#3 (THE "BEATTITUDES" SERIES)
"THE POWER OF MEEKNESS"
TEXT: Matt. 5:5; 11:29-30; 21:5; Num. 12:1-18
INTRO:There have always been those who have attempted to conquer the earth. We have seen the likes of the Pharaohs of Egypt, Alexander the Great, Ghangis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, the Caesar's of Rome, Adolph Hitler, etc. All these have failed!
Each one of these men who almost did it shared one thing in common; though they controlled huge armies and had great power they did not have rule over their own spirit! In the end, their kingdoms were lost and they were ruined!
And now we read Jesus' words here in this beatitude: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." This is not the quality most people associate with conquering the world!
Part of the problem is our concept of "meekness." What we usually associate with meekness is not what the Bible teaches as "meekness."
"Meekness" is a word in Greek that means, "the wild horse that has become obedient to the bit and bridle." It literally is strength under control! It is anything but whimpishness and passivism!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that it is the "meek" that will inherit the earth, and the "meek" are those who are strong in ruling their own spirit, under God's control.
I. PROPERTIES OF MEEKNESS Matt. 5:5a; 11:29-30; 21:5
A. Spirit of Contentment 5:5a; 11:29-30
1. Like the other beatitudes this one also says that those who are meek are "blessed" or "happy."
a. Contentment is the expression of happiness.
b. The meek are not restless with the need of finding something to satisfy them more than what they already have.
c. The meek find happiness in the knowledge that they are under control, God's control.
ILLUS: THE STORY IS TOLD ABOUT A RICH INDUSTRIALIST WHO NOTICED ONE DAY A FISHERMAN THAT WAS SITTING LAZILY BESIDE HIS BOAT. THE RICH MAN ASKED, "WHY AREN'T YOU OUT THERE FISHING?" THE FISHERMAN RESPONDED, "BECAUSE I'VE CAUGHT ENOUGH FISH FOR TODAY." THE RIGH MAN THEN SAID, "WHY DON'T YOU CATCH MORE FISH THAN YOU NEED?" THE PUZZLED FISHERMAN RESPONDED, "WHAT WOULD I DO WITH THEM?" THE RICH MAN ANSWERED, "YOU COULD EARN MORE MONEY, AND YOU COULD BUY A BETTER AND BIGGER BOAT SO YOU COULD GO DEEPER AND CATCH EVEN MORE FISH. YOU COULD THEN PURCHASE NYLON NETS, CATCH EVEN MORE FISH, AND MAKE MORE MONEY. SOON YOU WOULD HAVE A FLEET OF BOATS AND BE RICH LIKE ME." THE FISHERMAN THEN ASKED, "THEN WHAT WOULD I DO?" THE RICH MAN ANSWERED, "THEN YOU COULD SIT DOWN AND ENJOY LIFE AND TAKE IT EASY." TO THIS THE FISHERMAN SMILED AND SAID, "WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM DOING NOW?"-- Source Unknown
2. The meek are happy because they don't feel out of control; their own spirit is under control, God's control.
a. This sense of security allows them the freedom to be happy.
b. While events in life may not always be under control, the meek person has his own spirit under control ... therefore; there is a unique peace that brings happiness.
B. Strength Controlled 5:5a; 21:5
1. The meek are humble people, they have no need to prove their strength to others, they simply exhibit their quiet strength through the character of their lives!
a. The meek or humble man displays strength of character, not strength or control over others.
b. The meek man or woman is free from having to prove to everyone else how strong they are. Their lives show their strength in the character in their lives.
2. The "meek and mild" or humble person seeks to raise others above self. He/she has no need to be #1 or viewed as the greatest!
ILLUS:IN 1994 THURMAN THOMAS, HEAD BOWED WITH HIS HANDS COVERING HIS FACE, SAT ON THE BUFFALO BILL'S BENCH FOLLOWING HIS TEAM'S 4TH STRAIGHT SUPER BOWL LOSS. HIS 3 FUMBLES HAD HELPED SEAL THE AWFUL FATE OF HIS BUFFALO BILLS. SUDDENLY, STANDING BEFORE HIM WAS THE DALLAS COWBOY'S STAR RUNNING BACK, EMMIT SMITH, JUST NAMED THE SUPER BOWL'S MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS AWARD FOR SUPER BOWL 28. SMITH WAS CARRYING HIS SMALL GODDAUGHTER IN HIS ARMS. SMITH LOOKED DOWN AT HIS GODDAUGHTER AND SAID TO HER, "I WANT YOU TO MEET THE GREATEST RUNNING BACK IN THE NFL, MR. THURMAN THOMAS." WHAT A SHOW OF MEEKNESS, OF HUMILITY AND GRACE! -- Source Unknown
3. Those we have viewed as "great" men and women have displayed a unique meekness in their lives.
a. We are attracted to those who are meek in spirit; they reflect the best in humanity.
