Meek Not Weak (Blessed Anyways - Part 4)
Today we're going to look at the most misunderstood attitude -- the attitude of meekness.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5
The word "meek" has lost its meaning. It doesn't mean what it used to mean. Today it's a slur. If you call a man meek, he'd be insulted. You don't put it on your resume. What do you think of when you think of meek? Some spineless jellyfish with no conviction.
Meekness is not weakness. There are only two men in the Bible called meek: Jesus and Moses. Neither of them were pushovers. Meekness means strength under control. The Greek word referred to a wild horse tamed or medicine that could tame a fever. Meekness is strength under control. Jesus said, "Happy are those who don't over react to people."
So today... Five ways to work on your reactions:
#1 - When someone serves you...
be ___UNDERSTANDING___ not ___DEMANDING___.
How do you treat people who serve you? Waitresses, secretaries, clerks, tellers at the bank, fast food operators. Are you understanding or demanding? Ask anyone who serves in a restaurant: What is the hardest crowd to serve? The Sunday after church crowd! How does that square with Paul's instructions?
Philippians 2:4-5 "Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others too, and in what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ's."
What do you think it does to the thinking of that young server when they are rudely treated by people who obviously have just come from church? What does that do to God's reputation? Or ask people from other countries. Americans have a reputation overseas of being very, very pushy, very rude, very demanding, and not understanding.
We cannot control how the rest of our countrymen react... but we can do something about the way American Christians respond. We work on our understanding. We ask questions. We seek out the good of the other guy/gal too. It's not us vs. them. It's all of us together. We ask: How can I make your day better? That should be our attitude.
Let me give you a little insight... if you are going to a restaurant and you dress and speak in a way that sets you apart as a Christ-follower... you'd better be generous with your time, your words, and YES... your tip!
#2 - When somebody disappoints you...
be ___GENTLE___ and not ___JUDGMENTAL___.
"Accept him who is weak in the faith without passing judgement on disputable matters." Romans 14:1
Happiness comes when you can accept people who have not attained your level of spiritual performance. They don't have to reach up to your level to be loved. We don't even think about this when it comes to the physical abilities, right? How many of us would be critical of a six-month baby for not being able to walk? Or even when there are two one-year olds, one walks but the other crawls, who cares? Who compares?
But when it comes to the new Christ-follower, or the Christ-follower from another Christian background than ours, we pass judgment all the time. And usually over the silliest things. What Paul calls "disputable matters." That's not how we are supposed to respond. We should be gentle and not judgmental.
"If a person is trapped in some sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens." Galatians 5:1-2
How do you react when somebody messes up his life? Do you excited about it: "I told you so! I could see it coming! Only a fool would have done that. I wouldn't have been that dumb." Do you have a secret sense of satisfaction when other people blow it? Meekness is when people disappoint you, you are gentle, not judgmental. The one thing that angered Jesus most, more than anything else in life, was with self righteous religious people who were always judging others. Don't put yourself in that same spot. Learn to be gentle, not judgmental.
#3 - When someone disagrees with you,
be ___TENDER___ without ___SURRENDER___.
The fact is, you can't please everybody in life. Just about the time you get Crowd A satisfied, Crowd B gets upset. One minute you're the hero, the next minute you're the zero. You need to learn to be tender without surrender. Never before in our lifetimes, has this principle been more needed. The test of spiritual maturity is how do you handle disagreeable people, people who irritate you, people who like to contradict you, people who like to get in arguments, like to quarrel with you.
We have become very good in our country today in dividing people from one another. When someone says something that contradicts your deeply held beliefs, you have three alternatives: (1) You can retreat in fear; (2) You can attack in anger; or (3) You can respond in love. Sadly, we don't see this third option modeled much in our politics or our media. But responding in love, with tenderness, is the Christian way.
With that said, you need to know that meekness is not compromising your convictions. You can be tender without surrender. Meekness is not being passive, being a doormat, giving in, always letting the other person have their own way. That's not meekness, it's weakness.
So how can we respond with tenderness when someone says something that violates our own deeply held beliefs. First - check-in to my own internal motivations. Second - check-up for wisdom from God.
"Wherever there is jealousy or selfish ambition, there will be disorder... But wisdom from above is pure, peaceful, gentle, and friendly."
Circle "gentle". That's the same word as "meek". Meekness and gentleness means strength under control -- a gentle giant. How can I be a gentle giant? First - check into my own attitudes. An argumentative spirit indicates an ego problem. If you like to quarrel, if you like to get into arguments, you've got an ego problem. Jesus says, that a person who is meek is happy because he is tender without surrender. Meekness is learning to disagree agreeably. Meekness is being able to walk hand in hand without seeing eye to eye. In a marriage, when two people agree on everything, one of them isn't necessary. You eat with a knife and a fork, not two knives. We need variety.
