: “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their refuge in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” The meek are those who will be saved. As I have said right at the beginning, salvation has to do not just with what you believe, not just with what things you do externally, but what kind of person you are. And you can only be that kind of person by the transforming power of God.
Secondly the meek person is the person who has peace. Do you experience peace in your heart? Do you enjoy rest? Mt. 11:29 and Ps. 37:11 talk about this. As we have seen, Ps. 37:11 says this: they “shall possess the land and they shall enjoy abundant peace.” Mt. 11:29 is saying exactly the same thing; there the Lord Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are heavy laden, I will give you rest. Learn of me, take my yoke upon you and you shall find peace in your soul.” That is exactly it! So many Christians today are restless. They are disturbed, anxious, under pressure. We live in a society that puts a lot of pressure on you. You have endless exams to take; you have to keep on under the pressure of a workload. It is a very stressful life that we have to live, but the meek find rest in their soul deep inside the person. No matter what the external pressures are, there is that rest inside.
So, first there is salvation. Secondly there is rest. And thirdly there is victory. The meek find victory. This is something truly beautiful. Let us look at Ps. 149:4 (Ps. 149 is the last but one psalm): “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble (the meek) with victory.” Isn’t that beautiful? The meek are the ones who are victorious. Isn’t that remarkable? We think that it is the nasty, the strong, the tough, that are victorious. Not at all! It is the meek that He adorns with victory. Mt. 21:9 tells us of the Lord Jesus coming into Jerusalem, “humble” (meek is the Greek word there), “riding upon a donkey”. A donkey was the instrument, was the animal of peace. The horse is the instrument of war. The Lord Jesus comes in, victorious but riding on a donkey. This is something again. The meek are the ones who are adorned with victory. They are the ones whom the Lord will vindicate, as we saw in Ps. 37:6. Now I will spend a moment more on victory because so many Christians live a very defeated life. Do you find yourself defeated all the time? Then here is your answer: let God change you! Today, we live in a society that studies techniques. How to be successful? What are the steps and techniques by which we can be successful? The Bible’s answer has nothing to do with techniques. It has to do with what kind of person you become in order to be victorious and successful - successful in the spiritual sense. If you are defeated constantly in the Christian life, then what you need to ask God to transform you, to change you. Make of you a new person. Make of me a new person, too.
Fourthly, we will notice that the meek are the ones who find guidance. So many Christians seek guidance. What should I do under this circumstance? What should I do under that circumstance? And the pastor often has to spend a lot of time answering the questions about guidance. What should I do in this or that circumstance? If you go and look for a book in the bookshop, it tells you the technique by which you can get guidance from God. You have got it all the wrong way around. What we need is not a technique. What we need is what God will do in our lives in such a way that we are transformed and you will find that without looking for techniques, God guides you step by step always. As we saw in Ps. 37:23, “His steps are ordered by the Lord.” God orders the steps of a man who is humble, who is meek inwardly, in his heart. These kinds of people do not have trouble with guidance. They are not forever confused as to what they should do next. What is the next step? How do I know the will of God? People who ask questions like this, their problem is not to know the technique of knowing the will of God; it is: “What will God do with you?” Start with saying, “Lord, so change me in my heart, that I will know Your will because of being the kind of person who can understand, who can listen to Your voice, and understand Your will.”
The fifth and last point is this: that the meek shall, of course, inherit the earth. That is wonderful! We return to this point again. What does ‘inherit the earth mean’? What is it that we are going to get? Well, here we must bear in mind this. It says in v3 of the Beatitudes: “The poor in spirit shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Are these two different things? that you inherit the kingdom of God and then you inherit also the earth? What does that mean? No, no, this is one and the same thing, because God’s kingdom will be established on this earth! God has not finished with this world. God is going to establish His kingdom on the earth.
