Tag Archives: servant

Servant

Studies in Genesis 2

I will make him a helper fit for him.” … But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:18, 20 ESV)

There is an implication in the word “help” or “helper” often ignored but for which we must give an account. Man, both male and female, when created by God were given the task of dominion over the earth and all its creatures.  Neither the earth nor the creatures belonged to Man. All belonged to God. It was Man’s task to take care for the earth and its creatures for God. Now, God is fully capable of taking care of everything Himself. He does not need Man to do anything for Him. Yet, God created Man for the express purpose to grow in knowledge of Him. Man grows to know God by serving Him in the fullest capacity of the image of God given Man by doing that for which he was designed.

By taking care of the earth, having “dominion” over it, Man learns about his Creator. Man was not created to demand the earth and its creatures serve him. Man is not designed as a malevolent dictator. That is not what “dominion” means. Some have suggested “dominion” means to rule by treading upon. It is true the word for “dominion” means to tread upon or tread down, as in to dominate. These are all legitimate uses of the word in Scripture. Yet, in Genesis 1, in the context of the creation story, Man, given the image of God, acts and works toward blessing creation, especially all the creatures. To “bless” means to kneel before, as a father kneels before his child, to give a gift even when the child does not know the value of the gift.

Man was created to serve God by serving the earth and all its creatures. No where do we see Man created to be subjugated by other people. Nor do we see the earth and its creatures existing solely to serve Man. The earth and its creatures do serve Man just as Man serves God, but not by force or under compulsion. It is the inherent characteristic of Man, all men, to serve God, and to serve each other. Man was created to serve and to grow in the intimate andc complete knowledge of God.

Our ultimate example must be Christ, not Adam, the first man. When Jesus Christ came He had the morphe of both God and a Servant coming in the likeness of a man.

Though he was in the form (morphe) of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form (morphe) of a servant, being born in the likeness (homoiōma) of men. And being found in human form (schēma), he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-9 ESV)

Jesus had those essential characteristics and qualities which make God God and a servant a servant. He is Man as Adam was before the fall, the perfect servant while completely God.

When God creates a helper for the man it is so the man can serve the helper as the helper serves him, and so both can serve God by serving the creation for which they are responsible. To be and do anything less or other than what they were designed to do and be is inconceivable.

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Blessed

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 ESV)

God blessed those He created in His image. This is the second of three times the word “blessed” is used in the Creation story. God blessed the sea creatures and the birds of the air in Genesis 1:22, telling them to be fruitful and multiply. God blessed the seventh day “and made it holy because on it God rested from all the work He had done in creation” in Genesis 2:3.

God blesses Man, who is created in His image. Man is male and female.

To bless means to kneel before, but not as one subservient to another. There are two images which may help us understand the use of the word. First, think of a father kneeling before a child to give the child a gift. Secondly, imagine one serving another by kneeling before them to deliver a service. In both instances, the one kneeling is not subservient but greater. With the father and child analogy, the father is greater than the child and is giving a gift the child needs but may not understand. In the second illustration the servant, or better, the one serving, is offering an act of mercy and compassion. In both instances the idea of blessing by kneeling strongly implies the greatest love of one for the other.

Part of the image of God is the desire to serve God and people and in doing so love them. Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is twofold.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

God declares His eternal love for people when He kneels before them as a Father giving the greatest gift needed through the greatest act of service imaginable. He gave His image. Then, He gave His Son.

God Defines Us

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [Matthew 5:17-18 ESV]

We are not defined by our environment. People will try to control our thinking and our emotions. Yet, our families do not define who we are any more than those with whom we associate. All of these people and circumstances may influence our character and mold our personality but they do not define who we are. God defines who we are. He is the One who places value. He is the One who created us in His image for relationship with Him. Sin corrupts but does not redefine.

At the final meal Jesus ate with His disciples before His passion He clearly told them what was going to happen. He would suffer. One of His disciples would betray Him to the religious authorities. Peter would deny Him three times though he adamantly declared beforehand he would never deny Him, that he would go to prison or death with Jesus. He tells them to gather their belongings, their money and things. He tells them to get a sword.

“But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment” [Luke 22:36-37 ESV].

These words remind us of His statement in Matthew “until all is accomplished.” Before sunset the coming day His life would be taken from Him, the sacrifice for which the Passover lamb they were eating was as symbol.

From eternity God knew what would happen in the space-time universe He created. He knew and controlled the outcome of the entrance of sin and the consequences of rebellion upon those who are His. He knew sin would completely sever the relationship He wanted with those created in His image. He knew in order to heal this relationship all those who are His would have to die. He decided His Son, His Son decided, He would die in our place, taking upon Himself the sentence of sin for all. In exchange those who are His are covered by His shed blood which is His righteousness. This is not a debatable truth but reality firmly established by God from eternity without beginning to eternity without end.

