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Lesson 10: Meekness in the Crucible *

Introduction: Do you remember when you were dating and you would hang on every word your date would say about you? Sometimes you were pleased and sometimes not. When I was dating my wife (to be) decades ago I recall her singing "My Guy" to me. Here are the lyrics that caught my attention "No muscle-bound man could take my hand from my guy. No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy. He may not be a movie star, but when it comes to being happy, we are. There's not a man today who could take me away from my guy." It was, to say the least, a mixed message. This reminds me of our lesson this week. We are told that if we are described as "meek," (as in "meek and mild") that is a compliment. Being meek is a goal. The value of being "meek" is not obvious, so let's jump right into our study of the Bible and find out more!

  1. What is a "Meek?"


    1. Read Matthew 5:5. Is this what you would expect to read? Would it be more consistent with your experience if the Bible said "Blessed are [the very bright], [the very strong], [the very rich and persuasive]: for they shall inherit the earth?"


      1. If this is not what you expect (or have seen), why is it that the meek inherit the earth? Is it because of the very bright, very strong, very rich and persuasive God who intervenes on their behalf?


      2. Or, is this a rule of life for which intervention by the smart and strong is not needed?


    2. Perhaps we need to consider what the word "meek" means. Barnes' Notes says that it is "patience in the reception of injuries." I think we can agree that someone who is meek has been "injured" in some way and has not responded in anger. Is that the end of being meek: suffering in silence?


      1. Would being meek mean that we surrender our rights? (Read John 18:23. Jesus is making a legal objection. He is asserting His legal rights.)


        1. Does this mean Jesus was not meek?


        2. Barnes' Notes adds this about meekness: It is not "a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance." Do you agree?


      2. Would you be a "meek" if you sued someone, but did not punch someone who had wronged you?


        1. Is there a difference in the two? (When you claim your legal rights, you are asking a third party to intervene. When you punch someone, you are taking matters into your own hands. If Barnes is right, then invoking your rights before a third party is consistent with being meek.)


  2. Happy "Meeks"


    1. Look again at Matthew 5:5. What does "blessed mean?" (According to Strong's it means "happy.")


      1. If someone has wronged you and you are being patient - not punching them back - how does that make you happy?


    2. Read Psalms 37:7-11. We see here that Jesus was not coming up with a new idea, He was quoting Psalms 37 when He said "Happy are the meek: they will inherit the earth." Let's look more closely at this longer explanation in Psalms of the merit of the meek.


      1. Read again Psalms 37:7. Would this describe the attitude of the meek?


        1. On who are the meek relying to make the matter right?


      2. Read again Psalms 37:8. This text tells us to refrain from being angry - which I think we can understand the logic of that. But, it also tells us not to worry, because that leads only to evil. How do you understand that statement?


      3. Read again Psalms 37:9-11. Is this a solution to your particular problem, or is it a global solution for all the meek? (It sounds global, but if you read Psalms 37:14-15, it seems that rule applies at least some times to particular problems.)


      4. Overall in these verses, can you find the basis for the claim that a "meek" will be happy and a "puncher" unhappy? (If you fret and get angry, you are obviously not happy. On the other hand, if you simply trust God that He will "cut off" all of the wicked troublemakers, and you will have the promised land to yourself (and the rest of the meek), then you can be happy in the future.)


  3. The Power in Meek


    1. Read Romans 12:17-19. Here Paul repeats the same idea. Let me get back to my original question: are the meek happy and successful because being meek is inherently better, or it is because a smart, strong, powerful God stands in the wings ready to make things right by His power?


      1. Where would a "meek" be without his God?


    2. Let's continue on with Romans 12 and read Romans 12:20-21. Here is a new, and contrary idea, being meek can overcome evil. How does that work?


      1. Notice the tension between Romans 12:19 and Romans 12:20-21. One says "Be patient, God will get them." The other says, "Be meek and kind, goodness will get them." Are both true?


        1. If so, how can both be true? (The greatest example of overcoming evil with good is the life and death of Jesus on our behalf. However, there is a Second Coming of Jesus in which He comes with "punching power." The answer to this contradiction is in the timing and in the role assignments. God approaches us first with kindness and love. We are to do the same with the bad guys. (Even in this God has a critical role because it is the Holy Spirit who "heaps the coals." Ultimately, though, there are "bad guys" around who will be dealt with by raw power. That role, the raw-power to make things right role, is not assigned to us.)


  4. Perfect "Meeks" Explained


    1. Read Matthew 5:43-48. How many enemies do you have? Count them.


      1. How many people persecute you? (Unless there is something wrong with your emotional intelligence, or you live in peculiar circumstances, the number of people who truly are your enemies and who are persecuting you must be very small.)


      2. What opportunity is presented by the very few who enter your life to persecute you? (You should value these people. They present to you the opportunity for character growth. They can teach you things that cannot be taught by people who are always nice to you.)


      3. I'm not sure I know how to "love" my enemies. That does not seem possible(aside from heavenly help) if "love" means "affection." Further, I'm not sure what I should be praying about when I'm told to pray for them. "Please may they break a leg - but not a compound fracture, so it will heal properly." We get a hint of what God means in the example that God gives us. Notice that Matthew 5:45 says God "shines" and "rains" on the wicked. How could He avoid doing that?


        1. Can we interpret "loving" our enemies by simply doing for them what we would do for anyone else? Not withholding some good that we could do for them? (Read again Romans 12:20. It means at least this.)


          1. What does Romans suggest about our prayers for our enemies?


          2. Should we pray for them to break a leg?


          3. Should we pray their plans do not succeed? (There is no doubt that "loving" our enemies means helping them with the basics of life. However, I think praying for their failure is like "suing" them - only better. When we pray that they fail we turn the matter over to God. That is what it means to be a "meek.")


    2. Friend, our natural heart resists being meek. Will you ask God to make you a "meek?"


  5. Next week: Waiting in the Crucible.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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