Attitude Adjustment #3 - The Waiter

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 5
Subject: Meekness; Beatitudes; Trust in God
Series: Attitude Adjustment - The Beatitudes
Introduction

We come now to the third Beatitude. The first Beatitude spoke to us about the fact that we are bankrupt in our flesh before a Holy God, reminding us that no flesh can strut in God's presence. Then, we came to the second Beatitude, which spoke to us regarding the value of mourning and being sorrowful about our sin problem. When we see how flawed we are before God, it ought to cause us to be broken- hearted about it. The Word of God clearly states that a broken and contrite heart God will not despise. Isaiah was broken when he saw the Lord high and lifted up as recorded in Isaiah 6. James penned in James 4:8-9 that we should approach God, see our sin, confess and grieve over our sinful nature.

Now we come to the third Beatitude. Remember that each Beatitude builds upon the preceding Beatitudes. Each new Beatitude flows out from the other. So this third Beatitude brings us a deeper understanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus.

If you can, and if you will, stand to honor the Word of God and the God of the Word. Matthew 5:5 reads, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (NKJV)

Most people do not think of meekness as something to be admired; in fact, human nature leads us to believe that we should never reveal a meek, docile, or submissive spirit. An advertisement a couple of years ago used the tagline, "Never let'em see you sweat!" The world honors arrogance, conceit, pride, and self-confidence, but God ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Besides, most people have no idea what these words from our Lord regarding meakness actually mean. If I asked you to describe what it means to honor the Lord through meekness, you might have a difficult time explaining it in a concise and simple fashion.

One thing is certain, Jesus was meek. Look at Matt 11:29, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am MEEK and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (KJV) He did not tell us to do something or be something that He did not practice or that He did not reveal to us by His own example.

Meekness is not weakness. Jesus was the strongest man who ever lived, for He lived above sin - that is something no other man has ever been able to do. Yet, He was meek - so, whatever being meek implies, it does not signify weakness. Since Jesus was meek, it is essential for us to discover what it means and make sure it is a prevailing attitude and action in our lives.

In order to understand Matthew 5:5 we must first recognize that when Jesus spoke these words He was quoting from the Old Testament. There is only one other place in the Bible that contains the words "meek" and "inherit" in the same verse. It is found in Psalm 37. You can be sure of this fact, the people listening to Jesus were very familiar with Psalm 37 and no doubt comprehended that He was referring to it when He shared the words we discover in Matthew 5:5. To key to unlocking the meaning of Matthew 5:5 is found in Psalm 37.

Turn to Psalm 37 and look with me at verse 11. Note that it reads, "But the meek shall inherit the earth." The only difference in those words and the words Jesus spoke is that Jesus pronounced happiness on those who are meek. "Blessed are the meek," Jesus said, and you will remember that the word "blessed" means "happy." So if having an attitude of meekness is going to convey joy, happiness and gladness in life and will also allow us to inherit the earth, surely we desire to know what it means to be meek. To discover the meaning of meekness, we must look at four key words in Psalm 37. Let's begin with the first word of significance.

I. Trust - The Confident Believer

The word "trust" found in Psalm 37:3 denotes the idea of being so bold that one carelessly casts confidence upon another. We are told to trust in the Lord! That means to run to Him shamelessly and daringly because of our total trust and confidence in His promises and power. Meekness is the resignation of our own strength and confidence in His strength.

A lot of people are what I call Sinatraistic. What does that mean? You remember Frank Sinatra I am sure. He sang a very popular song with the words, "I did it my way." Most people want to do it their own way. When you have that attitude, you are saying, "I will do what I want to do." Okay, you can do that, but you are going to get strength only equal to your nature and you are not going to have God's wisdom and leadership in the process. How pathetic is the man or woman who leans upon human strength, wisdom and ability. How weak we are when we lean upon our own understanding and are influenced by our own intelligence. But, when we trust in the Lord, we get the power, direction, and strength that God possesses and we gain the insight He knows we need for each situation.

The word "meek" is similar to a word that is used to describe a stallion that has been tamed. Certainly a stallion is a representation strength, yet a stallion that is unbroken is of little use to anyone. To make a stallion meek means to bridle the great animal and cause the creature to channel his energy toward a useful purpose. The stallion is not made weak by being bridled and saddled, indeed the force and strength of the great horse is increased by the fact that an expedient and constructive purpose may be gained through the potency the stallion possesses.

You can do one of three things with a wild stallion.

(1) You can let him run wild.

(2) Secondly, you can corral him and lock him up.

