Forgiveness

Matthew 18 is an incredible chapter on conflict resolution and forgiveness.  It begins with the disciples asking Jesus who is going to be the greatest in the kingdom (vs. 1).  The chapter concludes with Jesus telling them that God’s harshest judgement awaits those who do not practice forgiveness “from your heart” (vs. 35).  The following is an overview of this chapter.

THE FATHER LOVES HIS CHILDREN – Matthew 18:1-6

Jesus answers the disciples’ question “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” by calling a little child to Himself.  Placing the child in front of them, Jesus says:

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

Ideally, we think of little children as innocent, trusting, vulnerable, obedient, loving and so much more.  Obviously Jesus is not just speaking of the chronological age of a person because because He instructs the adults around Him that they must change and become like them.  For these little ones, Jesus will say later, in verse 10: “For I tell you that their [God’s children’s] angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

THE FATHER’S JUDGEMENT  – Matthew 18:7-10*

Anyone who causes one of these children of the Father to stumble will meet their doom by the wrath of God.  The options that Jesus gives them are so  severe that they would be better off dead, sent to the bottom of the sea.  Their change must be as radical as cutting off a limb or plucking out an eye.  These options would be so much better alternatives for them than being sentenced to hell.  God’s angelic emissaries are watching!

THE FATHER SEEKS THE LOST – Matthew 18:12-14

Just like the man who leaves the 99 sheep safely in the fold in order to seek out the one lost sheep, so Jesus’ Father searches high and low for those who have been hurt and are wandering alone.  When He finds the lost sheep their Father, by Name, rejoices over them because He does not want to lose a single one.

THE FATHER’S PATH TO FORGIVENESS – Matthew 18:15-20

The process is simple, yet profound.  So much so that whatever is agreed to on earth comes full circle and is validated in heaven as well (verses 18-19).   Jesus concludes this section stating plainly: “For where two or three have gathered in My name, there I am in their
midst” (vs. 20).  So, how does the offended person go about seeking resolution to the conflict and forgiveness?

STEP 1

The person who has been hurt acknowledges the injury and damage and clarifies his or her thoughts enough to approach the one who has caused them to stumble.  The challenge is to privately confront the one who has hurt them in hope that they will listen and do whatever it takes to set things right (cf., verses 7-10).  When this happens, Jesus says, “you have won your brother”(vs. 15).  However, when the other person does not listen and is not interested in reconciliation, the process advances to the next step.

STEP 2

f the other person is not receptive to resolving the conflict Jesus encourages the one offended to bring along one or two more witnesses in hopes of resolving the issue.  Perhaps they will be able to moderate and offer advice with the goal of achieving an outcome with which all agree.  If this is not successful, Jesus offers a third step.

STEP 3

Jesus instructs that the offended person and the witnesses  “tell it to the church.”  If even this is unsuccessful, then Jesus gives the final, fourth step upon which to follow through.

STEP 4

Jesus says that if the person will not even listen to the church, “treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (vs. 17).

All along, the ultimate hope of the Father is that the matter being addressed will lead to repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation, even through the final step 4. Perhaps that is the reason for the later scribe’s addition of verse 11, based upon Luke 19:10: “ For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

More will be written about this and the next passages in a later blog.

THE FATHER DEMANDS THAT HIS CHILDREN  EXTEND FORGIVENESS TO OTHERS – Matthew 18:21-34

The chapter closes with Jesus’ poignant parable about a king who forgives a huge debt of one of his subjects.  The point of the parable is in the king’s unspoken expectation that the forgiven subject will extend a similar mercy to those indebted to him.  When he blatantly disregards this principle, strangling and imprisoning a man who owes him a comparatively insignificant amount, the king is livid.  The story ends with the king revoking his mercy, imprisoning the original subject and permitting the jailers to torture him until the debt is paid in full.

This story was Jesus’  answer to Peter’s question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  The moral of the story about mercy and forgiveness comes in the final verse: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

The following two posts will be focused upon both Matthew 18:15-20 and verses 21-34.

 


*Verse 11 is not included among the most reliable manuscripts.