b. Greatness never comes to those who do self-promotion; we recoil at such displays of self-glorying!
ILLUS: GEORGE WASHINGTON SHOCKED GENERAL LAFAYETTE ONE MORNING BY MERELY BEING A MEEK MAN. THE STORY IS TOLD HOW ONE DAY WASHINGTON AND LAFAYETTE WERE TALKING TOGETHER WHEN A SLAVE PASSED THEM BY. THE OLD BLACK SLAVE, AS HE PASSED, TIPPED HIS HAT AND SAID TO GENERAL WASHINGTON, "GOOD MORNING GENERAL WASHINGTON." UPON THIS, WASHINGTON IMMEDIATELY TOOK OFF HIS HAT AND BOWING TO THE SLAVE HE RESPONDED, "GOOD DAY SIR, HAVE A GOOD DAY." AFTER A MOMEN OF SILENCE, LAFAYETTE EXCLAIMED, "WHY DID YOU BOW TO A SLAVE?" WASHINGTON SMILED AND SAID, "I WOULD NOT ALLOW HIM TO BE A BETTER GENTLEMEN THAN I." SUCH A MEEK SPIRIT! -- Source Unknown
4. The greatest strength is that which controls us, not others!!
II. THE POWER OF MEEKNESS Matt. 5:5b; Num. 12:1-16
A. Strength Channeled Num. 12:1-12
1. This is where meekness has its real power. It enables us to control ourselves, not in having to control others.
a. The best use of power is to use it over our own lives.
b. It is a sad truth when you see someone trying to control others that have not learned to have control over self first.
ILLUS: BACK IN THE LATE 1800'S AFTER THE CIVIL WAR THERE LIVED IN THE CITY OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA A FAMILIAR FIGURE; THE "OLD COLONEL" AS HE WAS KNOWN. DURING THE CIVIL WAR HE WAS FAMED FOR HIS CONTROL OVER OTHERS. THOSE UNDER HIS COMMAND SEEMED TO DELIGHT IN INSTANTLY AND IMMEDIATELY OBEYING HIS EVERY ORDER. THEY RESPONDED BY INSTINCT TO HIS VOICE WHEN HE COMMANDED THEM, WITHOUT EVEN THINKING THEY OBEYED. HE COMMANDED THAT KIND OF AUTHORITY OVER THEM. AFTER THE WAR HE HAD BECOME A HARD DRINKER, AND HIS LIFE WAS A BLUR OF DRUNKENNESS. ONE DAY IN CHARLESTON, A LARGE RACE RIOT BROKE OUT, AND IT WAS SO BAD THAT THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES COULD NOT GET CONTROL OF THE CROWDS. NOBODY OBEYED THEIR VOICE, SO IN THE MIDST OF FRUSTRATION ONE OF THEM WENT TO THE LOCAL TAVERN AND GOT THE OLD COLONEL. THEY HAD THE COLONEL PUT ON HIS OLD UNIFORM, AND THEY MOUNTED HIM ON HIS HORSE AND BROUGHT HIM DOWN TOWN. DASHING INTO THE MIDST OF THE CROWD THE OLD COLONEL BEGAN TO SHOUT ORDERS TO CEASE AND DESIST ALL HOSTILITIES -- IMMEDIATELY! INSTANTLY THE CROWDS WHO RECOGNIZED THAT VOICE OF AUTHORITY AND THE COMMAND OF THEIR OLD COLONEL BEGAN TO COME TO ORDER. ALL THE RIOTING STOPPED; QUIETLY THE OLD COLONEL RODE OFF. THEY FOUND HIM LATER DEAD DRUNK IN A SALOON. HE WAS A SUCCESS AT CONTROLLING OTHERS, BUT HE COULD NOT CONTROL HIMSELF. -- Source Unknown
2. The power of meekness is a necessity to the citizens of God's kingdom, the ability to be under God's control.
a. It is for this very reason that Paul wrote to Timothy about those who would desire to be a minister or elder and who would be ruling God's house must first have evidence of their own lives being ruled by God.
b. In this passage in Numbers 12, Aaron and Miriam decided that they had had enough playing second fiddle to Moses' leadership.
c. Though they had been successful; she a prophetess and he a High Priest, they wanted to rule more. They wanted Moses dropped a notch.