(3) Thirdly, you can break his independence, bridle him and put the force of his energy to work for good.

That is the epitome of the illustration of meekness. God's desire is not to let us run wild, wasting our purpose in life and doing little or no good for others. Nor is it God’s desire to put us in a corral, where we may appear to be good but are only doing so because we can't run free. No, God’s desire is to channel every gift He has given us and to put our divinely given energy to good purpose and use. God knows that those who know Him find their greatest joy when the very plan for which they were created and the great goal for which they were redeemed are being realized in daily living and service. With His strength, leadership and wisdom at work in our lives, we become overcomers – overcoming the flaws that mark each of our lives.

To be meek, means to be under God's authority and control. This does not make us passive, on the contrary it makes us more forceful, determined and aggressive in doing God’s will and following God’s way. It focuses our drive to one purpose.

Achieving meekness begins with trusting God, even in a wicked world where it seems you are the underdog. That is what Psalm 37 teaches us. We are told to fret not when the wicked achieve some measure of success in this world that we are not experiencing. We are to simply trust in the Lord and do good! He will bring forth His purpose in due season, and in eternity will reveal all that it meant in the divine scheme of things.

Some years ago I read an account that went something like this:

A group of scientists and botanists were exploring remote regions of the Alps in search of new species of flowers. One day they noticed through binoculars a flower of such rarity and beauty that its value to science was incalculable. But it lay deep in a ravine with cliffs on both sides. To get the flower someone had to be lowered over the cliff on a rope. A curious young boy was watching nearby, and the scientists told him they would pay him well if he would agree to be lowered over the cliff to retrieve the flower below.

The boy took one long look down the steep, dizzy depths and said, "I'll be back in a minute." A short time later he returned, followed by a gray-haired man. Approaching the botanist, the boy said, "I'll go over that cliff and get that flower for you if this man holds the rope. He's my dad." (Our Daily Bread, April 8, 1996)

Meekness means to believe that God is holding the rope of our lives even when we feel we are in perilous circumstances. Meekness means to yield our lives, our emotions, and our passions to God! It means to cast ourselves over the edge in His will, knowning that He will never allow us to fall into the depths of defeat.

Paul yielded his life to God and you can be sure that it did not diminish or subdue his ambitions. Look at his statement at the end of his life. He said that he had fought a good fight. He was still a fighter after he got saved, but he was a fighter for Jesus instead of for himself. He had submitted his life to God, and his passions had been put under control but they had not been put out of business!

Now we must move to the next word. We begin by trusting but there is more to meekness than mere trust.

II. Delight - The Cuddled Believer

This is going to sound a little strange to you, but God is telling us that He wants to "cuddle" us in His arms. I can put my money in the bank and trust them to take care of it. However, I don't have to love the banker. But, in order to experience all that God has for me, I must delight in Him. "Delight," as it is used in Psalm 37:4, means "to be soft or cuddly." It means "to be delicate." The word is compared to the softness of a woman.

Meekness means to have a tender love toward the Lord and to desire a close, warm relationship with Him. Living the Christian life is about having affection for the Lord rather than affection for the world. John said that we are not love the world neither the things that are in the world. Jesus said in Luke 16:13 that we cannot love God and the world. John was known as the disciple that loved Jesus and is identified as the disciple who leaned against Jesus at the Last Supper. John delighted in the Lord and so should you and I.

If we are not vigilant we will begin to love our denomination and our doctrines more than we love God, and that kiind of love leads to arrogance and self-centeredness. Klyne Snodgrass, in his book, "Between Two Truths - Living With Biblical Tensions," states, "Once the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny. 'What did he find?' asked the cohort. 'A piece of the truth,' the Devil replied. 'Doesn't it bother you that he found a piece of the truth?' asked the cohort. 'No,' said the Devil, 'I will see to it that he makes a religion out of it.'" (Between Two Truths - Living with Biblical Tensions, Klyne Snodgrass, 1990, Zondervan Publishing House, p. 35 -as read at web site: http://net.bible.org/illustration.php?topic=1604)

When I am under God's control (trusting Him) and love Him with a heart that is warm and passionate, I am two-thirds of the way to understanding meekness. Let's go to the third word in Psalm 37.

III. Commit - The Casting Believer

The word "commit" means to "roll over." It means to roll something off oneself and onto to someone or something else. I trust the Lord, I love the Lord and therefore, I roll my burden over onto Him. Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 5:7, "Casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you." The word "casting" comes from two Greek words. One word is "fling" and the other word is "over." We are to fling it or roll it over on the Lord! That is exactly what we see in Psalm 37:5.

