Matthew 5:1-12 Part 3

“Blessed those who are meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (verse five)

On numbers of occasions I have observed one or more of our younger members responding to some unkind words spoken by another.  And it was evident, by the aggressive responses, that “self-image” was a real issue.  Under those conditions “reason” seems of little use…… retaliation comes forth like a flood.

I’ve witnessed younger members of my own family dealing out corporal punishment to siblings and peers, because of some perceived “infringement” on personal rights or territory or ownership.

Now, are these just children learning how to deal with each other in social arrangements? Could it be that “more” and “varied” social settings ought to be sought after in order to normalize our children’s social skills?  After all it is said, the more opportunities they have to interact with others, and the more diverse the conditions, the “better” they’ll become!  So, is it true that aggression (on the one hand) and retaliation (on the other) are just simply natural attempts, in the immature psychology, to learn how to deal with others?

The answer to those questions is “no,” “no,” and “no.”  Are these traits learned by our children by observation and through their environment?  Again….. “no.”  This is human depravity exerting itself.  It is the manifestation of basic, perverse human nature.    The little darlin’s know how to do it because that’s who they are.

And don’t say “that’s natural.”  It’s not.  It’s unnatural.  Psychology has it completely backward.  Man wasn’t made by God that way.  But we rebelled against Him, and He cursed us.  And, ever since, mankind has existed in an abnormal state of sin and death.

I’ve witnessed the agitated conditions of nearly everyone in this Church – due to some perceived or real offense you’ve suffered.  You men are extremely protective of your rights and territories – even among this small group of believers; and you’re extremely sensitive.  I’ve noticed the “pulling away” when you’re offended; and the aggressive tone with which you deal with each other when you think a duty has been neglected; and the antagonism with which you criticize each other – face to face, and behind each other’s backs!

And I’ve witnessed (and heard about) the verbal bludgeonings husbands and wives have given to each other (and are giving to each other) – and the children – in which the figurative blood is running in the halls behind your private front door!  The argumentative hammer is taken to each other as you protect your individual self.  You would rather be right than to be wronged, wouldn’t you?  You would rather hurt and cut and slice your spouse than to receive humiliation to your own perception of yourself.

You’ve seen me nail my own dear wife, in public, only a few Sundays ago in Sunday school, when I thought she was questioning my theology – my authority!

And I’ve seen you women in a desperate struggle to gain control of your husbands and your families.  And the reason you give most often for that is that somebody has to have control over it all!  But that’s not the real reason.  That’s only a cover to shield the real motive or reason – which is to have authority and to glorify self.  You want to build self-image.  It’s your nature to try to gain control!

And I’ve observed you young people talking back to your parents with rebellious attitudes, and trying to give instruction rather receive it.  Your perception of your rights of individuality and privacy are used to degrade and humiliate them, and you lie and deceive them to preserve your image of self.

I’ve spoken with most of you about difficulties you’ve encountered with other people.  Some, employers.  Some, neighbors.  Some, co-workers.  Some, brothers in the Lord.  And, usually, the difficulty has been some abasement of self-image.  And, just like our little ones, the only available response for you is some sort of retaliation – whether it’s a pulling away from fellowship, or angry words, or harboring resentment, or being offended, or striking back blow for blow, or word for word.  Most negative encounters with others is due to one thing – my self-image, my dignity. My rights, my feelings, my property.

“Blessed the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of the Heavens is theirs.  Blessed the ones mourning, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed the meek ones, for they shall inherit the earth.”


Now, please remember what has been said so far.  Our Lord Jesus isn’t describing some supernatural creature, or a pseudo-dispensational kingdom in the future.   And these words are not open to re-interpretation, they’re not open to your objections.  The ones who are poor in spirit are the blessed ones, and they, and they alone, have the Kingdom!  The ones who mourn their own sin – and the sins of others – and the death and suffering it causes, are the blessed ones.  And they, and they alone, are the ones comforted.  And the meek ones are blessed.  And they, and they alone, are the ones who shall inherit the earth!

