Thursday, October 17, 2019

Signs Of Life | The Beatitudes (Part II)

Part II of a study of the Beatitudes. Find Part I Here!  

"Blessed are the meek..."


In our ladder of light, the third "rung" is meekness. How do we define it? Maybe it would be easier if I start by telling you what meekness is not...

Meekness is not quick-tempered, ready to resent real or imagined disrespect, domineering, offended, or offensive (obnoxious), it does not have an attitude of superiority, is not always annoyed, doesn't have to knock others down. Meek people aren't proud, harsh, angry, revengeful, or ambitious. 

You can thank Charles Spurgeon for this extra convicting description. Trust me when I say, I do not like hearing this any more than you probably do. I demonstrate most of these things before I even leave my house in the morning. Especially before coffee. But the fact is, people who are progressing in their spiritual journey do attain this. They have been humbled, as we discussed in Part 1, and are ready to be thought of as less important by other people because they have surrendered their pride and self-righteous attitude. 

Watchman Nee, one of my favorite theologians, wrote about meekness in his book, The Release of the Spirit, which I highly recommend! Here is a meekness checklist, according to Nee:

  • Approachable and available – Meek people have their eyes up always - meaning they don't ignore or repel people. They are safe place for people to share their troubles. 
  • Highly Sensitive – Meek people are alert to the atmosphere of God’s people - they are responsive to others, and shed tears easily. 
  • Mutually Corporate – This means one has a readiness to ready to receive from all - as in they don't feel like their wisdom or experience or stature is superior to others, and they don't always think they are there to fix and mentor everybody else. They understand that we are all related as a body, so the needs and weaknesses of others are their burden to share as well.
  • Spiritually Receptive - submissive to God’s will, and flexible to his word, no matter how it is delivered (not critical, stubborn, haughty) – they see circumstances of difficult people or situations as opportunities, trials of His grace that will prove their faith and obedience; they are content
Meekness is misunderstood in our culture and we often resist it because we don't want to be dominated or taken advantage of. But that's why this is the third step - by the time we begin to demonstrate meekness, we have already embraced our own limitation, so we aren't focused on defending ourselves or proving dominance and superiority. It’s security, self-awareness and self-control to the highest, most admirable degree. And the amazing thing is that God really shows up for us and uses us so powerfully when we get out of the way and let Him!

Case in point: Moses is described as being meek - when his leadership was under scrutiny of his siblings, and others, he continuously bows low in response to their ugliness. The result is that God comes to his defense.  Esther obeyed kingdom protocol in a life and death scenario, waiting until the opportune time came to make her self-controlled request known. God showed up for her, aligning every detail, and many lives were saved through her actions. Who does God seek to touch, save and bring to their knees through your self-sacrificing meekness?

The blessing for the meek is that they inherit the land. What does that mean practically?

  • They enjoy what they have. They don’t have to come out on top, they are happy right where God has them. Because they know He has them!
  • They are glad to know others are happy. They are not competitive.
  • They are optimists who always extract the precious from the worthless, choose to see the good.
  • They inherit the promised land of the Kingdom of God; another sign of heavenly royalty that is in total opposition to earthly power moves
Who doesn’t want to live that kind of victorious life? Loving what you have. Celebrating others in what they have. Not having to be striving for superiority. Peace. Contentment. Yes please!

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..."

Let’s think about hunger and thirst in a physical sense.

To hunger is to have a physical appetite, craving, an awareness of an emptiness that needs filling. There is an expression that hunger will break through stone walls - it's a powerful force, and a continual force - but to hunger is to be alive!

To thirst is literally life threatening - you drink or you die.

We long for lots of things in this life - honor, appreciation, attention, comfort, safety, love - but as we spiritually mature, our craving turns away from those things and longs to be filled with righteousness. 

When we place our  faith in Christ Jesus, He bestows on us His righteousness. But as we mature spiritually, as we spend time in His Word and among His people, our desire to close the gap between what He calls us and what we really are becomes more and more urgent. We begin to move from a place of just wanting to be "reckoned as righteous" to actually longing to really be righteous. We want the inside of our minds, our wills, and ultimately our behaviors - to actually "match" the proverbial robe of righteousness that Jesus gives us to wear. Another word for this is sanctification. So many people have the misconception that this matching is a prerequisite of being in a relationship with Jesus. They think they have to get things right before they come to a holy God. But Jesus didn't make that the foundational step of faith. He tells us we must begin by acknowledging that we don't have what it takes to get right, to be good enough - to be spiritually poor. To let Him empty us of our vision and our ego are the first steps. Because it's when we're finally empty of self that we are ready, hungry for filling and receptive to being filled with His wisdom, teaching and commands. That's when we're finally ready to let Him transform us. When holiness becomes a priority in our lives - every day - when that is what you seek to fill and fuel you - it's a fantastic indicator that you are truly, spiritually alive. 

So what do you crave in this life?

Next post, we'll transition in to how these first several beatitudes, which have all been internal postures, propel outward over time, working their way in to the way that we view and interact with those around us.

Until then....blessings!

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