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Blessed are the Meek

David Shin

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Have you ever been tempted to lash out when someone disrespects you? Have you been tempted to be harsh because someone deserves it? Join us as Pastor David shares a study on Biblical meekness.

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David Shin

Dr. David Shin is the President of Ouachita Hills College.

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  • August 27, 2016
    11:30 AM
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We're continuing our series today from the Sermon on the Mount, the greatest sermon ever preached. In the Beatitudes, the first part of the Sermon on the Mount begins with a repetition of Blesseds. We began with Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are they that mourn. Today is - Blessed are the meek. And Bible scholars have analyzed the Beatitudes for the past 2000 years and have come to the conclusion that it's actually a progression, a ladder in the Christian experience. It gives characteristics of what it's like to begin the Christian experience and grow in grace.

 

And when you look at the Beatitudes, you'll notice that the first beatitude – Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and the last beatitude - Blessed are the persecuted for their is the kingdom of heaven, the promise is the same for the first rung on the ladder as well as the last rung on the ladder. And the beauty of the Gospel is, it doesn't matter if you've just accepted CHRIST today or you've been a Christian for years - the promise of salvation is the same. Amen. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

And the other Beatitudes, they have a present implication. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted indicating that we have present comfort but the future ultimate fulfillment of that comfort is in the future. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. But the first and last promise - Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven is a present reality, meaning that we can all have the assurance of salvation today, that promise is a reality today.

 

When we looked at the first few Beatitudes – Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those that recognize that we are morally and spiritually bankrupt, we’re in need of grace, we’re in need of GOD. And it is a blessing to recognize our spiritual poverty.

 

Blessed are they that mourn indicating blessed are those that are truly sorrowful for sin. This is a gift as we said last week. We come to GOD and say, “LORD, help me willing to be made willing.” Amen. “Help me to be sorry because I am not sorry at all. Give me the gift of repentance.”

 

So today, we are focusing on blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. I like this commentary from the evangelical preacher and theologian John Stott and he said, “Meekness is essentially a true view of one's self, expressing itself in attitude and conduct with respect to others.”  It really follows the first 2 when we see ourselves for who we really are, it translates into how we relate to each other interpersonally. Now, when we talk about meekness, that's not a word that we use commonly today. And I like the New American Standard Version, it actually says, “Blessed are the gentle.” So, another word for meekness is gentleness and this is a characteristic of JESUS found in Matthew 11:29. JESUS says, “I am meek (or gentle) and lowly in heart.” This is a characteristic that GOD wants us to have and as we accept CHRIST, there’s an immediate change and transformation in how we relate to each other. Gentleness is manifested not only who we are but the way that we treat each other. Amen.

 

It's amazing today, with the online culture, the internet, it is a blessing and a convenience; but it's also opening up a side of human nature that is very ugly when you look at it. There's a program in which a part of the segment, you can actually catch it on You Tube, and I saw a few clips. They have celebrities get on there. And they read these social media liners, usually 140 characters or less, of what people are saying about these celebrities. So these celebrities are actually reading these and as they get on camera and reading these terrible things that are being said about them from people that never have met them before and it is just appalling as they are reading these insults that are being said in the social media. Things that you would never say to the person face to face. Some how the anonymity has allowed people to be very bold and lose any kind of civility in the conversation that is taking place. And many times this has devastating consequences as well.

 

There is a phenomenon that is taking place called cyber bullying. My heart broke when I read about Megan Meier. Megan was a young lady, a teenager, and as many teenagers, she was struggling with self-worth and self-esteem. She had struggled with her weight and she was on social media. Someone friended her. On this particular social media website, so she accepted the friend request. And they started dialogue back and forth. Later on, this “friend” whose name was Josh commented on her wall and said, “Look, I don't want to be your friend anymore. You don't deserve to live.” This affected Megan Meier so much that she went off into her room. Later on, her mom found her in the closet; she had hung herself. This cyber bullying is taking on more and more of a phenomenon as people are being cruel, saying things that they would never otherwise say in the online culture. There's something called body shaming that is taking place as well where people are making comments about people's physical characteristics. And it is a troubling notion because any sort of common decency is being left out in the conversations and the vitriol that is taking place online. Even in our culture of face to face dialogue, there is an appreciation of being forthright and straightforward. And I believe to a certain degree we should be; but it is getting to a place, you know there is a balance to all these things in the pendulum where people are being bold and painfully forthright without any compassion. Do you know what I'm talking about? And we almost applaud these types of straight dialogue that is taking place now. Please don't misunderstand me I believe that there is a time and place that we need to be straightforward and honest; but this never means that we should be cruel.