Salt, Light & Law

Salt, Light & Law

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:13-20


Jesus’ discussion of persecution for righteousness and His name (Matthew 5:10-12) leads directly to further teachings about salt, light and law.  The section transitions with Jesus’ pronouncement in verse 20: “…unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  

Salt and light influence their surroundings by enhancing and illuminating respectively.  The question is, what do they enhance and illuminate?  My theory is that Jesus’ followers enhance the image of God that is stamped upon each and every human being.

BEATITUDE PEOPLE

By their very lives, God’s presence within those who exhibit the characteristics of the beatitudes calls forth the best in others, urging  the world to a higher standard and a deeper resonance with the will of God.  How do we know?  Because immediately afterwards, Jesus launches into an analysis of the importance of the Law and its application.

When confronted by the demands of the Law each person has at least two choices.  First, they can work to minimize it’s reach into their hearts and make it superficial and, consequently, easy to obey.  The other choice is to contemplate the deeper application of the law to the point that it becomes impossible to keep perfectly.  Jesus did not only fulfill the Law superficially but He also met its demands that reach to the very core of one’s heart.  It is this penetrating level to which He calls His followers in contrast to those whose so-called ‘righteousness’ is superficial, judgmental and self-seeking.

RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT PIERCES HEARTS

To illustrate, Jesus immediately launches into the true meaning of the sixth command to ‘not murder’ (Exodus 20:13).  God was not just legislating about the taking the physical life of another bearer of God’s image; although,  legal consideration was part of its purpose (cf., Genesis 9:6; Numbers 35:6-34).

There are other ways in which we murder the image of God in other people.  With the three examples cited by Jesus it is obvious that when we discount the value of another person by harboring anger against them, devaluing their worth or writing them off we have violated the spirit and intent of the command, “You shall not murder.”

These reactions to personal offenses are not the ways of those who are broken, who mourn over their sin, who meekly submit to God’s will, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who extend mercy to others, who are pure in heart and wo are devoted to making peace.  What naturally arises from this stark contrast is  the principle to which Christ is calling His followers: forgive from your heart as Jesus also commands (Matthew 18:35).

FORGIVENESS

For further discussion about how to forgive others CLICK HERE where we turn to the disciples’ question to Jesus about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 18. This entire chapter gives specific instruction about how Christ’s followers deal with conflict: forgiveness.

 

 

Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

-Matthew 5:9


Peacemakers who long to be like God have surrendered themselves to God’s will to pursue His righteousness and mercy with purity of heart.  How else could they be trusted to step into the midst of conflicted people?

Of course, when we talk about things like being children of God who want to be like their Father we must acknowledge that He is the ultimate, perfect peacemaker.  For, from the beginning of creation, knowing that man’s free will would lead him to rebellion and death, God took the initiative to reconcile this chasm between His holiness and our sin.  And so, Jesus Himself, in obedience to His Father’s will, chooses to make peace between God and man by giving Himself to suffer the penalty of man’s sin.  In essence, God demonstrates in the cross both the heinous nature of our sin and the depths of His love for us.  This is the action of the ultimate, perfect, complete, proactive, loving Father; our peacemaker.

GOOD FRIDAY & EASTER

And so, the one event in Jesus’ life that is inextricably linked to the ancient Jewish celebration of the Passover can be accurately calendared each year is Jesus’ crucifixion.  With that anchor point, then, we date His resurrection which we celebrate three days later, on the first day of the week: Easter.  This is not new information.  In fact, the whole world knows this and must acknowledge the date whether believer or non-believer.

The ultimate expression of God’s love for mankind is found in an ancient feared instrument of torture and death for criminals. “For God so loved the world,” the apostle John says, “that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Laying His live down for us, bearing the weight of our sin, God takes man’s place in order to bring peace between Himself and our brokenness.

A PROACTIVE GOD AS PEACEMAKER

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth…12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace….”

 – Paul – Ephesians 2:11-14a

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

-Paul – Romans 5:7-9

CONCLUSION

Peacemaking is not to be taken lightly.  For the two opposing parties a peacemaker may be able to negotiate agreements and wrestle with compromises that each side may choose to accept.  But it is important to bear in mind that peacemakers may also be called to give of themselves completely, without reservation, in order to bring two opposing parties together.  We know this because this is what God Himself did so we could have peace with Him.  Peacemakers who understand this are closer to grasping God’s initiative in hopes of becoming more like Him; like a child imitates his or her Father.

