Uncovering Happiness: Finding Happiness in a Messed Up World –
3. Meekness and Righteousness
Matthew 5:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for
for they will be filled.
So we are in the third week of our series; “Uncovering Happiness”. We have been asking the question if it is at all possible for us to actually be happy in this world? And we discovered in the beatitudes that the answer is yes; however, it is not found in what you do, but whose you are? If you belong to the right King then you are part of the blessed.
This word blessed that Jesus uses here means fulfilled delight, and we have discovered that fulfilled delight is only possible if you belong to the kingdom of God! As the beatitudes are situated in the sermon on the mount by Jesus that is all about the Kingdom of God.
Now, we asked how do we enter the kingdom of God and we started looking at that last week; and we discovered that it is only possible in the gospel of Jesus Christ; therefore, those who enter the kingdom of God are only those who:
Are poor in spirit; they can see that they cannot do it on their own; they need help to be saved. Those who mourn; not simply who are sad but those who mourn over their sins.
Tonight we will continue and look at the last two characteristics of those who enter the Kingdom which is they are those:
Who are meek and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.So again lets just dive right into the study.
1.Those who are meek
When Jesus says blessed (delightfully fulfilled) are the meek for they will inherit the earth, what does he mean? What does he mean by meekness? Well, to fully understand it; look at your world; we live in a world where boldness, arrogant confidence and self-promoting aggression is actually what is honoured. It’s a dog eat dog world out there after all.
Let’s ask again; does it satisfy the soul; does it fill you with fulfilled delight to be the guy who tramples on the little guy; who aggressively demands his way; who seeks his/her own way and achievement.We have found ourselves in a world where self promotion is not only a part of life it is an accepted norm.Just look at your social media feeds and how full of naked self promotion they have become. And the incredible thing is that people have become blind to it. We don’t even think it is weird to live like that; because it’s social media!
So meekness is the opposite of what is happening on Facebook 90% of the time. So meekness is the opposite of arrogant self promotion; however, we must see that biblically it is not a worm-like mentality. Some people are “meek” not because they see less of themselves but because they see too much of themselves. When you cannot interact in a social event because you are too shy, you are not seeing too little of yourself you are too concerned; you concern yourself with the opinions of others too much! It is the same with people who are unwilling to confront wrong, and those who are too “shy” to engage.
The meekness spoken about here is power under control a sense of self-forgetfulness that enables a person to be who they really are without it coming across as obnoxious or overbearing.You see “The meek ones are willing to see themselves as they really are. This concept they have of themselves is evidenced in their submission to God and His Word, as well as in their dealings with others.” - Gill
So the meek are those who see themselves soberly; that honour others more than themselves, who know they have power but live with that power in check. Essentially they are the nicest human beings ever! The question is and has to be; how? How is this even possible? How could we ever hope to live like this? Well you can’t! You see in this idea of meekness is surrender, because it is connected to the previous two beatitudes; it is actually only found by people who have surrendered their lives who have seen that they cannot so they give up and truly say; “Lord you have to take over.” It is only found in someone who says; “I am not my own!” and it is only when you truly say that that you can truly be this kind of meek. Without Christ being your identity and confidence and strength you will always be making too much of yourself (or too little) to prove yourself, to make up for guilt; to show those people that you can actually do it! Until Christ is your all, until the gospel has become your identity, until Christ has become your identity you can never hope to actually achieve this kind of self-forgetfulness. We are always too concerned about our impact, the way we portray ourselves, our look, what others think. But think about it, as a kid (and I mean when you were small) did you concern yourself about this? and guess what; you were happy! Why? Because your identity wasn’t everything! You see we always make too much of how others see us! And this is the great crux of the whole matter, we are too bound up by sin, pride, and the idea that I am mine, to ever hope to overcome our self-obsession.
Our only hope is to see ourselves as we truly are; not enough, not impressive, actually a failure on every level that actually counts! This by itself, however, doesn’t actually help us; it actually makes us hopeless, unless we see that even though we are not good enough, even though we are failures; there is someone who is willing to literally give us His perfection; His success, His strength for us! This is what Christ has done for us on the cross, he has taken our failure, and said it is mine; so that we can take His righteousness and say His righteousness is mine! Now see what that does for you psychologically; it says that you are now good enough, you are powerful, you are able, not because of your own merit (which we all know would lead to pride and looking down on people), no, it is on the merit of another; which psychologically means that we eternally live with a state of grateful humility! With real meekness. Our victories cannot define us; and our losses do not destroy us! Jesus is the start and end what makes us who we are! So a fulfilled delight is found when we accept that God and God alone is our strength our ability and our future!