(1) You will notice that their reason for challenging Moses at first sounds reasonable, they brought up the Cushite wife Moses had just taken as the reason they came against him ... but
(2) The real reason is given in the next couple of verses ... it had nothing to do with this Cushite wife; it had every thing to do with being jealous!
3. Miriam and Aaron wanted to be more important, they were jealous of Moses' leadership.
a. It is interesting that the writer here inserts the parenthetical statement in verse 3 about Moses' meekness.
b. As though to contrast Moses' brother and sister with him, the writer makes the case here that Moses does nothing to defend himself. His meekness allows him to channel his strength though the object of their jealousy.
4. It is interesting to note that God takes notice of their complaint. (Verse 2)
a. God rewards meekness, but challenges arrogance.
b. Moses will not need to defend himself, God will do this for him.
c. God asks the 3 of them to appear before Him at the tabernacle.
d. When they appear, God speaks to Miriam and Aaron. God explains that Moses is not like them. Miriam as a prophetess God spoke in dreams and visions, which are not always understood clearly even by the prophets who have them ... but Moses, God spoke face to face with him and clearly without riddles.
5. At this point, if we had been Moses, we might have been tempted to say, "HA ... GUESS THAT TEACHES YOU GUYS!" But, Moses says nothing here!
a. His meekness still is intact.
b. However; immediately Miriam is stricken with leprosy. This is often used as a symbol of sin in the Bible. But, Aaron is not stricken, probably because he was the High Priest and this position did not allow for physical flaws. God would not dishonor the position of High Priest with something like leprosy.
c. God's anger burned against both Aaron and Miriam. These were Moses' brother and sister. They were there to support and help him, not cut him down and try and put themselves above him.
(1) As "brothers and sisters" in Christ we should remember also to not be jealous of one another.
(2) Too much harm is done by pride in the body of Christ.
6. At least when the results of their sin became clear, Aaron does the right thing. He immediately responds by acknowledging that he and Miriam had indeed sinned. He states their "foolish" action clearly as sin.
a. He makes no excuse for it.
b. Notice too that his first concern is not self, but Miriam's condition.
c. Arrogance and self promotion are foolish things in God's kingdom. They never lead to being used by God in great ways; they lead to loss of authority.
B. Secure Conquerors! 12:13-16
1. Notice how Moses responds to their painful situation.
a. He doesn't say, "I guess that will show you guys who is boss around here!"
b. He doesn't take delight in punishment for their foolish pride, nor does he attempt to put them down, instead he IMMEDIATELY PRAYS FOR HEALING!
(1) Some of us might have been tempted to pray for healing, but maybe only after they suffered a little while ... convincing ourselves that this would of course be for their own good.
(2) Moses' meek heart, however, only seeks their immediate good.
2. The meek man or woman finds no delight in seeing the proud destroyed, nor having to prove themselves right when challenged.
3. The meek man always comes with the desire to bring the erring back to God and to a restored relationship within God's family.
a. Here, Miriam and Aaron's repentant heart makes possible the restoration. Other wise, they might have been destroyed.
b. Moses is secure in his own spirit, he has no passion to elevate himself.
4. Notice however God's reaction: He reminds Moses of His word, that if a father had spit in his daughter's face, she would have been disgraced for 7 days as punishment, and so He as the Heavenly Father had in a way just spit in her face, therefore, she will be ill for 7 days. God's love does not negate the consequences of sin, it only pardons the sinner for their sin.
a. Miriam is thus leprous for 7 days. As a result she is forbidden to be in the community of God's people, she is an outcast for 7 days.
b. Imagine what she must have thought about outside the fellowship of God's people during this time ... a time that no doubt humbled her.
c. Notice too how Moses responded to all of this, he refused to have God's people leave her behind. He will not break camp and travel forward without her. What a lesson to Israel this must have been about love and meekness. What a lesson to us today about leaving behind a forgiven saint when we are ready to move forward!
d. They wait for her complete healing before moving on, and her restoration to the fellowship of God's people.
e. Only after this process was complete did Moses have the people move on. They went to "Hazeroth ... near Kibroth Hataavah, "graves of cravings." I wonder what thoughts Miriam and Aaron had while here in this place where so many had died before because they had craved something other than God's ways. They had craved Moses' leadership ... and it had cost them.
