CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
Pastor Jurgen Rausch
“Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”
Mitt Romney & the Political Life
I watched the new ‘Mitt’ doc the other night. It is an incredible six-year journey following Mitt Romney as he aspires to the office of the Presidency.
It was made clear that this video was not political propaganda and was not to be released until after the last general election. The video has now been released by Netflix, only after he has slipped back into obscurity.
As someone who has lost twice in his attempt to the Presidency, this man will never run for high office again. There was no political advantage in releasing the video. The purpose was simply to show the private man.
When you think of the typical American success story you think of power, wealth, prestige and arrogance.
While Mitt Romney had money, no doubt about that, he comes across as a humble, mild mannered man who has his share of self doubt, laughs easily at himself, bows his knees to the Creator often, listens easily to the advice of his family and who seems to walk gently upon the earth.
While you can see the confidence and success of this American family, you do not get the sense of arrogance, being puffed up with pride and the typical pushiness and loudness of how most see Americans.
Instead what you walk away with is a sense of humility and dare I say it, meekness.
Hard to imagine that anyone in America with political aspirations and the means of great wealth would ever be called meek.
Most are buffoons, arrogant, pushy, manipulative and loud. Romney seemed to be none of those. In some ways, he really does embody the idea of meekness.
Meekness Today, Meekness Then
Why do I mention meekness? Because meekness is the third attribute in a list of seven that are to characterize those who want heaven’s applause.
“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” Jesus said.
I can tell you that this idea of meekness is among the least understood of all the attributes Jesus laid out before us.
It wasn’t understood well then, and it isn’t understood well today.
In the days of Jesus there was talk of a Messiah-King who would boldly ride on a white horse into Jerusalem to conquer the despised Romans and bring about a religious and political freedom only dreamed about.
They wanted Jesus to be a warrior king on a white stallion who would use his power when and if needed to conquer and overcome.
What does he do? He comes riding into town on a humble donkey signaling that his kingdom and power were measured in meekness, and in the path of non-resistance instead of the path of the sword.
Instantly he was at odds with his world, as He is with our world.
In our day the idea of meekness is seen as weakness, spinelessness, wimpy with a mild temperament. The meek will never inherit the earth, will never create wealth and will always be numbered among the have-nots.
It’s the Donald Trump’s of this world who will inherit the earth, so most think.
Yet some of the most influential people who accomplished great things were among the meekest of their day. Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind as modern day examples of non-resistance and meekness.
Biblically, Jesus and Moses are the two great examples of meekness.
Jesus is quoted as saying: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mth 11:29.
Of Moses it was said, “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Nu. 12:3
Jesus had great power at his disposal, could easily have overcome anyone and anything in opposition to him.
Peter really didn’t have to resort to the sword to try to protect Jesus (look what it got him: nothing but an earful J).
The mere declaration of who Jesus was at his arrest was enough to have the arresting soldiers fall backwards as though dead:
“When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” Jn. 18:6
Speaking of his arrest, what incredible restraint Jesus showed! That, my friends, is meekness in action.
He could have called ten thousand angels to do his bidding, and all that happens is soldiers fall back so as to leave no doubt that he had the power to destroy them had he wanted to do so.
Meekness is not weakness, but incredible restraint in the midst of the great provocation.
When Jesus declares who He is (I Am), the soldiers fall back. While it is impressive, it is still a pretty humble display of Jesus' power - after all He could have destroyed them all with fire from heaven . Jesus often shows His majesty in ways that speak of humility and weakness. David Guzik
Meekness as Incredible Restraint
Meekness is indeed incredible restraint. It is not bombastic, arrogant, pushy and loudmouthed. It is the opposite of being a bully. It is incredibly self-restrained.
“The basic element of meekness is equilibrium – the full and complete possession of all the faculties of one’s being, an inner mastery…..the captain at the helm of his ship in the midst of the storm, who, in full control of the vessel, guides the ship steadily through the storm.” Foy Wallace
In other words, the master of your own domain. That’s how Moses could be among the meekest of his generation and yet, along with his contemporary Joshua, was among the most courageous, strong and fearless.
He was a great commander-in-chief who led Israel into mighty battles.
So I hope to put to rest the idea that somehow to be meek means to be timid, passive and an easy pushover.
If anything, it takes more power and strength to be self restrained in the face of provocation than to give in to every feeling of rage that rises up.
Meekness & the End of Self
The question this morning is ‘Where does this meekness come from?’ Is it only a matter of great self-restraint, and thus only the most disciplined among us are the meekest?
It may actually surprise you to discover how meekness comes about. Let me show you the bigger picture.
You remember the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
These Beatitudes, or characteristics, that Jesus gave were not random ideas that happened to land on paper in this particular order; but instead they follow a definite train of thought and the development of a grand idea.