Jesus, the morphe of God and the morphe of a servant, lived His human life as God intended all live. Though surrounded and assaulted by sin He did not succumb to its temptation. Though we sin we were not recreated for sin, to be controlled and enslaved by it. We were created, and recreated, as servants of God, free to devote ourselves to Him, in full relationship with Him. Our place and purpose in eternity will be exactly as God intends, nor more and no less. We can never have the morphe of God but we will be His servants, the perfect and complete citizen of the kingdom of heaven. We will be like His Son.

Here is a mystery. We are separate from Him yet intimately a part of Him. We live our lives now assaulted by, even enslaved by sin, but belong completely and wholly to Him who recreated us. We gain nothing from our obedience though we have gained everything from His obedience. We carry nothing with us from this world into eternity but what He gives which is already eternal. We do not define who we are. We are defined by Him. What God is making us is at war with our temporary, rebellious self. While in the world our old self is being killed and changed and formed and conformed and separated from the world. Our world is temporary. We are eternal.

Jesus accomplished in space-time that which God determined and finished in eternity.

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [1 Peter 1:17-21 ESV]

 

Peaceful Garden

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 18:2-3 ESV]

In the beginning there was peace in the Garden of Eden. It is never explicitly stated the garden was filled with peace. Gardens carry the assumption of peace, tranquility and order. Even now one goes to a garden, not to fight or hunt, but to contemplate and enjoy the work of the gardener and the handiwork of God. We assume there was peace in the Garden of Eden.

Originally, the word “garden” meant “protected” or “fenced in,” not that the rest of the world created by God was wild and untamed (another assumption). Adam was given the world, control over it, the goal of filling it with people and the task of working it, or bringing it under his control. He was at peace with the world, with the animals, with the weather, with his wife, and with God.

Enter sin, lose peace. With the corruption of sin Adam lost peace within the Garden, expelled from it so he could not reach out and eat from the tree of life and live forever corrupted by sin. He lost dominion over the world, fighting and struggling to make the ground grow food. He lost peace with those around him, those who came after him, replaced with contention, anger and hatred. He lost peace with God, separated from Him, the source of his very life.

Neither he, nor we, have lost the desire for peace. Instead, we try to manufacture peace according to our corrupted view and expectations. Yet, what gives us peace may force disturbance on others. In our selfish and self-centered posture we cease to care about others and especially we cease to take into account God. We now build our own gardens, our own refuges, fenced in to keep out the violence and discontent of the world. We grasp for control not realizing the more we fight for control the less control we have. God did not create us to be isolated from Him. Our high fences and dense the walls containing our self made gardens exclude God, sacrificing a peace only He supplies.

When the disciples argued over whom was the greatest in God’s kingdom, they did the very thing Satan had done before falling from grace, losing his position before God. He lied to himself, thinking himself as great as, even greater than, God. So, the disciples were lying to themselves, vying for a position only Jesus could rightfully occupy. But Jesus does not rebuke them, put them in their proper place or expel them from His presence. He did not come to lord it over the world, or even take what is rightfully His. He came, with the eternal image of the perfect servant, to offer Himself and to call to Himself those who are His.

He gave them an example in a child. Unless you turn away from your twisted, sinful attitudes, reverse yourselves and stop growing like the world wants you to grow, and be like a child, you will never even enter His kingdom. You cannot be a part of an eternal kingdom and carry in anything belonging to the world. Our sinful world and all in which it contains, cannot be reconciled with God’s kingdom. Growing and learning  according to the dictates of sin cause inability to do what a citizen of God’s kingdom does, or be how God wishes.

Children are naturally selfish, as corrupted by sin as all others. They must learn, or be taught, to sin in a sophisticated manner. Conversely, they are the most emotionally trusting individuals, recognizing the authority of big people, especially their parents. Children do not know, intellectually or intimately, the desire to displace those in authority. They will love, huddle against, find comfort in the presence of even an abusive parent. Until they learn differently.

Jesus tells us to be like a child in the only relationship which brings peace. Relinquish control of ourselves to Him. Stop trying to be the authority, the king of our own garden. We will never have complete peace while in this world. We do hope for peace in eternity. We glimpse peace, never quite comprehending the peacefulness of peace. Only when we arrive in eternity will we truly have peace. Until then, we must recognize our peace with God is more important than any felt peace offered by the world. For, where God is there is real, eternal peace.

