Quiet Conqueror

“Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

Movies where the good guy comes out the winner are always a big hit; especially when they do it with flair. James Bond, Rocky, Rambo, The Fast the the Furious. These all have powerful villains and big actions (even explosions) from more powerful heroes. In the end, the strong prevail and the bad guy is soundly defeated. Even Thanos’ victory in one movie was short lived (like we knew it would be) and he ended up disappearing in the Marvel franchise. You know it’s coming, but there’s something in you that just wants to stand up and shout “That’s what I’m talking about! Take him out!”

As much as our culture and our movie industry wants to buy into that kind of narrative, there’s another viewpoint here in the Beatitudes. Depending on your view of meekness, it’s anywhere between the nerdy accountant who hides in the corner during a gun fight to the soft-spoken, voice-of-reason type who gets overruled by the powerful just before the battle takes place. But Jesus comes to us with a reversal of thought again. The meek will inherit the earth. We don’t see that from Hollywood. We don’t even see that much in reality as we watch the rich and powerful leverage their way into tremendous positions of influence. So how could Jesus say that and how does it work?

Let me give you a couple of quotes to help us get a focus on what it means to be meek. Because I can assure you it doesn’t have the slightest connection to a word it often gets mistaken for: weak.

“A disciplined or controlled spirit” – David Augsburger

“Not cowardice or emotional flabbiness…not a lack of conviction.” John MacArthur

“A temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing or resisting.” Kenneth Wuest

It seems to me that some Biblical examples would help us get some handles on what it is like to watch the meek inherit the earth.

Abram was promised land, descendants and blessing from God. But during one testy conversation between he and his nephew, he offered for Lot to take the pick of the land before them, promising that he would head the other direction. Read it here. If you know the end of that story, God used that kind, “meek” response on the part of Abram to get him exactly where He wanted him, and to inherit everything He had in store for him.

King David was chased away temporarily from Jerusalem by his own son. Rather than going to war, he left the area. As they were leaving, a sore loser from the previous kingdom threw rocks and dust at David and his entourage. When the captain of David’s forces offer to kill him, David refused, choosing to trust God to bring about His own determination as to who would be king. Read about it here. Again, history would prove that the refusal to act like the big dog paid off in God getting glory by doing what man could not.

The final example I’d offer you is Jesus Himself. A week prior to his death, Jesus entered Jerusalem to the shouts and accolades of the people. But he didn’t come in as a conquering hero. He came in meekly, riding on the colt of a donkey. And, like I said; a week later, the same crowd called for His crucifixion. He purposely avoided winning by force even though he knew he could. And, of course less than a week later, Jesus had come back to life again, defeating all the powers of hell.

So how to the meek inherit the earth? By refusing to focus on themselves and their desire to “win.” By making God’s glory their highest goal. By letting go of their desire to control the outcome and trusting God to use them however He wants to. When we do this, we find ourselves squarely in the center of what God is doing in the world (and on earth), and He always wins.

Stop fighting. Quit stressing over the outcome. Submit to God. Walk in the Spirit. These are the keys to living a life that is meek. And this is how we inherit the earth.

Down is Up

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (ESV).  It’s about servanthood.  It’s about giving up my life for the sake of others.

Simple enough, right?  The way up is the way down.  The way to the penthouse is through the basement.  It preaches very easily.  But is it really easy?  

The reality is that it comes down to motivation.  If I am trying to get to the “top,” then I am on the wrong path.  But even if I am trying to be a servant of others with the desire that it will eventually get me to the “top,” then I’m still on the wrong path; it’s still about me getting to the top.

So the real challenge is that I’m suppose to do what is best for other people.  I read elsewhere that if you want to test your leadership motivation, you can ask yourself a simple question.  Whose best interest am I seeking to serve?

That comes out in Matthews’ record of Jesus’ words: “…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.” (20:26)  According to Skip Moen, that word “servant” originally mean to wait on tables.  

I like that illustration.  The best waiters are the ones who are practically invisible, but always show up at just the right moment to do just what you need to enjoy your meal the most.  They don’t hover over you trying to earn a tip; they don’t try to persuade you to get what they like best on the menu.  They do everything they can to make your visit to their area of the restaurant one that will result in you returning again.

That’s my job.  It is my task to serve the needs of those God puts in my path.  I am to anticipate needs (which requires focused attention).  I am to go out of my way to be useful to them. It’s simple.  But it’s not easy.  I’d rather be the one at the table than the one waiting on the table.  Today I’m going to work on looking for some tables to wait on.  I’m going to look for someone else whose best interest I can seek after.  After all; if Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28); why would I expect to do any differently.

It turns out that the bottom isn’t the WAY to the top.  The bottom IS the top.  The whole view is radically reversed when I take a kingdom perspective.