 

I read a quotation one that essentially --- honesty without compassion is cruelty. Honesty should never come at the cost of kindness. And our culture today, when we talk about meekness and gentleness, it views it as weakness and having a connotation of being effeminate and lacking backbone; but real biblical meekness is not weakness, it is really strength under control. Now, isn't it interesting that when we come to JESUS just the way that we are, with all our baggage, with all our foibles, with all our faults, with all of our challenges, and we come to HIM, HE accepts us just the way we are? That’s the way the Gospel works, friends. We come to HIM as HE says, “Look, just come.” Then HE works within us, gives us an emotional distaste for sin. But notice that the third progression in the Christian experience is that there is an immediate change in the way that we relate to one another, the way that we relate to one another. We are gentle in how we treat each other that is the immediate manifestation of the Gospel working in the life. We are no longer severe and stern and harsh and cruel. There is a transformation that works in the life. JESUS says, “Come, I will create in you a need to come to me. I'm gonna develop in you an emotional distaste for sin and then there's going to be a visible manifestation of how you treat each other, and it is going to be gentle not cruel, meek not harsh.” There's going to be a delicate side to us as Christians.

 

I want to read to you some synonyms of being gentle or meekness. I have this thick thesaurus in my library and here are some synonyms – kind, tender, sympathetic, considerate, understanding, compassionate, benevolent. Let me read to you some antonyms of gentleness – cruel, harsh, hard, hateful, rough, gruff, unkind, sharp, caustic. One dictionary says that gentleness or meekness is the absence of harshness and sternness. Sometimes, we have to define things by what is not there, and so this is the absence of harshness and sternness.

 

Now, please don't misunderstand me, gentleness does not mean the absence of emotion or passion or zeal; but it does mean the absence of meanness and sternness and harshness. We can have passion for something without being cruel and harsh in the way that we come across. We know that meekness and gentleness is not easy and there are certain moments that this characteristic is very challenging to portray in the life especially as we rub each other and we come across different circumstances.

 

One person defined meekness as gentleness under provocation. How many of you have ever been provoked before? This week? I sold books door to door. I tell hundreds of these types of stories. It was my job in Academy and the summers, I went to different parts of the country and sold books there. I remember, I was in New Jersey and I knocked on the door and through the glass door, I could see the man coming. And he had fire in his eyes, just the body language. And so, I backed up just enough and he came down in a rage. He was coming quick, and I could see that this man did not intend to do me good. So, he came over and as he came, he kicked the screen door and it just barely missed by my nose by millimeters. It swung open and I came back and I was trying to get a hold of myself. He didn't even know who I was, I mean, I could be there to give him a million dollars all he know, you know; but it came back and it swung and then this rough stern big burly man, shirtless, screamed at me at the top of his lungs and said, “Hit the road.” I remember that distinctly. And he had been eating his dinner, so he had this mouthful of something and it just buaaarrr. And this mess just descended on me. At that moment and I want to tell you that I was not thinking meekness, that was the furthest thing from my consciousness at that time. I mean, here's a man that is so out of line and yet the Bible says, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” Now, when we think of these circumstances, well, praise GOD. By the grace of GOD, I said nothing and I just walked away. I wish I could tell you that was the reality every time I was provoked; but in that time, I prayed, I said, “LORD, please help me.”

 

Now, this is a concept that we deal with when we talk about meekness and what is the natural fear when it comes to gentleness. We think that we're going to be taken advantage of. We think that “Look, if I just am responding in a gentle way, people are just going to do things to me.” Well, the promise of this Beatitude is a reassurance. We are afraid that we're going to miss out if we react in this way, but JESUS says blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. In other words, you gonna get it all. You have JESUS; you have it all, therefore, we could be at peace in the way that we respond to others.

