For those of you who drive, have you ever been in the left hand lane on the highway and the car in front of you is driving slower than you want? For those of you who don’t drive yet, you can imagine the classic slow walker in school or at a grocery store? It can get pretty infuriating the longer the ordeal goes on. Well, when you really look at what is going on here, it’s not that going that extra 5 mph for that 5 minutes saved is really that important for you. Let’s be honest, most of us would be embarrassed to the fullest extent if our social media usage was published as public information. None of us are missing that sixty seconds to a few minutes. The real thing going on here is a heart issue. That person in front of you is infringing on your freedom to do what you want to do. That is why those sorts of ordeals are so frustrating. I for one really enjoy freedom and independence. Insert ‘Merica exclamation here.
Well, today we are dealing with the opposite of this attitude. Matthew 5:5 tells us “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Sorry for setting up everyone, but you should have seen this coming.
I think we all have heard that “Meekness isn’t weakness” by now. So, I’m not going to spoon-feed you guys things you have already heard.
I am absolutely in love with this beatitude and the intent behind it. We all live in the “boss babe, power hungry, rise and grind” world that teaches that you need to take what you deserve. You need to walk tall and make sure that no one pushes you around. This beatitude is possibly the most counter cultural of all the beatitudes, and I love it!!!
Recently, I had an incident where I work that greatly embodies this idea. I think that it shows how the image of God is implanted in our psyche as well. I work as a residential counselor at a facility for children with severe behavioral issues. One of the things that they train you to do is sit down when a client is being physically aggressive. It shows the client that you are not a threat to them. When a client is physically aggressive like that, they are normally in fight or flight mode and are no longer really thinking. They are in complete submission to those survival instincts. Recently another staff and I had a client in our hallway who was physically aggressive. This client is a male around 6’ and weighs about 240 lbs. My natural instincts in this incident are to shove that human being through the drywall as a show of force. Natural and normal. That isn’t really how you calm someone down who is not really thinking. We were trying to use words to deescalate him, but it was failing. Finally, I had the idea to just try out this counterintuitive idea of sitting down. I sat down. This next part is crazy. I am on the floor completely vulnerable within his range easily, and instead of attacking me, the easy target, he attacks the other staff who is still standing. Sitting was a display of meekness. Standing was a display of being worried about an attack. Sitting made me entirely vulnerable. It left me exposed and easily could have led to me getting hurt. I laid down my proverbial sword and left my wellness ultimately in the hands of God.
Could winning that incident have been accomplished physically? Absolutely, it was two on one. We could have controlled that child’s behavior, but that doesn’t really accomplish anything. It never has. That client would have just done the same thing again, and he may learned but slowly over time we will succeed.
Hitler used fear and control to accomplish what he did, and the cultural change that he was trying to impact is gone. On the other hand, you have a meek leader like Martin Luther King Jr. MLK Jr. used words, civil disobedience, and love to create cultural change, and it still stands to this day. MLK Jr. embodied the characteristic of meekness in his movement. Racists came and used the physical means to try to stop him, but ultimately meekness won the history books.
The thing that really gets me about this beatitude is the reward for meekness is the exact opposite of what you would receive in this world for displaying meekness. Right?! How far do you think you would get in school or a corporate job by being meek? I used to think that you wouldn’t get anywhere, but now I believe you will get farther than you think. It seems like the meek rarely win in this world, but look at those who have caused true change, and I bet you will find a meek person behind them. Yet, our King in this passage is telling us that we will be happy and we will inherit the earth when we take on this quality. The very attitude that looks like will get us nothing in this world, in the age to come, will get us the whole earth.
This idea is modeled for us in perfection by Jesus. Jesus came as a servant in complete subjection to his Father. He walked this earth humbly, not trying to impose upon others, but instead he trusted in God’s faithfulness. The scene that really displays this idea for me is Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the way to his crucifixion. He didn’t enter Jerusalem on a beautiful glamorous horse wearing royal robes with a crown on his head looking like a king. He entered Jerusalem seated on a donkey in normal clothes. This is the city that he will eventually rule over, and he came into it humbly and submitted himself meekly to the will of the Father that sent him to the cross. The times when Jesus was the most aggressive were the times when his honor wasn’t damaged. Rather he was the most aggressive when he was fighting for God’s honor against evil and hypocrisy (i.e. the flipping of tables in the temple and his interactions with the pharisees). 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” This verse perfectly exemplifies how our Savior lived meekly on this earth, yet he was resurrected to be King over all the earth.
We don’t need to struggle for control over our lives and over those who surround us. We can trust that the results are in God’s faithfulness to us. We can submit that our Father who has never broken a promise or failed us will do what He says in Matt. 5:5. We can trust that one who has the whole world in His hands will protect, provide, and work towards our good when we are meek.
So, where in your life have you tried to use control and assert authority? Can you apply meekness to this area to change it? Where have you gone in hard and calloused, where you could go in soft and meek? Do you believe that God keeps His promises?