Persecuted

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:6, 10=20


The persecuted both connect with God’s righteousness (Mt. 5;6) and it’s practice (Mt. 5:10) which is the equivalent of salt, which makes the food it touches more flavorful, and light, which illuminates even total darkness.  Here, righteousness is equated with the person, the work and the name of Jesus.  Hence, Jesus/righteousness are one and the same.

The logical conclusion is to acknowledge that those who speak and live the life of Jesus can expect persecution.  This is verified in Paul’s writings to Timothy:

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

-Paul-2 Timothy 3:10-13

Note verse 12: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, ”  Added to Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, at this specific place where God’s righteousness is equated with Jesus, this makes it clear:  those who serve as salt and light to their communities in the name of Christ and influencing others for righteousness, can expect to be persecuted for the sake of Christ or God’s righteousness.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, those who are poor in spirit, who mourn over their sins, who submit to God’s will, who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, and who are merciful and pure in heart in their endeavor will be persecuted.

Persecuted.

Those who are followers of Christ, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who practice mercy to others and who are pure in heart can expect to be persecuted.  Persecution comes in many forms; but, it is directly connected to our pursuit in righteousness and our love for Jesus Christ.

 

Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.

-Matthew 5:8


King David asks: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord Who may stand in his holy place?”  His answer is simple: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalms 24:3-4).  Building upon this a thousand years later, James clarifies David’s proclamation: “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8) to emphasize a single-minded focus.

PURITY

Purity is a familiar word indicating a product to be unadulterated by other contaminants or anything other than what the product claims to be.  Examples would include pure honey or pure water or pure emotion such as the joy of our daughter after bungie jumping on the Corinth Canal in Greece.

Pure Joy

More to the point, purity of heart is a state of being transparent with no hidden agenda or deceit.  Clarity of purpose and meaning would be another aspect.  James tells us that pure religion that is acceptable to God is to care for those who cannot reciprocate and to disengage from any worldly activity that would distract us from our devotion to God (James 1:27).

CALL TO PURITY

Indeed, God calls us to be pure as He is pure.  The apostle John tells us that “when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).  Hence, the pure in heart, Jesus says, “they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

 

Mercy

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

-Matthew 5:7


Mercy is a natural step in the Beatitudes of Jesus as we turn from the citizenry requirements of the kingdom of heaven as people who love God with all of their heart, soul and strength.  Through poverty of spirit, mourning over sin, choosing to submit to the will of God and seeking His righteousness we now are ready to turn to the second part of the Great Command, loving our neighbors.   Like God, we love by extending mercy to all with a purity of heart that allows us to become peacemakers who accept persecution for the sake of righteousness and because of Christ.

To illustrate the power of God’s mercy moving through us to others Jesus told a parable about a man who owed a great debt to his king but could not repay (Matthew 18:21-35).  As the king was sentencing the debtor to prison the man pleaded for mercy.  Being merciful, the king forgave the debt and let the man go free.

However, no sooner had the one who received mercy from the king left he soon found a fellow citizen who owed him a comparatively insignificant amount.  However, rather than extending the mercy he had received to the one who owed him money he chose rather to choke him and have him thrown into prison because he could not repay the debt immediately.

Seeing the actions of the unmerciful man, the king’s servants reported what they had observed and they brought him back to the king.  “‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’” was the king’s question to the man (vss. 32-33) whereupon the king rescinded his mercy and cast the debtor into prison.  At the conclusion of the parable Jesus makes the point crystal clear:

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (vs. 35).  God’s mercy is never to be hoarded but distributed freely as He distributes sunshine and rain on the just and unjust alike (Matthew 5:44-45).

MERCY AND GRACE

John Stott makes a distinction between Grace and Mercy that is helpful.  Grace is pardon for sin and its condemnation while Mercy is compassion for sin’s consequences and its victims that leads to cure, healing and help (Christian Counterculture).