And this is seen in the fact that blessed are…
2. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
I love the way Jesus portrays this; they hunger and thirst for righteousness! It is a fundamental reality of their being! It is how they conduct themselves it is connected to their primary needs. They need righteousness! The funny thing is we all need righteousness, and so we spend our lives self justifying our action our lifestyles our everything. We all need to feel justified; like what I did is okay, even when we know it is not.
So we tell yourselves, that we are okay, that what we do might be a grey area, or at least I am not as bad as that person. The question we ask again is does this work? And again the answer is no! We know we don’t live up. I mean we don’t even live up to our own standards of what it right. We can’t excuse the fact that we have chosen to make bad and wrong choices. And the rebuttal to me saying this is you can’t judge you have also done thing wrong. To which I would reply, yes I have done things wrong, but that doesn’t mean because we have both done wrong that now wrong simply goes away; it just means we are in the same boat; and that boat is sinking! Wrong still remains wrong, bad, still remains bad, no matter how we try to redefine it and make it seem like it is not.
So, if we are all in the same boat, wrong is wrong and we have all done it it; what is the solution; how can we even attempt to hunger and thirst for righteousness without coming across as complete hypocrites? Well, if you are basing it on your own righteousness you simply cannot. You cannot logically and consistently call out others for the wrong they do; when your wrong is so blatant. That is hypocritical. And I have seen this far to often, where people come down on someone like a ton of bricks for small sin/wrong while behind the scenes they are hiding a myriad of private sins that are even worse than the sins that they are calling out. Most of the world today sees this and rightfully rejects it as an honest way to conduct yourself; most people call it for what it is; hypocritical! However, if we are basing that right on someone else’s righteousness then we can speak in gentleness and love while still being firm enough to call the sin a sin. This only happens when we understand grace completely, when we live in the Cross; when we really live from the fact that it is Christ’s righteousness that is my hope and not my own.
You see if you are living for your own righteousness, in other words you are trying desperately to live a good life; your calling out of sin and rebuking of others for not living up to righteousness is always ‘you focused’ and always from a place of superiority and generally not from love. Why? Because it is not genuine; you don’t live up to your own standards; and deep down you know it so the way we assert this false rightness is to push down others. This comes out in a, “I can’t believe that person did that.” Etc. This is why the religious are known not by their love by by their hatred, they have to; it is the only way they can live with the fact that they don’t live up to their own standards! Now grace is different; because it says you are accepted then you obey and not the other way around, and so it frees you from this insatiable desire to justify yourself; to assert your own righteousness; in grace you know that you have no righteousness on your own! You know that it is Christ and Christ alone who is your perfection. Therefore, this changes the way you interact with people and also changes the whole way you see the world. It gives you a gentle world view to see that the fundamental problem in others lives is their sins (you can see more than before how it is deadly serious), however, because you know you couldn’t live up and you now know that it is only in Christ that we can possibly live right you don’t condemn, you call them to their only source of healing: the Cross! It is a subtle but powerful change. And it comes down to our world view; either we see people’s salvation in the ability to be right or we see the power to change in the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Does this mean I then don’t call out sins; of course not! Our sins sent Jesus to the cross; I see them as more deadly than before; however, I see hope now, not in my ability to fix myself; rather, I see it in grace and the gospel. This is the only power to save me! In this I hunger and thirst for His righteousness; and the beautiful thing is only in the gospel that I know righteousness will be fulfilled, so it is only when I hunger and thirst for His righteousness that I know it can be filled, and in fact it has been fulfilled 2000 years ago on the cross.
The gospel literally sets me free from the performance trap! And that frees my soul to actually follow and obey God not because I have to, but because now I want to! Not because I fear, but because I love.
So quickly; how to we apply this
3. Applying this day by day
You are not your own; your identity is in Christ, your righteousness in not your own it is Christ; therefore, you whole life must be lived in the presence and from the perspective of the cross. In other words; I don’t live from the perspective; how can I live up, how can I prove to God that I am worthy of His love. Rather, we live from the perspective that I am awesomely loved beyond my wildest imagination, and I rest in that, I wake up in the morning not asking How can prove that I am good enough today LORD, rather we wake up saying,
“38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39)
And that gives you a new heart to actually live up to that! It is when that love crashes into our hearts that we start becoming more and more like Christ!