Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sermon On The Mount - Gentle Giant

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

So, I am making some oatmeal one morning and Bonnie is busy writing away. We are talking between rooms and I am looking at a bag of brown sugar with a piece of bread in it. I know why the bread is in there, but my concern was that it would eventually go moldy, so I asked her if I should put it in the freezer. I am thinking that frozen bread won’t go moldy. She is thinking I am talking about something else. The next day I am making oatmeal and I am complaining how hard the sugar is, because it was frozen. It was then that we realized we were talking about different things. The Beatitudes are like that. We read an English word and think we understand what it is all about. Often, we don’t.

The word for “meek” carries none of the meanings associated with weak. The meek, (hoi praeis) has been translated mild or gentle. The word was originally applied to the outer characteristics of things and people. It was not considered a virtue or an attitude. Today’s meaning of meek has been watered down to the point it has lost most, if not all of its true meaning.

The image most closely associated with "meek" and its meaning is that of the horse. The Greek historian Xenophon used the very same word Jesus used to describe a horse broken to saddle, so that it is under control.

A horse is a powerful animal. It is a symbol of strength in the Greek world. Wild and untamed the horse is a useless animal. It cannot be used for any of the tasks man has for it. However, if the horse is broken it can be used for all kinds of tasks for which it was created. It can be tamed and then taught. A tamed horse is a picture of power under control.
The other common analogy is the willow tree, that sways and bends in the wind, but never breaks because of its strength.

The Words
Meek (Gentle): Meekness is the absence of retaliation and the presence of quiet gentleness (and the attitudes behind those behaviors).
· Meekness is not about self-vindication.
· Meekness is not just reflective of outward behavior… it goes deeper than that.
· Meekness is not preoccupied by self (this is not natural, but supernatural).
· Meekness is an unwrought grace of the soul, and it is firstly and primarily to God. Remember that picture of the horse broken to a saddle? In a way, we are the horse, and God is the one who sits on the saddle.
· Meekness is the fruit of power, of control, not the residue of weakness.
· Meekness is living understanding we have the infinite resources of God at our disposal.
What does this look like? Defensive driving, rather than aggressive driving. But it is also in everyday life.

· Birthright
· Reward as a gift, on condition of obedience
· Cf. Jacob and Esau.

All of this physical stuff.

The paradox:
“The one who is meek may be as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but they have stopped being fooled about themselves. They have accepted God’s estimate of their own life. They know they are as weak and helpless as God declared them to be, but paradoxically, they know at the same time that in the sight of God they are of more importance than angels. In myself, nothing; in God, everything.” AW Tozer

Take it home:
1) Focus on the things of God! People are often aggressive because they are living in their own strength, pursuing what is good to them. The violence that fills the Old Testament is because people went their own way. And what is happening around us today? If you want to live in meekness, in quiet strength, begin by pursuing the things of God. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
2) When it comes to men, owe no man anything but love. Romans 13:8 All the stuff around us is temporary. This pulpit, this building, our vehicles outside, the places we live in, even the country we live in – these are all passing. Over the last 2,000 years, though, God has delighted in love. God inhabits the praise of His people, as well as the love of their actions. You want to be meek? Love your neighbor.

3) Trust God to look after you. Isaiah 11:4 “But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth…” At the heart of our journey through life is what we will put our faith in. You cannot be truly gentle unless you are sold out to God. In each of these Beatitudes, Jesus is calling us to give up the deed to our life to Himself.

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