A good illustration of the meaning of "commit" is found in the world of computers. Here is how a call went between a man who bought a computer and the service department he called with a complaint.

Customer: "I got this problem. You people sent me this install disk, and now my A: drive won't work."

Tech Support: "Your A: drive won't work?"

Customer: "That's what I said. You sent me a bad disk, it got stuck in my drive, now it won't work at all."

Tech Support: "Did it not install properly? What kind of error messages did you get?"

Customer: "I didn't get any error message. The disk got stuck in the drive and wouldn't come out. So I got these pliers and tried to get it out. That didn't work either."

Tech Support: "You did what, sir?"

Customer: "I got these pliers, and tried to get the disk out, but it wouldn't budge. I just ended up cracking the plastic stuff a bit."

Tech Support: "I don't understand sir, did you push the eject button?"

Customer: "No, so then I got a stick of butter and melted it and used a turkey baster and put the butter in the drive, around the disk, and that got it loose. I can't believe you would send me a disk that was broken and defective."

Tech Support: "Let me get this clear. You put melted butter in your A: drive and used pliers to pull the disk out?"

At this point, I put the call on the speaker phone and motioned at the other techs to listen in. Tech Support: "Just so I am absolutely clear on this, can you repeat what you just said?"

Customer: "I said I put butter in my A: drive to get your disk out, then I had to use pliers to pull it out."

Tech Support: "Did you push that little button that was sticking out when the disk was in the drive, you know, the thing called the disk eject button?"

- Silence -

Tech Support: "Sir?"

Customer: "Yes."

Tech Support: "Sir, did you push the eject button?"

Customer: "No, but you people are going to fix my computer, or I am going to sue you for breaking my computer."

Tech Support: "Let me get this straight. You are going to sue our company because you put the disk in the A: drive, didn't follow the instructions we sent you, didn't actually seek professional advice, didn't consult your user's manual on how to use your computer properly, instead you proceeded to pour butter into the drive and physically rip the disk out?"

Customer: "Ummmm."

Tech Support: "Do you really think you stand a chance, since we do record every call and have it on tape?"

Customer: (now rather humbled) "But you're supposed to help!"

Tech Support: "I am sorry sir, but there is nothing we can do for you. Have a nice day."

Sounds like the mess we sometimes make of our lives. We don't consult God's "instruction manual" (the Bible), we don't call for assistance (pray), we just try to "fix" the problems in our lives by ourselves and in the process do some pretty ill-advised, nonsensical, and reckless things.

But there's one big difference between a computer problem and a life problem. When we finally reach the point that we realize we've made a mess and we humble ourselves in the presence of God, He doesn't say, "There's nothing I can do for you.” He doesn’t hang up on us, but rather He stands ready to help.

"....Be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (I Peter 5:5b-7).

Made a mess of something lately? The "tech support" line is open and ready to take your call. (Thanks to Alan Smith alansmith@boone.net www.TFTD-online.com Accessed at: http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon2/can_this_mess_be_fixed.htm)

Now put these ideas together with the larger text of Psalm 37. We live in a hostile world. We also live in a world that seems unfair. We are Christians and we are seeking to live for the Lord, but, in the midst of this life for Him we see many unanswerable questions looming before us:

(1) Why do the wicked succeed and the righteous perish?

(2) Why do I have so many problems?

(3) Why do I suffer - after all, I am a believer?

Questions like these, and many others, can lead a Christian to be doubtful, hard-hearted and difficult to live with. We are to trust the Lord, love Him and cast the burdens we are confronting on Him. That will make us gentle and kind. We will not be angry, hateful, bitter, and vengeful. That is what it means to be meek.

Now let's look at one more word found in Psalm 37.

IV. Rest (Wait) - The Comforted Believer

Waiting or resting is the act of letting God work out the timing of events in our lives. Now don't get the idea that waiting is laziness. Oh no! We read in the beginning of Psalm 37 that we are to "trust God and do good." We are to keep doing His will while we are waiting for Him to work out the details.

Resting means to believe that God has a plan for you and no matter what you are going through, you know that He is working all things together for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Resting means to do your best when others are doing their worst. Resting means to accept the hardships of life without becoming hardened by them! Resting means serving even when suffering!

An unknown poet wrote,

"Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,

Trust Him when thy strength is small,

Trust Him when to simply trust Him

Seems the hardest thing of all.

Trust Him, He is ever faithful,

Trust Him, for his will is best,

Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus

Is the only place of rest."