Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blessed are the Meek

(Me and Aerial)
Blessed are the Meek-A devo-inspired by Oasis Message

-Matthew 5:5

Aerial, my horse, and I have been companions for about ten years now. She is the sweetest thing; chestnut-brown in color, a black mane and thick, beautiful tail and two white socks on her back legs. She has a white ‘strip’ down her face: adorable. I first got her when I was 11 and she was 9 years old. She had not been ridden for a while because her previous owner went off to college and did not have time to ride and show her like she had in the past. Now, Aerial is one of the sweetest, most gentle living things on the face of the earth. She seriously has to work at killing flies by slapping her tail against her body because she is just that nice (hehe!). Aerial however, is very head strong and I recall the first few months of riding her as a total-body, strength-conditioning class. Picture a little 11 year old girl, noodle-armed and scrawny-build trying to turn this massive 1200 lb animal around in the arena. To get her to stop literally took every muscle in my body down to flexor halucus longus in my big toe. Eventually, with lots of practice, Miss Aerial and I discovered that life was much more enjoyable when she submitted to my leading and directing. Soon we were doing patterns for English and western pleasure, reining, western riding and trail. Aerial and I went on to have a very, very successful showing career and developed an awesome friendship.
Ok, enough bragging about my horse, the point of this little analogy is to re-iterate what Pastor Rick spoke on at Oasis in Matthew 5 verse 5 on the beatitude :
“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” ESV
What does my horse have anything to do with this passage of scripture? Well if you recall, Rick used the analogy of having a horse with a bit in its mouth and related it to how the bit does not take away the amount of strength and power within that horse: it merely harnesses the strength. Being meek is often looked at as a negative quality in today’s society. “Meek” has the false-definition of someone who is weak, powerless and a push-over. The Greeks would agree with this false-definition in the sense that they too saw it as a weakness to be meek-in-spirit. It is interesting however, how Jesus used this quality to describe a person who would actually inherit the earth. The English Standard Version Commentary says this:

“Meekness (Gk: prautes translated to gentleness in Gal. 5:23) was considered weakness by the Greeks, but Jesus elevated it to a primary Christian virtue (Matt. 5:5; 11:29) Meekness comes not from cowardice or passivity but rather from trusting God and therefore being set free from anxious, self-promotion.”

Let’s look at these two other passages mentioned within the commentary to get a better picture of what it truly means to be “meek”

Galatians 5:22-23: “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

This passage associates the quality of “gentleness” (interchangeably with meekness) as a ‘Fruit of the Spirit.’ If we were to use the Greek’s opinion of the definition of being meek, we would be saying that the Holy Spirit-God is weak, passive and a push-over. Yikes! Even though you cannot come close to comparing God’s strength to a human being, it would be as if we said that Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t lift a 5 lb weight. Meekness is an attribute and a gift from following the Spirit.

Matthew 11:29-30: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In this passage of scripture, Jesus is addressing the concept “Come to Me, and I will Give You Rest.” The cross-reference for verse 29 “for I am gentle and lowly in heart” is the beatitude in Matthew 5:5. Here again, Jesus-God is associating Himself with the quality of meekness. Why would he describe himself as weak and a push-over? I love this passage because it makes me just want to give Jesus a hug. The idea of Him being meek is so inviting and restful.

What about the second half of the verse: “for they shall inherit the earth.” Somewhat of an odd statement to make is it not? Again, let’s try to dissect the passage a bit by cross-referencing to get a better understanding.

A verse in Psalms parallels this Matthew 5:5 perfectly: “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” Psalm 37:11

Other verses include: Psalm 25:13, Proverbs 2:21, Isaiah 57:13, 60:21, Ezekiel 37:25 I am going to paraphrase these verses into four main points for time-sake but please take the time to read the verses yourself!

1) In regards to “fearing the Lord, his offspring shall inherit the land” (Psalm)
2) Upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it (Proverbs)
3) But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain (Isaiah)
4) give the land that God gave to Jacob (Ezekiel)

All of these passages have a theme of land being given to certain group of individuals. Land is and was a big deal to receive. If you think about it, we base a lot of our identity off of where we live and where we came from. Texans never stop talking about where they are from; it’s usually the second adjective that comes out of their mouths when they introduce themselves “Hi, I’m so and so and I’m from Texas.” On a more serious note, inheriting the land can also represent the act of getting to be with Jesus and that “we have overcome the world” because of Him. The English Standard commentary says this referring to the verse in Proverbs 2:

“Verses 18-19 refer to the paths of death and life to indicated these paths ultimately lead, the upright will inhabit the land also looks not simply to the possibility of long life on earth but to the inheritance to which the path is headed (and contrasted with the wicked being cut off from the land.) For a similar reference to the “land” used in the context of wisdom language referring to the way of the wicked and the righteous see Ps. 37:11.”

So “inherit the earth” as you can see, has a much deeper meaning than just getting a piece of land: it is speaking of our inheritance as children of God in His Kingdom.

Aerial understood the importance of submitting to my pulling of the reigns because she obeyed her owner when I asked her to go right, left or to stop (along with some voice commands and cues from my feet!). She soon became so sensitive, that even the way my body was positioned on her back was a cue for what she was suppose to do and where she was suppose to go. That direct connection between a horse and rider is the kind of connection we should have with God. In moments of decision, we should simply sense the leading of God and immediately submit to that cue because we know that we will not only inherit the earth but it pleases Him!


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