The grand idea of the Beatitudes is realizing the fullness of everything that God wants for you in this life; upon which you build your life.
God wants to see the House of God or the Kingdom of God built out in your life.
The shape and feel of it differs for every one of us since we are all such unique individuals (what that looks like will be a reflection of your DNA, values, upbringing, status in life); and thus no two Houses of God, no two expressions of the Kingdom of God look alike.
God’s dream for you looks different from God’s dream for me. But I tell you this: every individual expression of the Kingdom or House of God has in its makeup the idea of mercy, purity and peacemaking.
“Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers.” – and you will hear more about this in the weeks to come.
Every individual expression of the House of God will have aspects of mercy, purity and peacemaking. That is what’s being built out.
Now here’s the problem: Unfortunately this isn’t new construction.
You are not starting with a piece of land, where all you need to do is lay a foundation upon which you build your house of God.
You are not starting with a clean slate, but instead it’s a deconstruction first and then a new construction second. You are tearing down the old so as to build the new.
The first three Beatitudes deal with the deconstruction of the old.
Poverty of spirit is realizing that whatever I have built is really in shambles and in ruins.
Mourning is how I feel over the state of my life and the lives of many others as I see what sin has done to all of us.
This brings me to meekness.
Remember what I said meekness was, namely, the master of your own domain.
“… an inner mastery…..the captain at the helm of his ship in the midst of the storm…” as Wallace wrote.
Meekness means great self restraint in the face of provocation and it is linked to when deconstruction happens.
It has nothing to do with self discipline but with the deconstruction of your old self!
Remember that your old house is being torn down. You are coming to end of self. You are running into roadblocks and walls, and realizing that there isn’t a whole lot of good in me; and that my life – my old life – is a mockery and a façade that needs to be torn down.
This becomes more and more obvious as strips are taken off me and I see the rot inside, especially as I bump into various people or situations.
I see the rot. I see how carnal I can be; how crude, angry and thirsty for revenge; how quickly pride and arrogance rears its head; how I am a worrywart and prone to melancholy – or a host of other reactions.
As my old house is shown for what it is, and I see the rot and poverty of spirit; I come to this place of repentance and mourning which is how I dismantle my old house piece by piece until there is nothing left.
The place of where nothing is left and I am at the end of myself is the place of meekness.
Meekness is the place where I know that I am stripped down and have no rights, no privileges, will not assert myself, will not retaliate and am thrilled that despite myself God still loves me and wants to build his Kingdom House on this old land!
The Meek Will Inherit the Earth
Such people will inherit the earth, I tell you! What do I mean?
From such a person you can never take anything away since they have nothing left and everything they have is a gift from God and by His amazing grace.
“Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”
He who has nothing cannot lose anything more, and everything added will be undeserved gain.
Everything given will be a bonus and a gift. Every compliment undeserved. Every promotion a surprise. Every gain a gift. Every blessing an undeserved inheritance.
“They will inherit the earth.” An inheritance is something undeserved; not earned, not owed to you; no sense of entitlement to it, nothing to grab as though it’s yours.
“They will inherit the earth,” Jesus said!
IF IT IS the meek who will inherit the earth, this is perhaps because the earth, God's earth, the real earth, can be had on no other terms. It is a gift. Or, in the words of the beatitude, it is an inheritance.
Simon Tugwell, The Beatitudes
The idea of things received as an inheritance is key. An inheritance is a gift, unearned and undeserved.
THE LAND is always inherited; it is not taken. It is not ours to take, but God's to give. Thus we have no absolute right to it.” Michael H. Crosby, Spirituality of the Beatitudes
So are we talking about land? Is that what is meant by ‘inherit the earth’? Biblically, inheriting the earth is not the physical earth or material things but spiritual blessings. The Promised Land in the OT is as much about the blessings of God as it was about a piece of land!
The meek will not become great landlords because they are meek (they may become great landlords for other reasons).
Inheriting the earth means inheriting the blessings of the Lord. The meek will inherit the earth!
He showers the blessings of God upon the meek! Israel understood that the land of Canaan was a type of heaven and to inherit the land became an expression of those blessings.
So not only can you not take anything away from me (since I have nothing of my own) and not only is everything that comes to me an underserved gift, but because I have nothing God gives me everything!
Meekness is the key that unlocks the blessings of heaven.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”Eph2:1-3
This was our old house of spiritual poverty, which we have deconstructed through our mourning and has brought us to the place of emptiness and meekness.
It is at that place where God begins to fill us with his blessings:
“4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:4-10
Meekness has given us the blessings of the Lord. All of it is undeserved.
Scott Street MB Church invites you to write your reflections and thoughts about the weekly messages shared by lead Pastor Jurgen Rausch.