Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
To be meek is to truly understand what I am and how that affects my interactions with others. I see others through the lens of my own sin. If I am poor in spirit to the extent that it causes me to mourn over sin, then I approach others in a spirit of meekness.
To be meek is slightly different than to be poor in spirit. Poor in spirit is how I am before God, meek is how I am before men (which explains why the poor in spirit inherit the kingdom and the meek inherit the earth).
To be meek is to acknowledge I am a sinner both before God AND man.
To be meek is to live with the mindset of Philippians 2:3-11.
• Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.
• Interact with others in humility of mind.
• Consider others as more important than us.
• Don’t merely look out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others.
• Have the attitude of Christ, who emptied Himself of glory and took the form of a bondservant, humbling Himself to the point of going to the cross.
To be meek is to leave my rights in the hands of God – Psalm 37.
To be meek is to be like Moses, who was a “friend of God” and yet was more humble than any man – Numbers 12.
To be meek is to so understand the depths of my sin that I do not think of myself as better than anyone, and realize that no matter how I am treated, I deserve worse. This really affects EVERYTHING I do and EVERY relationship I have. No matter how brief or unimportant any interaction I have with another human being is, it’s affected by my incorporation of this quality. [Nowhere in the Bible are we ever instructed to seek personal justice or stand up for our rights. As a matter of fact, later in this sermon Jesus will tell us to turn the other cheek, go two miles when we’re forced to go one, and give our shirt to one who steals our coat. Paul will say that when we believe we are crucified with Christ – we die – and it is no longer we who live but Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20). And God tells us that He will take vengeance when it’s required – we are not to seek vengeance on our own (Rom 12:19). All these commands and admonitions make it very clear that we are not to be the arbiters of our rights. Our rights are with God. So when we demand respect and justice from others, we go against the character of Christ and instead act out of pride.]
The meek are merciful and non-judgmental. I don’t consider myself better than anyone because I know my sinful heart and my status apart from God, therefore I’m much more forgiving and much less demanding.
To be meek is not to be wimpy or indecisive or weak. It’s to realistically understand that as a forgiven sinner I have no rights.
To be meek is to inherit the earth, the exact opposite of what the world expects for the meek. People who fight for themselves and their rights and think they’re the center of the universe will not ultimately inherit the earth – it’s the meek!
To be meek is to fulfill our created purpose. We aren’t here for ourselves, and we can only live for our Creator and for others when we have a spirit that doesn’t demand our place at the center or the top or the front.
Individually, each man tends to assume, without thinking, that he is at the center of the universe; therefore he relates poorly to the four billion others who are laboring under a similar delusion. (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; 21)
To be meek affects our interaction with God. We no longer demand happiness or become bitter when bad things happen. Our expectations change. It also affects the focus of our prayers; prayer becomes more others-centered, not as consumed by self. We should spend more time on our intercession for others than on our petitions for ourselves, not only out of charity but out of realism – because there ARE more others and therefore more needs. (Peter Kreeft, Prayer for Beginners; 28)
The meek inherit the earth in this life in that they are satisfied and content. If I leave my life in the hands of God, I have no expectations of material prosperity or easy living or even health and protection in this world. I don’t resent what others have because what I have is from God, and whether it’s a little or a lot, it’s more than I deserve and nothing compared to my redemption. What do wealth and comfort matter if I’m a forgiven sinner?
The meek enjoy ultimate freedom. If my rights are with God and my prosperity is with God and my health is with God and my treatment by others is with God and I know that whatever happens in this life I am ultimately redeemed by God, what can anyone do to me? If I am a hell-deserving sinner bound for heaven, what can possibly offend me or cause me to worry or arouse envy or resentment in me?
The meek will ultimately inherit a new heaven and earth, so they live with eternity in mind. And when we see ourselves as aliens and strangers in this world, we won’t be obsessed with our rights and welfare.
To be meek means that you have finished with yourself altogether, and you come to see you have no rights or deserts at all. You come to realize that nobody can harm you. John Bunyan puts it perfectly. ‘He that is down need fear no fall.’ The man who is truly meek is the one who is amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do. That, it seems to me, is its essential quality. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount; 57-58)
To be meek ultimately means to follow the example of Christ. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls (Matt 11:29).
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied
This grows out of the first three beatitudes. Our spiritual poverty drives us to mourn over sin and understand our right relationship to God and others. Our realization of sin drives us to long for righteousness. We hunger for what we don’t have on our own.
To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to seek satisfaction in God – to seek God.
To hunger and thirst means we desire it more than anything else. To someone who is starving, money/sex/prestige/material goods mean nothing – the only thing that matters is food. The same should be true of righteousness. Since we’re completely sinful apart from God, we should desire righteousness more than anything the world has to offer. The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
To hunger and thirst for righteousness means we CRAVE it like water in the desert or food in a famine. It is part of our homesickness – we long for something that connects us to home while we live as aliens and strangers in a world we aren’t meant for.
To hunger and thirst for righteousness means we long to obey God’s will. Our hunger should steer us to God’s Word (His will in written form).
NOTHING in this world delivers ultimate satisfaction, but Jesus says this longing will be satisfied. Don’t miss this promise – SHALL BE SATISFIED. He doesn’t mince words, He doesn’t hedge. IF we hunger for righteousness, IF we hunger for Him, we will be filled. Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (Jn 4:13-14). [The defining characteristic of any worldly reward is that it doesn’t ultimately satisfy.]
For a longing to be satisfied it has to be satisfied with what it longs for. That’s why Jesus promises righteousness to those who hunger and thirst for it. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37:4).
Hunger and thirst are the most basic of human needs – they are a matter of survival. In one sense, you could say this is the one beatitude that we don’t have to work on – it should come naturally out of our spiritual poverty and mourning over sin. No one has to work at being hungry or thirsty – they are natural responses to lack of food or water. The same is true here. Our intense familiarity with sin makes us starved for righteousness.
We’ll ultimately be filled with what we hunger for – no one stays empty. If we aren’t filled with righteousness, we apparently have an appetite for other things (if we’ve spent years cultivating a taste for the rewards of the world then it will be difficult to develop a taste for righteousness – we don’t crave fruits and vegetables if we’ve spent our whole lives eating fast food). And if we don’t see fruit in our lives and don’t see evidence of becoming conformed to the image of Christ, perhaps it’s because we have a small view of our sin and thus a faint hunger for righteousness.
Contrast the ultimate satisfaction Christ promises with the rewards of this world ultimately being destroyed. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (II Peter 3:10-13).
The person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness is blessed by God, and filled; but the righteousness with which he is filled is so wonderful that he hungers and thirsts for more of it. The more a person pursues conformity to God’s will, the more attractive the goal becomes, and the greater the advances made. (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; 24).
So understanding our spiritual poverty makes us relate to others differently and makes us long for the righteousness we don’t have. That’s why we absolutely have to understand who and what we are apart from Christ. It makes the gospel more vibrant, it makes God more treasured, it makes others more acceptable. We love God better when we know we’re poor. We love others better when we know we’re poor. We live God-pleasing lives when we know we’re poor. Focusing on ourselves and thinking highly of ourselves are the polar opposites of what Jesus calls us to. He instead calls us to focus on Him, and let Him change how we see ourselves, how we see others, and what we ultimately desire.