 

One more story from canvassing. Same state, New Jersey, I'm dropped off in a rural part of town and I notice that these 2 teenagers are stalking me on their bicycles. I go to a door they pass by, go to another door, they pass by on their bicycles. Finally, I was closer to the road and one of them as he was driving by in his bicycle, he said, “You come to our house and we're going to punch you in the mouth.” I wish he told me which address that was. It would have been helpful. And so, I say, “oh” and I'm just waiting and bracing myself wondering if I'm going to knock on this home and get a mouthful of something, a knuckle sandwich. And so I'm going bracing myself and it was not a few minutes later that these 2 teenagers came back again with eggs. And they are pelting me with eggs and so literally, I am running from door to door dodging eggs as these young teenagers are hurling them at me and I'm going on and I have this radioing my leader, “Please, come, help me, help me, you know these kids are pelting eggs at me.” And, I remember that evening as I was going home in the car, my pants soiled with egg yolk and my shoes crusted with egg shells and I'm thinking to myself, “LORD, why?” These are moments that it is difficult to be gentle especially when people are crossing the line and treating you in a way that is not even humane. What do we do in these circumstances? Gentleness when we are being provoked.

 

I had studied a book in high school called the Desire of Ages and these quotes were so challenging to me when I first read them. In my meditation of the life of CHRIST, this book changed my life, highly recommend this book. This is from the book Days of Conflict. And listen to this: “JESUS did not contend for HIS rights.” And I was like “LORD, what does that mean?” It's really challenging for me to process and it goes on--- “often HIS work was made unnecessarily severe because HE was willing and uncomplaining.”

 

JESUS did not contend for HIS rights and this is going to take a lot more reflection and meditation as to what that all means. And look at this, Desire of Ages goes on --- HE did not retaliate when roughly used but bore insult patiently. Now, please don't misunderstand me, if you are being sexually or physically abused, call the authorities, get help, get safety. I believe the direct application in the context of what this is talking about is the daily literal rebuffs and irritations and the things that get under our skin just living life that goes on. When you're in the life of CHRIST, when it came to these bothersome and annoying circumstances, JESUS let them go; but when it came to other people's issues and especially the kingdom of GOD, He stood firm. Naturally, I do the reverse. When someone just crosses a little bit of a line with me and end it just there to intonation isn't right, I have the tendency, you know you can't do that to me; but then when it's somebody else, I don't want to get involved. You’ll get over it. Oh, you've got to understand the other person's perspective, right? We do the reverse.

 

JESUS was so other-minded and so GOD-minded that when it came to HIS own personal perspective and perhaps irritations, HE took the higher path. HE let them go. I mean what a beautiful picture of the character of GOD. Challenging statement – JESUS did not contend for HIS rights.

 

There's other places where gentleness is difficult to practice. There’s a book I had to read in high school it's called Adventist home. I wanna encourage you to read that, especially if you have children. And Ellen White has precious counsel especially to parents, those that are married. Listen to this, Adventist Home, 358. “CHRIST is grieved with every harsh, severe and inconsiderate word spoken to children. It breaks GOD's heart.” I know the temptation is, you know, these kids won't listen unless I put the smack down, right? These kids won't listen unless I am harsh and severe and it goes on. Look at Adventist Home again and I know this is a long paragraph but I was gonna redact it a little bit; but here it is, I want to put it to you in its full context. “Let none imagine that harshness and severity are necessary to secure obedience.” This is counsel to parents. “Let none imagine that harshness and severity are necessary to secure obedience. I have seen the most efficient family government maintained without a harsh word or look. I have been in other families where commands were constantly given in an authoritative tone and harsh rebukes and severe punishments were often administered. In the first case, the children followed the course pursued by the parents, and seldom spoke to one another in harsh tones. In the second also the parental example was imitated by the children and crossed fault finding and disputes were heard from morning till night.”

