To Meekly Crave Righteousness — Rick Lawson

Every great sermon declares eternal truths and is instructive in its tone.  This is certainly true of the great sermon preached by Jesus that we call the Sermon on the Mount. Consider Matthew 5:5-6: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” In just twenty five words (in the English), Jesus conveys so much spiritual meat upon which his followers may feast! Both requirements and blessings are set forth by our Lord.

“Blessed Are The Meek”

What does Jesus mean by the idea of “blessed?” Often the word “happy” is used to describe the meaning of blessed. The context in which the original Greek word markarios is used connotes not the momentary giddiness resulting from a fleeting pleasant experience, but the deep, abiding joy that comes from the knowledge that God’s pleasure is the result of our obedience to His Word. No matter the immediate circumstance, God’s people can rejoice that the Father smiles down upon His faithful children.

The subject of this beatitude is meekness. Often meekness is equated with weakness or resignation, but this is due to modern usage of the term. The student of the Bible must examine the way that the word is used in the Scriptures. Thayer says that to be meek is to be gentle and mild. In the Outline of Biblical Usage meekness is described this way:

“Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting…Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest.  It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation.  The gentle person is not occupied with self at all.”

Meekness must not be seen as weakness. Meekness is strength under control. Moses is called the meekest man in the world (Num. 12:3), yet he had enormous authority as the leader of God’s people in the Old Testament. Jesus described Himself as meek, though He created and upholds the universe with the Word of His power (Matt. 11:29; Heb. 1:2-3).  God has always promised to bless the meek. “The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live forever” (Ps. 22:26). “The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground” (Ps. 147:6). See also Psalm 25:9; 67:9; 149:4 and Isaiah 29:19.  Pride, selfishness and conceit are characteristics of the lost, and will be responsible for untold numbers being condemned to hell for all eternity. Entire nations have perished because of the sin of pride, and nations will surely continue to fall due to it. Meekness, gentleness, and self-control are the spiritual qualities required by God. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1Tim. 6:11).

The message of this beatitude is similar to Psalm 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”  The blessing promised by Jesus to the meek is that they will inherit the earth. It is clear that the earth belongs to God (Ex. 19:5), and no man can conquer God or take by force that which belongs to God. The earth is God’s to give or to withhold. This is why Jesus uses the term “inherit.” The good things that this world has to offer are bestowed upon the faithful by God Himself, as an earthly father bequeaths his possessions to his heirs. A similar promise is made by Jesus in Matthew 19:29:  “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” The faithful may never receive the wealth, popularity, or approval sought by worldly men, but God’s blessings are the only ones that matter. Jesus says the way to receive these things is through meekness.

“Blessed Are Those Who Hunger And Thirst After Righteousness”

Psychologists classify hunger and thirst as two of the strongest drives that motivate human beings. A man can only live without water for a few days. The human brain is 95% water, and a 2% drop in a person’s hydration level can cause symptoms of dehydration. When starved, food becomes the primary concern of men. I was on a mission trip to Thailand some years ago and visited a poor village. While there, I saw a number of people walking around during the day. Curious, I asked my translator, “What do these people do for work?” The translator was confused by my question. He replied, “Sir, their job is finding something for them and their families to eat today.” Hunger is a strong drive!

The psalmist wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1-2)  Jesus taught that the hunger and thirst for righteousness should motivate mankind.  Righteousness is defined by Strong as “the character or quality of being right or just.”  The follower of Jesus should long for that which is right.  He should seek for that which is true.

Everyone is motivated by something.  Many are driven by the desire to obtain material things, but these pass away.  Many are motivated by carnal desires and pleasures of this life, but these lead to shame and dissatisfaction.  The approval of men is the motivation behind many of the choices made by the ungodly, and they often receive it.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were men like this.  He warned His disciples, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.  Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matt. 6:1-2).

Nothing is better than a cold drink of water to the thirsty man, and God provides what man needs.  He has said that those who seek the righteousness of God shall find it.  “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7).

Hydration and nutrition sustain physical life. The Word of God provides for the spiritual needs of men. Consider some parallels between material food and water and spiritual sustenance. Just as man must eat and drink on a regular, ongoing basis, so must man partake of the Bible. Like the noble Bereans, man must search the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). As physical food must be digested and assimilated to be beneficial, so must the Bible be understood and applied to life. This is what David meant when he wrote, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11). When a man hides the Word in his heart he puts the Devil on the run!

The intake of water and food must be of sufficient quantity for man to thrive. Similarly, man’s intake of spiritual food must be adequate. Studying a few verses, ripped from their proper context, to the exclusion of the rest of the Bible is dangerous and deadly. One might as soon try to exist on a single food to the exclusion of all others. The American Standard version renders Psalm 119:160: The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth forever.” Don’t settle for some when you need the sum! The entire Bible should be studied and rightly divided by the servant of God (2 Tim. 2:15). This is how the child of God makes his “calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).

The World Health Organization reports that 1.8 billion people around the world are forced to use water contaminated by human waste. I wonder how many are basing their religion on doctrines contaminated by human opinions, thoughts and ideas. Surely the number is much higher than 1.8 billion! Man’s spiritual needs are only met by the unadulterated, pure message from God. If contaminated, spiritual sickness and death is the result. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). What would you think of a farmer who carefully smashed each kernel of corn seed to dust with a hammer before planting it? That is a farmer who will never grow a crop! Man must not tamper with God’s Seed if he expects it to bear fruit in the hearts of men (Lk. 8:11).

Just as the meek shall inherit the earth, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. What a blessing to realize that God does not offer adequacy, but abundance (John 10:10)! Dear reader, you too can be filled to the brim with the blessings that God offers. With meekness and humility search out the righteousness of God with fervor and urgency, and submit to His will for your life. Heaven is yours to gain!

Rick is a 1999 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching, an instructor for the Georgia School of Preaching (Marietta and Adairsville campuses), and has served as the evangelist of the Adairsville, GA church of Christ since 2013.

 

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