God’s Mercy to David

(Posted 1-14-14 and revised 1-15-14)

So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. [2 Samuel 24:15 ESV]

Of all of the Kings of Israel David carries the most renown. He was a truly sinful yet devoted servant of God, knowing God both intellectually and intimately. His arrogance and sinfulness are unabashedly displayed in Scripture. So, too, was His deep worship of God whom he served. His poetry in the Psalms reveal the depth of worship from his heart. He would sin boldly and repent openly. God used David and his family, and through his genealogical line gave us His Son while preparing Israel and the world to receive Messiah.

In the story found in the last chapter if 2 Samuel God is open about His determination to teach and discipline His people. “Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah'” [2 Samuel 24:1 ESV].

First Chronicles 22 tells us a slightly different story. It is one of the supposed contradictions in Scripture. Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel” [1 Chronicles 21:1 ESV]. Satan stood against Israel before God just as he stood against Job before God. Listen to what God says to Satan after his first round of tormenting Job. And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” [Job 2:3 ESV] In all three verse, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles and Job, the word “incite” means to seduce or to persuade. God incited David to count the fighting men. Satan incited David to count the fighting men. Satan incited God to torment Job. We are faced with a conundrum.

How can God be manipulated by Satan? Why would God manufacture a reason to be angry with Israel by persuading David to sin? He didn’t need to manufacture a reason because Israel continually rebelled against Him. Before we question God’s motives, assigning Him a place as Tempter, let us remember He is God and not the author of sin or temptation. He is not manipulated by Satan but uses Satan’s lies to further His kingdom. How often in Isaiah 45 does He declare He is God and there is no other (see Isaiah 45: 5, 14, 18, 21, 22).

David knew Scripture and knew he was not allowed to count the fighting men. God instructed Moses and Aaron to count the fighting men, once after they left Egypt and again after their wandering in the desert when all the fighting men from the first census had died, except Joshua and Caleb. David’s reason for counting the fighting men was to feed his vanity not out of trust and obedience to God.

Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.” [Isaiah 46:8-13 ESV]

We are His servants just as David was His servant. He is not our servant. So, when David decides to sin by numbering the people it is David’s sin, not God’s. The word “incite” means to move or provoke. God takes complete control placing David’s sin within His divine decree from eternity to eternity and says it will happen. But, it is still David’s sin, not God’s.

Even if we are tempted by Satan our sin is still our sin.

David ordered his Commander, Joab, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people” [2 Samuel 24:2 ESV]. David had been thinking, feeling, musing or pondering, perhaps in his old age, how strong he really was not how strong is his God. Joab, a strong and powerful man in his own right, saw quickly the folly of his king’s request. “May the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?” [2 Samuel 24:3 ESV]. David insisted, Joab obeyed and the fighting men were counted. And God’s wrath was kindled against Israel because of His anger against David’s lack of faith.

David, after the fighting men were numbered, knew exactly what he had done. “But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly'” [2 Samuel 24:10 ESV]. God gives David a choice of disciplines. This is unusual in Scripture, for God being God does not normally give choices nor ask what we want. Through the prophet Gad God delivers David’s options.

So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” [2 Samuel 24:13 ESV]

Shall everyone in the land be subjected to severe, lingering famine?

Shall everyone in the land be uprooted, their property destroyed, by an enemy?

Shall God inflict on those He has chosen a severe disease?

David’s choice reveals his heart. “Then David said to Gad, ‘I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man’” [2 Samuel 24:14 ESV]. God’s mercy is great. Let Him choose those who will suffer and die, and live. Let God’s active love toward His people, those who love Him because He first loved them, be shown and seen. Let Him chose to discipline or punish, to use His servants and perhaps differentiate between those who willingly serve Him and those who willfully hate Him. Let us fall into the mercy of God, for those who do not know God, and have not received His mercy will not, cannot fully, show mercy to other.

And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” [2 Samuel 24:16-17 ESV]

We do not know if those who died because of the plague were people who hated God. We do know that all people are sinful and deserve death. We can also see David’s heart in begging for mercy for those facing God’s judgment.

David saw God, the angel of the Lord, a theophany of Jesus. God’s Son does not judge but does execute judgment. He comes to testify to the truth. Jesus responded to Pilate’s sarcastic statements of who He is at His illegal trial. “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” [John 18:37 ESV].

David, though he sinned grievously recognized his sin and realized the consequences of hi sin and repent quickly and completely. He never shirked accepting the responsibility for his actions though at times he had to be confronted by God using a prophet. God’s showed mercy to Israel and to David and his family and stopped the plague.