Jesus is describing His followers – His disciples – as He preaches repentance to the Gentile nations.  All of them.  And, again, we are faced with the awful realization of the contrast between Jesus’ description of His own people and the world order.  And that even-more-awful realization of the contrast which exists between what is said here and what the Church is, and says, and does, today!  Blessed the meek ones, for they shall inherit the earth.

That must have been a real shocker for the Jews – especially the Sanhedrin and the priesthood in Jerusalem.  They were expecting the son of David to sit in the seat of world dominion, with all the kings of the earth paying homage to the Jewish king.  A kingdom restored to power, and splendor, and wealth, and glory.  And the whole earth would be theirs.  And they continued to react in the same way the Jews in the Nazareth synagogue reacted when they heard Jesus apply these very words, as they come from Isaiah chapter sixty-one, to the Gentiles, to the exclusion of the Jews!

And that’s still the same way the world order reacts.  It wants power and authority and dominion and influence and fame and glory and pride and self-exaltation – as if the very earth itself is their inheritance.

But Jesus says that the meek are declared blessed, and they alone shall inherit the earth.

The modern Church has even declared itself as having dominion over the spirit world.  And it has rejected the idea that believers are poverty-stricken in spirit and mourn their sin and possess the meekness of Christ – in favor of the positive-thinking, rocking, hand-clapping, spirit-filled, joy festivals – which we called, last week, the pseudo-joy syndrome.  And the Churches have built their huge organizations and power bases to fight against the organized enemy.  They’ve erected towers of Babel and battering rams of rebellion – trusting in institutions and organized revolt in order to change society.

But Jesus says the meek ones alone inherit the earth.

Now, before we come to a full description of the meek, let me just reiterate the connection between the points of Jesus preaching, as He describes His people.  And let me put it like this:  there is an utter helplessness and dependency to which men must be brought.  Jesus’ fundamental point is, of course, the first one.  We must be brought to see ourselves as we really are.  This is the reality of our depraved natures.  It is the fact that we are evil!   And the fact that we are unable to do anything about it – which leads, inevitably, to bitter mourning.

And with Paul, we cry, “O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  Our own indwelling sin – realizing that I am so helpless – seeing the sin within me – my best actions, thoughts and desires ruled by self and saturated with iniquity.  Mourning it.  Seeing the same war going on in family and Church.  Seeing the decadence and rotting and death and corruption in the world order.  The chaos and destruction – the suffering and pain and anguish – all brought on by the rebellion of self against God.  And we mourn.  Christ’s blessed people mourn.

And the third characteristic of Christ’s blessed people then is based on the first two.  And it is in some ways, even more difficult and searching.  I say that, not because there’s anything more difficult for men than to see their own din, acknowledge it, and mourn it; but it is more difficult in the sense that, now, we have to put Christ’s meekness into practice among people.

You see, we now become aware, epistemologically self-conscious, of what we really are, and the inevitable result of seeing that perversity and mourning that perversity is meekness.  And the war begins again, on another front, because my nature, my self, rebels against others acknowledging my sin – against others taking advantage of my poverty of spirit – against others using me in that state of mourning – the sin in my members continues to rebel against being humiliated.  The self- which I am to deny and follow Christ – hates being rejected and scorned and laughed at and used.  It is burdensome!

“Blessed are the meek ones, for they alone shall inherit the earth.”  Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly of heart.”  “Come unto Me, you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you – My yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


Now, perhaps the best way to approach this characteristic of one of Jesus’ blessed ones, is to begin with the Biblical examples.  Who is this one who is meek; and who is, in Christ, an heir to creation?  I’ve selected only a few of the more striking ones – but there are many from which you might choose.

Abraham was a man of great means.  But he didn’t exalt himself before God or men.  He submitted to God’s direction; and he did so without murmuring, without sulking, without rebellion or resistance.  And he took a similar position with respect to men.  Although Lot was a much younger man, when it came time to choose an area of the land to occupy, Abraham allowed Lot to choose first, choosing not to assert himself as the older head of the family.