 

It's amazing that the people that we love the most, many times, gentleness is missing, we get relaxed, we get comfortable, isn’t that right. And with family, we can be so cutting. We've experienced this before, growing up in a household, you know, what it's like, a heated dialogue in the family. Things are being said; lot of passion, perhaps a lot of harshness, and it's in the middle of this thing, and then the phone rings, you’ve seen that. Rrrraaaaa. Hold on, I gotta get the phone. “Oh, hello,” right? Just dramatic transformation. “Oh, hello! Oh, how can I help you? You know you're not bothering me at all. What can I do? Oh, sure, no problem. Great, wonderful.” Click. Rrraaa. I mean, why is that? We strain every nerve for people, for the sake of perspective in the way we look; but when it comes to our own flesh and blood, people that we love the most and appreciate, we subtract kindness and gentleness. I mean, this is a high calling that GOD is giving to us. HIS heart is wounded with every harsh word spoken to children.

 

Another place that gentleness is sometimes challenging is in the church. Isn't it ironic that the place that gentleness should be the most abundant unfortunately, it is lacking. I've pastured just long enough to visit with enough people that have been hurt and stay away from church and I would say that 100% of the time, if not 99% of the time, it's not because of the teachings of the church. It is because of an unkindness and lack of civility and lack of gentleness. Do you know, there's going to be people in heaven that don't have their theology all put together right? I would say the majority of people in heaven are just not going to have all their T's crossed and I's dotted when it comes to their theology. I believe when I get to heaven, I'm going to say, “Oh, LORD, sorry I was wrong on that one.”

 

Theology can be learned; but no one is going to be in heaven that is not willing to be made like JESUS. Now notice, I said willing to be made like JESUS. We are all work in progress by the grace of GOD; but the willingness needs to be there. No one is going to be in heaven that is not willing to be made like JESUS and character and how we treat each other is as important as the truths we profess. We can be in theological dialogue and be civil and Christian in the way that we treat each other. My last church, I arrived at a church that was just going through a crisis, split right down the middle--- really challenging times. I spent a lot of times on my knees and previous pastor I found out later felt sorry for me that I had accepted this call. And there was this dear saint, bless his heart that was not exhibiting the Christian graces. He was hurting a lot of people; let me put it that way. Children would be in the hallways and it was a very harsh, stern way of dealing with them and people were telling that me that they were afraid to come to church anymore. At a pastoral visit with this man and I said, “Look, we are both Seventh Day Adventists, we have a lot in common theologically, but my brother, we need to be Christian. We need to be Christian. JESUS said, “They that worship ME worship ME in spirit and truth.” You need both. I mean the truth is important and JESUS said the spirit is important too - the way that we treat each other. And we cannot have one without the other.

 

I like this quotation from Warren Wiersbe, “Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy.” We need to have both in the culture of our community of faith. And I can tell you that there are times when we get heated in theological dialogue and I'm not saying that we shouldn't be passionate, but we should be gentle. We should be Christian and there is never any excuse for harshness and cruelty, just because someone does not believe exactly the way that I do. This fruit of the SPIRIT should be manifest in our community of faith.

 

My Life Today, Ellen White - “Those who differ with us in faith and doctrine should be treated kindly. They are the property of CHRIST. GOD as enjoined upon us the duty of loving one another as CHRIST has loved us.”

 

I wanna I read on Review and Herald, February 9th 1892 - “Men may speak fluently upon doctrines, and make express strong faith and theories, but do they possess Christlike meekness and love? If they reveal a harsh, critical spirit, they are denying CHRIST. If they are not kind, tenderhearted, long-suffering, they are not like JESUS; they are deceiving their own souls. A spirit contrary to the love, humility, meekness and gentleness of CHRIST denies HIM, whatever may be their profession.”

 

We need to have a spirit and truth as we deal with each other.  I wanna read a few other quotations. This is in relationship to reaching out to other people --- “The softening subduing influence of the love of GOD brought into practical lives will make an impression upon minds that will be a savor of life unto life but a harsh denunciatory spirit, if manifested, will turn many souls away from the truth into the ranks of the enemy.