When people disagree with you, you can be passive, a doormat -- "Go ahead, have your way." -- or you can fight them tooth and nail, blow up, get angry, fight back, be sarcastic. Or you can respond in love -- a gentle answer. To do that, you will have to be checking-up with God's Spirit in your life often. Regularly you give God's Holy Spirit control over your own disagreeable, argumentative, quarrelsome spirit.
Did you know that this idea of responding with tenderness without surrender is actually a qualification for spiritual leadership? It's one of the best ways of knowing if someone is ready to be a leader in church!
"The Lord's servant must not quarrel... those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in hope that God will give them a change of heart."
2 Timothy 2:24-25
The Bible says that I am not to argue with people. I am not to get in a quarrel. I am to gently instruct and hope that God will give them a change of heart. Around Church Requel, we like to say, "In the essentials we have unity; in the nonessentials we have liberty; in all things we have charity." We allow for diversity within the body of Christ.
#4 - When someone corrects you,
be ___TEACHABLE___, not ___UNREACHABLE___.
Meekness is a teachable spirit. Meek people are eager to learn. Meek people don't pretend they know it all. They know they don't know it all and they don't try to pretend they know it all.
"Let everyone be quick to listen, but slow to use his tongue, and slow to lose his temper." James 1:19
This verse tells how to control your temper. If you do the first two (quick to listen and slow to speak), the third (slow to temper tantrum) is automatic. If you're quick to listen, and slow to speak, you will be slow to anger. But if you're slow to listen and quick to speak, you'll be quick to anger. You need to listen. Use your ears. Be teachable, not unreachable.
When someone makes a constructive suggestion to you, how do you relate to it? Do you get uptight, defensive? Don't consider the source, consider the suggestion. Meek people don't have all the answers. Be very wary of people who have all the answers. Those are people you need to be afraid of. They're dangerous.
Are you open or closed to new ideas? Are you open to change or closed to change? "We've always done it that way!" A meek person doesn't close his/her mind... they're not unreachable. They are open to change. That's what teachable means. That's what being a student means. Actually that's what being a disciple means! You cannot be a student of Christ without being meek, without being teachable! Right now, check in with the Holy Spirit in your life and ask, am I teachable or unreachable?
5. When somebody hurts you,
be ___PROACTIVE___ not ___REACTIVE___.
This is a fact of life: you will be hurt. You will have hurts in life. You will be hurt by other people -- intentionally many times. The meekness question is how do you respond to it? What is your normal reaction when people hurt you intentionally? Retaliate! Get even! We're usually at our most creative best thinking up methods to get even. We are so good at thinking up creative strategies for revenge.
To retaliate is to react. But to respond with forgiveness, even when they haven't asked for it, is to act, to take the initiative, to be PRO-active.
If you've ever said, "You make me mad!" you are admitting that someone else controls your emotions. The moment that you start retaliating, seeking revenge, trying to get even, you give up control of your life. You are reacting, not acting. That's a position of weakness. Meekness is the ability to handle a hurt without retaliating. The best definition of meekness in the Bible is
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his own spirit, [better] than he who captures a city." Proverbs 16:32
What determines your emotions? Can you control your own emotions or does somebody else? Your emotions are either controlled by circumstances or by character. It's your choice.
"That makes me so mad... so sad... feel so bad..." Circumstances are controlling how you feel. I choose to feel happy. I choose to not be depressed. Happiness is a choice. Your emotions are either controlled by circumstances or by choices. Meek people are self controlled, controlling their reactions toward life.
Jesus promised, "Happy are the people who can control their reactions, for they will inherit the earth." What does "inherit the earth" mean? You'll be in control of your situation. The world is yours. The meek person controls the situation because he's not controlled by it. If you are a meek person, you are no longer a victim. You control your choices.
Conclusion: Jesus is saying that happiness belongs to people with self-control. You may be saying, "That leaves me out! I can't control my reactions! I can't get them under control!" But I know Somebody who can help you get them under control.
"God's Spirit does not make us timid, instead His Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7
God says, When I put My spirit in you, the results are three fold: power, love, self control. The secret of controlling your reaction is letting God's Spirit fill your life moment by moment. He'll break all those bad habits, all those patterns of reacting, all those old ways of being negative, defensive, reacting in fear, in anger, in sarcasm. He can break all those old patterns in your life and fill your life with power, love, and self control.
That is meekness. Power controlled by love. Even though you could blow them away you don't. Jesus is the prime example of this. He's hanging on the cross and He could have called ten thousand angels. He could have blown up the world. But no, He had power controlled by love.
This is the happy, relaxed, stress reduced type of life style. You roll with the punches. Things don't fluster you because you're in control of your reactions even though you can't control the situation. Some of you are stressed out. You're stressed out by relationships. What do you need more than anything else? You need to develop the quality of meekness, the quality of controlling your reactions by the Spirit of God.