5. Moses had displayed a meekness during this whole time, he was secure and thus was a conqueror over his own spirit. This is the greatest type of power.
6. God has always shown the foolishness of man's pride and arrogance, especially for those who would see their own strength and their own pride and thus they don't feel that they need to be meek.
a. However, this in the end reveals itself for what it really is, weakness and not strength.
b. No wonder in PROVERBS WE READ: "HE WHO IS SLOW TO ANGER IS BETTER THAN THE MIGHTY, AND HE WHO RULETH HIS SPIRIT, THAN HE WHO TAKETH A CITY!" (Prov. 16:32)
c. Or also, "HE THAT HATH NO RULE OVER HIS OWN SPIRIT IS LIKE A CITY THAT IS BROKEN DOWN, AND WITHOUT WALLS." (Prov. 25:28)
7. In the end, God responds to the meek, and He shows the power of the meek over those who would brag in the flesh.
ILLUS: THE TITANIC WAS BUILT IN BELFAST, IRELAND. AT THE TIME IT SANK AN AMERICAN PREACHER WAS IN THE CITY OF BELFAST HOLDING SERVICES IN THE CHURCH WHERE MANY OF THE MEN WHO WORKED ON THIS PROJECT HAD ATTENDED. THEY HAD TERMED THE TITANIC THE "SHIP THAT COULDN'T SINK" OR THE "UNSINKABLE SHIP!" WHEN NEWS CAME THAT IT HAD SUNK AND WITH IT AT LEAST l6 MEMBERS OF THIS CHURCH HAD PERISHED, A SERVICE AT THE CHURCH WAS CALLED. ALL THE DIGNITARIES OF THE AREA WERE THERE, THE MAYOR, THE NOBLEMEN, THE LORDS, THE BISHOPS, AND MINISTERS OF EVERY DENOMINATION. IN THE AUDIENCE WERE MANY NEWSPAPER MEN AND THE NEWLY MADE WIDOWS AND CRYING ORPHANS. THIS AMERICAN PREACHER STOOD TO PREACH AND ANNOUNCED HIS SERMON AS "THE UNSINKABLE SHIP." HE DID NOT HOWEVER REFER TO THE TITANIC. HIS TEXT WAS THE STORY OF JESUS IN THE LITTLE BOAT THAT WAS ABOUT TO BE DESTROYED BY THE STORM AS JESUS SLEPT IN THE BOW OF THE SHIP AND THE FRETTING DISCIPLES OVER THEIR IMPENDING DOOM, UNTIL JESUS REMINDED THEM THAT AS LONG AS HE WAS ON BOARD THEY SHOULD NOT FEAR THAT THEY COULD SINK. HE QUIETED THE STORM AND THEIR HEARTS! HOW DIFFERENT WAS THIS HUMBLE LITTLE BOAT. IT WAS MORE SECURE THAN THE TITANIC IN ALL ITS HUMAN GREATNESS BECAUSE CHRIST WAS ON BOARD. THEY DID NOT HAVE TO FEAR ANYTHING. NO HUMAN POWER CAN DESTROY THE MEEK! -- Source Unknown
8. The meek cannot be destroyed; they will indeed inherit the earth!
a. We must always remember that the power of meekness is in its ability to rule our own spirit, not others!
b. We don't have to attack others, or seek to prove ourselves in some kind of display of power. That best display of power is to show that we have our own spirit under control, God's control! This is the essence of MEEKNESS ... AND IT'S POWER!
CONCLUSION: "Meekness" is often misunderstood. We think of meekness as someone who is meek and mild, almost sissy like. The original word translated "meekness" however, comes from the Greek word that means, "the wild horse that had become obedient to a bit and bridle." In other words it is "strength under control." There is nothing wimpy about being meek, the strongest people are the meek, and therefore, they will inherit the earth.