Moses.  Did not retaliate.  He took his resistance to the Lord.

The same is true of David, especially in his relations with king Saul.  David had already been informed that he was to be king of Israel, but he exhibited an extraordinary meekness in suffering unjust and unkind treatment at the hands of Saul – without any retaliation.  This was a real man.

And so was Jeremiah.  This prophet was sent by God to suffer the maximum humiliation that a preacher of the Gospel can suffer.  Read the prophecy of Jeremiah and the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and see that he did not swerve from preaching the words of God, and he offered no resistance to the humiliations he received as a result of his preaching.

And, of course, the New Testament is equally as full of these as the Older Scriptures.  And, in looking for them, it is easy to see that those who are recorded by God in His Eternal Word as the heroes of the faith were also the ones who were blessed by God with Christ-like meekness.   They were zealous for God’s honor, not self-honor!!

Which leads us directly to Jesus Himself, Who, even though He is the second Person of the God-head, and Who thought it not robbery to be equal with God the Father, emptied Himself of His glory, became man – having been birthed from the body of a woman – humbled Himself as a servant, and submitted to death on the cross!  And this at the hands of His enemies.  He suffered persecution, and scorn, and derision; He was bruised and beaten, spat upon, laughed at – all the time in utter submission to His Father – and then received the sin of all His people as His Own, and took the punishment!  And He did it all without regard to His Own human emotions, and He did it all without retaliation!

And, now, as we come to a more thorough examination of this characteristic of all of Jesus’ followers, let me please warn you, as I did last Lord’s Day, that there can be no objections to the plain words of Christ.  Don’t go searching around in your minds for ways to take a little of the sting away!  Don’t look for extenuating circumstances by which you can let yourself off the hook.  Don’t look for specific instances in our life where the meekness of Jesus doesn’t apply!  I know you’re going to do that, because I’ve been doing it all week!  This is the sword of Christ, but it cuts clean!  It leaves no dirt and bacteria in the wound, so receive the cut graciously – and meekly.

I also said last week that the characteristics of Jesus’ blessed people are not to be in any way confused with the innate personalities and dispositions of some people.  These characteristics do not occur naturally in fallen humanity.  They are owned only by those who have received the proclamation of “blessed: by our Lord Jesus.  Some dogs can have sweet dispositions – you see, only Jesus’ disciples are meek!

But from an understanding of his depravity, and a mourning of his sinful condition, comes the realization that there must be an absence of self.  Self must be denied.  The meek one isn’t boastful and doesn’t assert the self.  He’s so ashamed of self that he knows there is nothing to boast about!

The meek person doesn’t demand anything for himself, and he doesn’t take all his rights as claims.  He doesn’t make demands of his neighbor for his position, or his privileges, or his possessions, or his status in life; and his goal in life comes from Philippians chapter two:  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  You see, Christ didn’t assert His rights.  He deliberately did not.  And that’s the point to which you and I have to come.

Let’s go further.  The meek one isn’t sensitive about self.  He’s not always watching himself and his own interests; and he’s not on the defensive.  We all know about this don’t we?  Isn’t this one of the greatest curses of the depravity of man?  This sensitivity about self?  We spend all our lives watching ourselves! - worrying about ourselves – protecting ourselves – covering up self!  And when there’s trouble we pity ourselves!  And for some reason others never understand us!  This is the opposite of meekness.

Self-pity.  What hours and days and years we waste doing that!

But the follower of Christ puts that away.  He’s finished with it.  To be meek, then, means you are finished with self; and you have come to see that you have no rights at all!  You come to realize that nobody can harm you, because you see your own nature!  And you realize that nobody can say or do because you realize that you deserve that, and much more!

So the one who is truly meek is one who is amazed, sincerely amazed, that God or man treat him as well as they do.  And that “absence-of-the-old-self” permeates his whole demeanor with respect to God first, and men.

