HAPPINESS THROUGH MEEKNESS
As we continue the study of the Beatitudes of Jesus, the third one is found in Matthew 5:5 and says, “Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” These beatitudes contain the secret of happiness. Their purpose is to instruct us how to obtain happiness during our lifetime on earth. In this beatitude we are informed that one of the Christian virtues is meekness, and Jesus reveals that it is an absolute essential to a happy life below. The wisdom of the world disagrees with this beatitude and considers meekness a deterrent to happiness instead of a help. This study involves two matters–what does meekness have to do with happiness and what does it mean that the meek will inherit the earth?.
The first thought in this discussion is that meekness does not mean weakness. In the English language meekness is one of those words that is surrounded with obscurity. Most people associate this word with weakness. Jesus was meek and lowly in heart, but He was not weak. It is often thought to mean soft, sissified, cowardly and fearful. It is common to hear someone say, “He is as meek as a mouse.” This saying is not complementary, for it makes us think of shy, backward, frightened souls who go through life trying to get out of our way, but usually get under our feet. Mice are not attractive, and we would never use them to illustrate some good quality of character. Another saying is, “He is as meek as a lamb.” Lambs are lovable but we are prone to pity them because of their foolishness and helplessness. The Bible compares people to sheep because of their carelessness and helplessness. The Bible says of us all, “You were as sheep going astray.” Meekness is often associated with an inferiority complex, with people who won't take up for their rights and let people mistreat them. When Jesus said that it would be the meek who shall be happy in this world, He uttered a shocking statement to that generation and just as shocking to our generation. This thought is contrary to the general idea people have about happiness. Let's pursue the subject further.
Webster's dictionary gives two definitions of the word. One is, “patient and mild; not inclined to anger or resentment.” The second is, “too submissive, easily imposed on, spineless; spiritless.” The second definition is the common conception people have of meekness. The first definition is close to the meaning of the word Jesus used and means to be patient, mild-mannered, not inclined to anger or resentment. We are talking about Christian meekness, not man-made meekness. This meekness is a result of the new birth that Christians have experienced, and the new way of life that they have undertaken as disciples of Jesus. It is listed in the New Testament as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and as one of the Christian virtues.
As used in the New Testament, this word refers to people who recognize their shortcomings, who are free from pride and are filled with humility. It is a special attitude of mind toward other people, especially when others are in a state of unkindness, hostility or mistreatment towards us. It is the virtue that has the ability to regulate anger and control the temper. Thus a meek person is not given to retaliate injuries or hold grudges, , but is rather inclined to forbear, overlook and forgive. The meek peerson takes insult and mistreatment calmly. He is willing to take wrong patiently and then use gentleness in dealing with others. Christian meekness is of great price in the sight of God. The Bible says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city”(Prov. 16:32).
A meek person is a God-tamed person. God-taming does for man's nature something like that which domestication does for the branch of the wolf family. The dog we are told is related to the wolf, but through domestication and discipline by man his master, his wolfish nature has been tamed and his temper has been changed to trust. The result is that the dog has become the companion of man and is one of his best friends. In addition, walking around with his his master with restriction and control, the dog enjoys really more freedom and enjoyment than the fear-haunted wolf. Several years ago I had a dog whose name was Ed, and he really was happy and inherited the earth. My family fed him cake, ice cream. and beef. He was petted and loved and cared for by all the members of the family, but when he first came to my house he was a chicken thief. He was stealing so many chickens the people who owned him had to get rid of him. They let him out in my neighborhood, and he came to my house and never left. He responded well to training. He followed me to church about every Sunday morning and even learned how to shake hands with people at church. .Meekness is the result of God- domestication.
As a wild horse is caught, broken, made gentle and mild-mannered, then haltered and bridled and led about with a rope, so man's wild nature may be tamed by God. As an animal is trained and controlled by its master so the meek are controlled and trained by God. The result of this divine discipline is to make the disposition gentle, submissive, calm and quiet. A meek person is not easily provoked or irritated and is patent under injuries. His strength is disciplined into such gentleness that he tosses off insults and slights without concern. That is the real meaning of meekness. The meek are God-molded, God-tamed, God-trained and God-tempered. It is a gentleness, but a God-like gentleness. A meek man is one who can control his anger, and the Bible says that man is mightier than one who by force takes a city.