Grateful for mercy kingdom people are merciful not out of fear of losing the gracious gifts of their Father.  The motivation is the bottomless well or mercy that has been extended to them.  It compels them to pass along the blessing.  Why?  Because, having meekly submitted their will to their Father and because of their craving His righteousness they strive to be like Him, imitating Him (Luke 6:36).

ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

A point of distinction between true kingdom people and those who are not is not measured by how much they attend church or how many great works they do (Matthew 7:21-23).  Rather,  how they treat others out of gratitude for the mercy that has been extended to them is a critical consideration.  As James says: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

 

Bridges

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40


When asked which commandment of the law was most important, Jesus quoted the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:5) with the assertion that this was ‘the first and the greatest’ commandment.  Then Jesus followed up with another commandment that, He said,  was like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

LOVE GOD, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

“All of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” Jesus said.  So, it should not be a surprise to see these commands echoed in the beatitudes.

COMMAND #1: LOVE GOD

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

How does a person love God with the totality of his or her being?  Turning to the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12 we find a list of core attitudes of the heart for which the citizens of the kingdom of heaven must be known.

Contemplating an infinitely holy God we realize our brokenness and our reaction is poverty of spirit (vs. 3).  It is our sin that has separated us from God so we mourn the loss (vs. 4).  Turning to God for help we meekly choose to sacrifice our own will and strive to live by His with all we have (vs. 5).  To do this we hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness and not our own by feasting on His word, listening for Him in prayer and joining with other seekers as they worship Him and encourage each other (vs. 6).

THE BRIDGE

Having addressed the most important commandment Jesus mentions that there is another command that ‘is like it’.  In fact, it is as important as the first command because it is not possible to love God without also loving other people who are also created in His image.

It is important to resist seeing the first part, loving God, as isolated or detached from the second part, loving one another.  The bridge links the two to highlight how they are compatible with each other, not to contrast them one against the other.

So, we find that the second part instructs us about how the first part works itself our in our interactions with other people.  In other words, as we love others as ourselves, we illustrate God loves others because of our love for God and our desire to be like Him.

COMMAND #2: LOVE OTHERS

“Love your neighbor as yourself” might simply be stated to love others the way that God loves you and other people.  And so, the second set of beatitudes instructs us both about God’s mercy and how we are to extend mercy to others (vs. 7).  God’s purity or holiness is without hidden agendas or deceitfulness; therefore, we strive to be like Him by keeping our focus upon Him as we serve others honestly, with integrity and without guile or trickery (vs. 8).

Loving others is also characterized by a desire to bring peace to conflicting people just as God has reconciled us to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ (vs. 9 – see also 2 Corinthians 5:11-21).  Finally, loving others as God loves them goes against our natural tendencies of self-serving, self-preservation and self-promotion in order to please others.  Consequently, peacemakers will find themselves in situations where they are open to persecution, criticism and condemnation from others, just like Jesus did (vs. 10).

CONCLUSION

So, bridges are important tools for helping us relate one set of values with another.  They show us the importance of each and they link their interrelationships to each other.  This is especially true with Jesus’ teachings because “All of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  These two truths are timeless and they critically undergird our understanding of God’s love for us.

Righteousness

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

-Matthew 5:6


We are all familiar with hunger and thirst.  Physically it is a reality of life.  After 2-3 days of no fluids or 2-3 weeks of no nourishment

Question: how do we know when we are spiritually hungry and thirsty.  I have a theory about this.

Created in God’s image we are born with an innate, spiritual hunger and thirst for who we–humans, male and female–already are (Genesis 1:26-31) . This desire to satisfy our craving for God becomes distorted as we choose to satisfy ourselves independently of His will and write our own rules.

The desire never goes away.  By our choices, however, our sin leads us to distort and warp our desire for God into a god of our own making (Romans 1:18-32).

FINDING GOD’S WILL

This is where the logical progression of the Beatitudes makes so much sense.  For those who have chosen to meekly submit their will to God’s will the natural question is, “What is God’s will?”