You may remember the way the apostle Peter put it in the second chapter of his first letter.  This is what he said:  “Follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:  Who, when He was reviled, reviled not in return; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously.”

That means patience and longsuffering when we are mistreated or offended.  And Peter argues, here, that there is no credit if, when we are punished for our sins, we take it patiently; but if we do well and suffer for it and take it patiently, then that is the thing that is praiseworthy in the sight of God.  That’s meekness!   

 No retaliation.  No angry defense against offensive words and actions of others.  We have nothing to defend.  God defends us!  “I will repay,” He says.  That’s a promise to us!

You see, self has to disappear.  Why do we defend self, when it’s evil?  Why should we, as followers of Christ, continue to defend that which is evil?  If what you have is nothing, why waste yourself protecting it, and watching it, and pitying it, and worrying about it, and being sensitive about it, and anxious over it?  Put it away!  Follow His steps, Who, when He was reviled, reviled not in return!  And when He suffered did not retaliate.

There’s no place for pride in your life or mine.  We have nothing of which we could possibly be proud.  You must abandon self, for that is meekness!

And you must remove from your minds that meekness is compatible with great strength – and that meekness is compatible with authority – and that meekness is compatible with power – nonsense!  Meekness is our strength.  Meekness is our authority.  Meekness is our power.  Because it is the strength and power and authority of Christ!  Self is gone – Christ reigns!  In Him we live and move and have our very being.  And He has gotten Him the victory!

The earth is His.  He received it, according to Psalm two, at the decree of God.  And He was raised the Son of God with Power.  And, as Paul says, “He must increase and I must decrease.”  Christ must live in us with Power and strength and authority.  And self must be put out of the way.  It must decrease as Christ increases.

But the creation is His.  And the Scripture says that when He is finished cleansing it, He will return it pure to His Father.  And as we put the old sinful self away, that creation becomes increasingly ours.  And as long as the old sinful self is there, there is no power and strength and authority to complete the victory, which has already been definitively won at the resurrection and ascension.  But when self is gone, and Christ’s authority is there in its place, then that is dominion!  There is the Kingdom!  And there is our inheritance!  The victory is Christ’s and ours in Him.  The dominion is His, and ours in Him.  The inheritance is His, and ours in Him.  Matthew records Jesus’ words carefully, and Jesus says the earth is the inheritance of the meek ones.  And we’ll see no victory in Tyler or anyplace else until Christ has dominion, and His people are poor in spirit – mourning sin – and meek!

To whom does the Kingdom belong?  And here is a right that you may claim – and jealously guard – who has a legal deed to this earth?  God gave it to Jesus, and Jesus says it’s the inheritance of the meek!  He was meek and lowly of heart, so we know it belongs to Him; but there are other heirs, aren’t there?

And they are the ones who follow Him, who are His disciples, who pattern themselves after Him; who truly see their own poverty of spirit, who mourn their sin, and who put self away so that Christ might have the dominion.

As I close, let me finally say that the suffering which we receive as Christians in this land is very light.  Mostly just apathy, scorn and laughter, with occasional harsh language, although we do deeply mourn the humanist incursions into our society.  And I hope retaliation does not occur.  Heavy persecution may come later.  Not soon I hope.

But as long as the men of this church continue to project self into their dealings with each other, there will be no expanding the dominion of Christ in Tyler.  The meek are the heirs of the earth.  As long as the self-image of the women of this church is used to gain dominion over their husbands and their homes, there will be no expanding the dominion of Christ in Tyler.  The meek are the heirs of the earth.  As long as our children protect their own images among their friends and with their own parents, there will be no expanding the dominion of Christ in Tyler.  The meek are the heirs of the earth.

The meekness of Jesus’ disciples is, first, with reference to God – then with reference to family and with the brotherhood in Christ.  And then, with reference to the world.  When meekness is here, then there will be dominion there!