The third beatitude pronounces a two-fold blessing on the meek. Jesus said the meek will find happiness in life and they will also inherit the earth. First, He said they will be the happiest people on earth, but He did not explain the connection between meekness and happiness. How does meekness have to do with happiness?. Most people can see no connection whatever between meekness and happiness. To see the connection we must take a look at the world we live in. There are not many people in the world who manifest the kind of meekness Jesus talked about. There is but little meekness, gentleness, patience and forbearance in the world. As the centuries have come and gone violence has become increasingly worse. The 21st century started out with a startling display of violence. The rights of other people are being violated by many forms of violence and injustice. Society is torn apart by rudeness and savagery. Strange to say society is attracted to violence,
We buy toys for our children that suggest the violent time in which they live. Toy guns, swords, rockets, and tanks are given the children. Children are used to seeing violence. Movies have given us films of unimaginable violence, and the people love to watch these movies. The films make millions on war, crime, drugs, murder, illegal sex and broken marriages. Violent behavior is even depicted in the cartoons the kids watch.. We are told children who watch Televion the most are more prone to be violent. They like to be bullies and mistreat other children. Children. It should not surprise us that there is is so much fighting in our public schools.. We are producing a violent-minded society.
If we turn to domestic life, neighbors are quarreling and fighting with their next door neighbors. Husbands and wives cannot control their tempers and end up in a divorce court. Unfaithful wives and husbands are being killed by their mates. What an impatient and anger-minded world this is! A slight mistake is made by a driver on the freeway, and road rage causes a fight and sometimes a shooting. What is the matter with people?. They cannot control their anger, their temper, and their bad disposition. Many a wife has discovered that complaining and fretting will never win over a husband, but often ends in divorce. Many a husband has found that abuse and mistreatment and fault-finding have destroyed his marriage. One of the greatest causes of divorce is an angry, nasty disposition. I read of one woman who professed to be a Christian, and although she was good in many respects she was very impatient. Her preacher one day spoke to her husband about becoming a Christian and the man replied, ”My wife is a good homemaker, but if religion would make me as impatient as she is I
want no part of it.” The same could be said of many a husband. Impatience and an unforgiving attitude has broken up thousands of homes. A little meekness in the lives of husbands and wives would have saved thousands of broken homes. This is an impatient world.
Finally, just what is the connection between happiness and meekness?. How is it that meek people can be so happy in this turbulent, impatient and anger-minded world? Jesus explained it by saying, “Happy are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” The best commentary we have on this statement is Psalm 37:9-11, “Evildoers shall be cut off but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more, but the meek shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” In those two verses the third beatitude is stated twice . This is where Jesus got this beatitude. It is not a new truth but an old truth that the world has forgotten. It has always been true that the meek shall inherit the earth from the time that God created the earth and gave it man.. Meekness has been a world-conquering principle or virtue throughout human history.
What does it mean to inherit the earth? To inherit something is to receive it as a gift. It is a gift from someone to you. The earth is a gift from God to the human race for their happiness and enjoyment. God intended that the earth be a place of enjoyment, peace and happiness, but man has turned it into a place of turbulence, anger, violence , injustice etc. The meek disciples of Jesus will really inherit this earth, will receive it as wonderful gift from God and find happiness and enjoyment while they live on the earth.. The human race possesses the earth, but does not use it as God intended. Rather, they have filled it with violence not happiness. The pilgrims who founded our nation were once the meek people of England. They were driven from their native land by violence, persecution and injustice, but they did not retaliate, fight violence with violence and rebel against their nation. Driven away from their native land, they inherited the continent of America. Now the pilgrims were not on Christ's mind when He uttered this beatitude, but it is an example of earthly blessings and happiness that comes to meek people
The meaning of this beatitude and the happiness of which it speaks is clearly revealed in Psalm 37:11. Listen to it carefully again, “But the meek shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” They will delight themselves; that is, they will be delightfully happy in the abundance of peace they enjoy. Peaceableness is the happiness
promised in the third beatitude. The meek shall be at peace with themselves, at peace with their fellow human beings, and at peace with God. That is the peace of God that passes all understanding. My friends that is earthly happiness, and the beatitudes were speaking of earthly happiness. The Bible says that godliness is profitable unto all thing, having promise of the llife that now is and of that which is to come. The meek will be happy here as well as in the world to come. Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.
What a paradox!. The meek will possess not only Christ's kingdom on earth, but the entire earth itself. Not only will they find the foremost place in the Lord's church, but they will find a foremost place on the earth itself. They will enjoy temporal blessings more than others. This happiness will come to them because they are mild-mannered and longsuffering. They do not complain or vex themselves, or become angry and vindictive when angry people threaten them or mistreat them. They will not resort to violence but walk away from a fight. Being gentle-minded, they bear it patiently without undue disturbance of mind. The meek maintain a peaceable disposition in a violent world. The Lord's church is a peaceable people, and more meekness is found in the church than anywhere else in the world. Quarreling is forbidden in the church.
Meekness, forbearance and patience are absolutely necessary if you are to live peacefully in society and if you want to build a happy family life. In Titus 3:2 Paul said, “Speak evil of no one, be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” You cannot be happy by concentrating on the faults of others and minimizing their virtues. In Colossians 3:12,13 Paul wrote, “As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” This is what it takes to live happily in this impatient, anger-filled, envious and quarrel-minded world.