God showed mercy to all through His Son Jesus by placing upon His shoulders the sin of all. He received the punishment for our sin. The plague inflicted upon Israel because of David’ sin still killed 70,000 men. So too, are those who will die, be separated from God because of sin, even though Jesus died for their sin. There is more at work here than simple discipline and redemption. For, God has determined what He will do from eternity to eternity, for He is eternally God. God’s mercy is both  immediate and eternal.

Sanctification, part three

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. [Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV]

When God gave Moses and all who are Israel the written moral law, with a foundation of the ten commandments, it was to hold them accountable by showing them their rebellion. In Deuteronomy 5, after 40 years of wandering in the desert because of disobedience, God inspired Moses to repeat the ten statements He gave at the beginning of Israel’s exodus from Egyptian slavery. At the beginning of their sojourn in the desert, while God was inscribing the stone tablets with His law, His people were actively sinning. They never stopped sinning. He knew having a written law without a changed heart, a heart which hungers and thirsts for righteousness, is futile.

He also gave instructions about the law and how to study it. They were to hunger and thirst after Him by intimately knowing His law. Jesus builds on the characteristics needed to obey God’s moral law found in His eternal character given to us in His image. These characteristics follow what has been discussed within the Sermon on the Mount in the previous three elements which define and describe the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. It is too easy to study once and forget what was learned. Jesus does not give the option to hear Him and then forget. We are never done with the qualities He has stated. At the risk of boring or losing some readers, I will continue to go over them throughout the study. Here, the characteristics studied are relevant to hungering and thirsting after righteousness. When fully applied these characteristics are integral to sanctification.

Those who are poor in spirit become those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. If the chief quality of those who are poor in spirit is the demand for truth, and a love for truth, and conversely a hatred for anything which is not true, then they will confront the lie and promote the truth forcefully. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness know the truth and why it is true. They are not content with simply knowing something is true but want to know what makes it true and how this truth works in the larger scheme of God’s plan. The former first draws conclusions then promotes the truth. The latter contemplates and applies truth to the theological circumstances of life. Since God works through the whole person once truth is recognized it is understood. One of the basic tools of sanctification is truth.

God is true and in Him is no lie. It is the work of the citizen in sanctification to seek Him out, to understand who He is and why He works as He does. It is not the work of the citizen to try to predict how God will work but to study Him and patiently listen for His words and watch for His actions. Here, poverty of spirit will help the citizen to immediately discern truth from fiction. It is those who hunger and thirst for righteousness who will delve deeply into the mechanics of the truth and how one point affects another.

Truth is fundamental to the person of God. His moral law, which is truth, is also essential to Him. He has given us both truth and His moral law in the word of God, which is His Son and the written declarations found in Scripture.

God uses the verbal law to train us in His spiritual, eternal moral law. But the necessary attitude to learn, through the prompting and council of the Holy Spirit, is the attitude of mourning over sin. We must not only realize the fact of sin but recognize its consequences. Knowing, even in a cursory manner, the moral law of God will cause mourning. Only in repentance, not remorse but a complete turning away from sin and trusting God, will the soil of our souls and spirits become fertile so His moral law can grow in us.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness do so because the moral law of God is growing in them. They require spiritual nourishment given only by the Holy Spirit so the fruit of righteousness might grow and ripen. It is righteousness, being right as measured by God, which produces this good fruit. Jesus says “you will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:15-20), by the evidence of their lives. It is the evidence of life God uses to judge (see Matthew 16:27) those created in His image.

Six times in Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus points out to His hearers the difference between intellectually knowing and simply observing the law or only doing what is required and the spirit of the law, intimately knowing the law, the Lawgiver, and going beyond what is required.

You have heard that it was said to those of old [Matthew 5:21 ESV; see also verses 27, 31, 33, 38, and 43]

But I say to you [Matthew 5:22 ESV; see also verses 28, 32, 34, 39 and 44].

He is telling those who listen the central quality of a citizen of the kingdom is who they are which dictates what they do. God is making citizen who are His not just people who say they are His. Observing the law, the Mosaic Law of the Hebrew Scriptures, or any law attributed to God, will not make anyone righteous. A life which has grasped the spirit of the Law is shown by a going beyond the simple requirements of what is written and expected to living the Law without a thought.

Murder is against the law. Being unjustifiably angry is against God’s moral law. Adultery is against the written law. Looking on another to sexually lust after them is against God’s moral law. Violating the written law brings physical punishment. Violating the spiritual moral law of God brings separation from God. Those who must be restrained by physical, verbal laws are incapable of fulfilling a moral law. There must be a fundamental change to their deepest being. This fundamental change is the indwelling of the Spirit.