 

Another quote – “Harshness drives souls into Satan's net.” Just think about that and I want to tell you that growing up in the church, I’m a 3rd generation Seventh Day Adventist, I've been through the system from kindergarten all the way up through college, post graduate and so forth, and I can tell you that that my picture of GOD was dramatically affected by the way that I was treated by those in church leadership and authority that's how it framed it. And there were times that I crossed the line and there was this spirit of just ‘we need to stand up for the truth’ and I was spat out. And what it did was exactly this. I said, “I don't want to have anything to do with this anymore.” It drove me in the other direction and what reached out to me was a time when I saw a picture of grace. Shortly thereafter, I gave my heart to the LORD JESUS, my life was dramatically changed.

 

As we go on, gentleness in the community of faith. Gentleness when people have made a mistake and this really comes from when we have become a recipient of grace, when we learn to accept GOD’s grace for us, it makes us gentle in how we deal with each other. When we come before GOD and we say, “LORD, I'm a sinner in need of grace and HE gives us that grace and we recognize that we receive something that we don't deserve, unmerited, un-favored and HE accepts as just the way we are, we can be gracious as we have received grace --- A grace-filled community of faith.

 

I have a fondness, especially after having moved to Alaska, for Amazon.com. My wife and I were doing a budget; cost of living is quite high here compared to Michigan, I found. And Amazon provides this service, it was on prime. I’m not advertising, this is an illustration. And they shipped us everything, vitamins, dog food coming to our door. Recently, I sold my bicycle and used a portion of the funds for a new camera lens. I’m an amateur enthusiast photographer, give me stress release, and so I received this lens in the mail. And on the outside of the box, it said, “Handle with care.” If you know anything about enthusiast photographers, we just love lenses. There’s a syndrome called gear acquisition syndrome. I'm a recovering person and you know what happens when photographer/enthusiast gets a new lens, you know, how you take it out? You take it out with caution. Bring it out. “Oh, my.” Open it up. I mean, it's a disease, look at the lens, hold that. We can have a lens-cleaning kit. You know, got this rocket blow or blow all that dust out of it. We put it back in this padded case because to us it is valuable; you handle with care things that are of value. On one time a friend of mine, let me hold his $3,000.00-camera. Mine is like $100.00 from e-bay. He handed me his $3,000.00-camera and I want to tell you that when he gave it to me, I handled with care. “Hah…” A few seconds, here, gave it back. When you don't care about something, you don't handle with care. You don't care what happens to it. Just get another one - disposable.

 

Do you know that all of you have an invisible sticker on you? Handle with care. When that person crosses you and you're tempted to lash out, remember that person is priceless to JESUS, handle with care. When that family member brings out all the carnality of your nature, you know this, they are priceless to JESUS and they're priceless to you, Amen, handle with care. We need to be delicate with each other with the recognition that the person that you are dealing with, whether on the street, or at work or the stranger that crosses your sphere, that person is a person that is priceless in the eyes of heaven, handle with care. Treat them with gentleness because of the value that they are in the eyes of GOD. We need to do this and we have this spectrum of gradation of human value that is not Biblical, friends. And we need to see people as heaven sees them --- that person is a person that is priceless to GOD. And we need to handle with care.

 

I praise GOD for the heavenly pattern. JESUS is the perfect model. My Life Today, CHRIST carried out in HIS life in HIS own divine teachings, and “look at the balance of JESUS, what a picture of GOD.” HE manifested consistency without obstinacy, benevolence without weakness, tenderness and sympathy without sentimentalism. JESUS is the perfect model. JESUS is the perfect pattern. And JESUS wants to infuse you and me with HIS character so that people out there can interact with you and see a glimpse of grace. That comes as we receive of GOD's grace and it spills over to others.

 

Let us pray.

 

FATHER in heaven, we thank YOU for grace. LORD, help us to see YOU every day. Help us to appreciate the grace that we don't deserve and from that perspective, we pray that YOU would help us to be gentle in how we deal with each other. FATHER, we thank YOU for the divine example in the model of JESUS, we pray that as we relate to each other in this community of faith, as we relate to each other in our homes, that YOU would help us to be gracious. Help us to be gentle, help us to be kind, help the love of JESUS to shine through us. May a picture of JESUS be manifested here in Anchorage through the members of the Hillside O’Malley Church. We ask these things, in JESUS' name. Amen.

 

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