That is why in the Lord’s prayer (as it is called) in Mt. 6:10, it says there, “Thy kingdom come”. Come where? Come to us! Come on this earth! Come to us. “Thy will be done, on earth” - here is where His will be done - “as it is heaven.” So when His kingdom comes upon the earth, His will will be done on the earth, as it is done in heaven. Bear this well in mind. God has not finished with this world. God’s kingdom will be established here and now on this world. It is already here, but it will be fully established when Jesus comes again. The subject of the kingdom of God is a very big one. It takes a lot of time to expound. The kingdom of God as it were, comes in stages, you might say. At that final stage when Jesus comes again, His kingdom will be fully established upon the earth. God will establish His government in the world and His saints shall reign with Him. To inherit the kingdom does not just mean you are going to be there. We are not just going to be twiddling our thumbs. We are going to be given tasks of reigning with Him. And those that God chooses to reign are the humble, the meek of heart. There will be a new heaven and a new earth and the saints shall reign with Him. We read of the reign of the saints in Rev. 5:10 and Rev. 22:5. When we have seen these things, we understand God’s wonderful purpose.
God is Looking for Men after His Own Heart
So, to sum up as we close, what do these Beatitudes tell us? What is it that the Lord wants to say to us here? You know what I see? I see that God is looking up and down the earth in this generation and looking for men after His own heart, and I feel very excited about this. God’s eyes are running to and fro over the earth at this present time because He is selecting the people who shall reign with Him, who are going to build His new earth, the kingdom of God. He is going to establish His kingdom. He is going to create a new society which is called the kingdom of God in which righteousness dwells, here upon the earth. He is going to build a new society by building new people, new men. That is His policy - His supreme and His divine wisdom - a new society because new people are in it. His eyes are running through the earth looking for people after His own heart.
You know every day we live, we live, as it were, under examination. God watches us how we handle every situation, every crisis. He is putting us through the test. As Peter says, “Your faith being tested by fire will be as pure gold.” [1 Pet. 1:7] God wants people of pure gold. He wants to watch how you handle every crisis because that is the fire testing your faith. If you are insulted, do you strike back? God is watching. God is asking, “Does he trust Me or does he trust his own right arm, which might not be all that strong anyway.” He is looking through the earth. He watches how you deal with people, how you handle your examinations, how you behave at work, how you make decisions. He is looking for a man, or for many people, after His own heart. God is looking for people after His own heart. In 1 Sam. 13:14, there the prophet Samuel said to Saul, “God has found Himself a man after His own heart to be king of Israel”; namely, David. Again in Acts 13:22, David is called “a man after God’s own heart who will do all God’s will.” God is producing a generation of new people - transformed men - and He is molding them into the image of Christ. He is going to establish this new society. That is why when Jesus came he proclaimed the kingdom of God: “Repent for the kingdom of God is coming.” God’s rule is coming. God’s rule is going to be established. God’s government will be established upon the earth. There will be a new generation of people. There will be peace, but because there are new people in it. Right now He is looking for those people.
I find that very exciting. What kind of new people? Well, He tells us, He says here in the Sermon of the Mount, these are the kind of people who will be in the kingdom of God: the people who are poor in spirit, who weep because of sin, who are humble. Now we know we cannot be any of these things, unless the Spirit of God comes into us and changes us. You see, this very meekness that is mentioned here is one of the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:23. Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit. It is not something we can attain in our own strength; we cannot make ourselves this kind of new man. It is something that God has to make us into that very image. I pray that when we listen to the Sermon of the Mount, we understand God’s plan for His kingdom; we understand God’s wonderful saving purpose; we understand God’s purposes for the world. You see God has not hidden these things from us. The Bible is so wonderful because it tells us, “This is My plan for the world. Wickedness is going to be wiped out. The wicked shall be cut off, but I am raising up people like these described here with these 9 Beatitudes. This is the kind of person I am going to make, a new man, in My kingdom.” Would to God that each one of you will find a place in that kingdom, that the Holy Spirit will come into your life and change you. You will experience His grace and His power!
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church