Have you ever sat down and tried to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) as if you had never read it before? Have you ever imagined what it might be like to be a zealous Jew of Jesus' day, waiting for a Messiah to redeem Israel from Rome's dominion, and hearing Jesus preach this message? Have you ever tried to think of what your life would be like if you actively applied and lived the Beatitudes?
These are some of the thoughts our pastor has been helping us to think as he takes us through the Sermon on the Mount. So far we have gone through three of the Beatitudes, and there is one word that I might put to it:
Biblical truth is painful, but that's good! It goes against our natural grain, but it is to change us to the pattern of Christ.
Today's text was "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Pastor's theme was "Meekness of character involves the restraining influence of the Spirit of God producing a governed life of selfless sacrifice." He talked about the nature of meekness and really made me think about how meek I am-- or rather, how meek I am not! He described meekness as being like a broken-in horse-- it is "strength under control". It "maintains strength while yielding self-will". Meekness in our lives will be seen in our relationships with God and others. Am I always asserting my rights, trying to prove myself or lift myself up, and getting angry when people don't do things the way I want them to? Am I always defending myself and pretending to be something I am not just to gain man's approval? If so (and it is so far too often!), I have some serious adjusting to do! I need to submit myself to God and allow His Holy Spirit to transform my life, rooting out the pride for which all other vices grow and making me more like Jesus Christ.
One thing that really "hurt" was a quote of Martin Lloyd-Jones that Pastor quoted. I didn't write down the exact wording, but the idea was as follows: It is not that hard for we ourselves to realize of ourselves where we need to change, or to admit we are desperate sinners. But when others bring it to our attention, all of a sudden we become defensive and angry that someone would point out something wrong in us. It is the indwelling, fleshy desire for approval that we must ask Christ to cleanse from our lives if we are to be like the meek and lowly Jesus.
In the world's eyes, meekness is weakness. Their question is, "How can the meek inherit the earth? They don't stand up for themselves, they don't promote themselves..." But Christ's kingdom is different than man's ideas of one, and His is the only right way. As we march under the banner of Jesus Christ, victory is sure. "The truly meek man is completely satisfied -- weaned off of earthbound hopes -- has nothing and yet has all. The appeal for the earthbound, for approval, is gone."
(P.S. Sentences in parentheses are from the outline or random sentences of his that I jotted down in my note-taking.)