For the seeker of God’s will, Jesus is very plain: you must hunger and thirst for His righteousness.  Where can it be found?  The Holy Spirit provides at least three sources for discovering God’s righteousness: 1) God’s word, 2) prayer and 3) God’s people.  The promise is that pursuing God’s righteousness will lead to satisfaction.  There are at least 4 ways this is true:

SATISFACTION

First, to Jesus’ disciples, they had the unique opportunity to witness God’s righteousness embodied in Jesus Christ Himself, day-in, day-out, over a period of three years.  Gathered around Him in this specific setting, the disciples would soon realize that this was more than just going through the motions (Matthew 5:20).

Secondly, to the crowds that were gathering around Jesus and His disciples, Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount left them astonished and amazed (Matthew 7:28-29).  Perhaps, at the time, it would convince them that not only could their won personal righteousness reach the perceived lofty nature of their religious leaders but, to be obedient to Jesus’ teachings, must exceed them.  Impossible!

Third, to fully understand the righteousness to which jesus referred would require a perspective gained only on the other side of the cross and the open tomb.  The apostle Paul provides that perspective again in 2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV): “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Finally, in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus assures that those who have been pursuing God’s righteousness in this world will be ready for judgement day.  What is so intriguing about Jesus’ story is that those who are going to eternal life, like those who are destined for hell, can’t recall ever seeing Jesus in their daily ministry.  What separates them is the fact that the lambs were practicing God’s righteousness without an awareness of Jesus’ blessing.  Their transformation into righteous people came as they become more like their Father because of their desire to be like Him, not to earn most favored status.  The activities of these seekers of righteousness quickly reveals its nature in their pursuit of  justice for others.

CONCLUSION

So, the satisfaction of the search for righteousness comes when we choose to follow Jesus and He, through His sacrifice, declares us righteous.  Flowing out of our brokenness, mourning and meekness we then seek out the will of our Father through His word and prayer in the midst of fellow seekers who are also pursuing the Father’s will.  This hungering and thirsting for His will is a passion that leads us upon a quest to be like Him in such a way that it becomes who we are; second nature.

And so, our desire for Him is brought back to the desire that God has implanted in our hearts from the beginning: to see His image realized in our lives so we can be righteous like Him.  What is truly amazing is that God has already made us like Him because of Jesus; we are only striving to live up to that which He has already declared us to be!

Meek

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

-Matthew 5:5 (NIV)


In English, being meek can easily be misunderstood as ‘weak’.  For example, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives the following definitions: 1) enduring injury with patience and without resentment, 2) deficient in spirit and courage, and 3) not violent or strong.  When we turn to different translations of the word ‘meek’ (NIV, KJV) we come away with renderings as “gentle” (NASB) or “humble” (NLT, GNT).

Meekness: Power Under Control

The original Greek word stresses strength under control.  The best  illustration of true meekness is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:39, NIV

The truth is that there is not an English word that truly represents the Greek original.  There are English words for ‘strength’ and there are English words for ‘gentle’.  Having the strength to act at will, yet choosing to restrain and to submit approximates words such as obedient, humble, and disciplined.

MEEKNESS: A BEATITUDE BRIDGE

Meekness is a critical part of the Beatitudes that both builds upon mourning and opens the door to righteousness.  Beginning with recognizing the disparity between God’s holiness and our brokenness (poor in spirit) we are brokenhearted to realize that our sin has been the cause of that separation (mourning).  Undone, we realize that our Higher Power knows exactly what we need and He provides the cure through His Son who bears our penalty Himself.

In meekness we accept the fact that God’s will is best and we devote ourselves to surrendering our own will and submitting to Him.  How does a person submit to God’s will?  The answer begins a life-long, impassioned quest for learning His will and applying it to our daily walk; we pray and examine His word, hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

INHERIT THE EARTH

When Jesus promises that the meek “will inherit the earth” it is true that He is speaking directly to the end times when Jesus comes again (Revelation 21).  I would suggest, however, that there is a way of understanding this promise that is present and real.  As we submit to Gods will we find that there is no location in God’s creation where He has not already gone, nor is there any place where the human heart can go that God has not already been.

For the meek there is no place on heaven or earth that is excluded to them for God’s will leads them there.  From the darkest corners of the human heart to the most horrific circumstances on the face of the earth, God is there and His presence can be reflected most brightly when His children shine the light of His presence wherever they go (Matthew 5:14-16).

Lifting Up Jesus Christ