None of the previous discussion means anything without the attitude of servant-hood. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness by pursuing the truth do so because they want to please God and not themselves. Service is another measurable tool of sanctification. Those who recognize truth and seek it with all their being are cut to the core, divided by its edge, separating the dying physical from the living spiritual. This is the true work of sanctification, the separation of anything which distracts them from seeking God and His righteousness. Service to God is more than simply accomplishing a duty. It is throwing oneself into the work given by God.

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” [Luke 17:7-10 ESV]

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will look for ways to serve God, and promote Him, without putting self before Him. Abandoning self to God while living in the world demands a relentless pursuit of His will and a complete subservience to His moral law. This means there is a pursuit of intimacy with God and a relinquishing of control of self to God.

God gives all those who are His a tool, the word of God, and the training needed to live as a citizen of His while in hostile territory. His tool is at once spiritual, intellectual, emotional and willful. It is not physical, though we must use this tool within the physical realm. God’s word involves the whole person in the battle because the whole person is created by Him in His image and the whole person is redeemed by Him.

All of these personalities, all of these characteristics, are needed to use the truth as a tool. This tool is a sword, double-edged, and cutting both ways, outward and inward. Before the tool of truth can effectively be used to confront the surrounding lie it must first be used on the inner person. God’s truth demands compliance, not simply assent. Sanctification, the seeking of truth makes the citizen fearless in its pursuit. Wherever the truth leads, whatever lie it exposes, however it unfolds life, those who seek truth will find God.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. [Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV]

Meekness: Conclusion

Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 ESV]

One of the tools used by the world, our own flesh and our Adversary is the redefining of words to cause confusion and division. People change the way they think as the meanings of words change and are used over and again. A fetus is a fetus but when you call a fetus a baby people think of something they have seen and possibly held and for whom they have cared. When we allow ourselves to think of “meekness” as characterized by weakness we lose the power of the word and cannot think correctly. While the definitions of words may change over time and with use the truths taught by God and His Son in the Scripture do not change. How we understand and use the words form our thinking which in turn motivates our actions which ultimately shows the evidence of our relationship with God.

Our definition of meekness and the discipline of the person who is meek cannot be over emphasized. We cannot spend too much time on the subject. We can spend too little. Meekness is first God’s strength just naturally under God’s control. God gives His strength and many other tools, to the person who has relinquished control of self to God.

Here is a baffling paradox: How does a person corrupted by sin do that which is completely against his fallen nature? How do I relinquish control of myself to God when I am, even knowing I am His, continually rebelling against Him? Only in God Himself is an answer found to these questions.

He takes those who are His through the process of sanctification where they recognize the fact of sin and then realize its consequences, which is separation from God who is the source of life. God expects obedience coming from His strength. Though we are responsible to obey His commands He does not want us to use our own strength because it is defined by rebellion against Him. He demands obedience from the whole self, the whole person, from our minds, emotions and wills. This obedience isn’t to a checklist of requirements like the Mosaic Law but the deep motivation of listening to and hearing His voice followed by a desire to  obey out of love for Him. He calls those who are His to recognize their sin and that of the world and then to realize the consequences of sin, followed by repentance, faith and obedience.

He tells us to be perfect and to be Holy but not under our own efforts. We can do nothing to make ourselves either perfect or holy. We can recognize His Son died for our sin and realize His blood covers us so that when He looks at us He does not see our sin but the perfect sacrifice of His Son. Relinquishing control demands a change of the thinking of our hearts from deciding to work in our own strength to actively deciding to continually relinquish control to Him who capable of fulfilling His promises. We are at war with sin. This war is for the weak to fight in His strength, not for the strong to fight in their own.

He gives the tools and weapons we need to fight the war raging against and within us. As citizens of His kingdom His expectation for obedience is absolute. There can never be a battle fought with even the smallest atom of our own energy and won. We must use the tools and weapons He has given in His strength having relinquished our own self to Him. This is meekness and this is why the world views meekness as weakness and with disdain. We do not fight the way the world fights.

One of the chief characteristics of Godly meekness is Godly leadership. A Godly leader has first learned to serve having completely relinquished control of self to the goals of their master. Only then can they be used by God to lead. This does not mean they will lead but that by knowing how to serve they have learned how and are continuing to learn how to lead. In Scripture the greatest leaders are the humblest servants who have placed themselves under the complete authority of God.

Jesus says “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” [Matthew 5:5 ESV]. Those who are truly meek do not want the earth. They want God. They do not want to serve themselves. They want to serve God. They may gain much in the world but they gain God completely. Nothing else matters.