“The glory of young men is their strength”, Solomon assured his son according to Proverbs 20:29. And indeed, as parents and friends of you, young people, we do desire to see you physically strong, psychically strong, that is, with strong characters, and spiritually strong. Although you may not have given much thought to it, we prayed before you were born that you might be sound in mind and in body and might grow up to be strong in the faith, with a vibrant spiritual life that would carry on the battle of faith and preserve the truth for the coming generations. The glory of the church is having strong men and women who are ready and able to further the cause of Christ in the midst of this world of sin and unbelief.
But Jesus says in the third Beatitude, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5. And this would seem to contradict what God gave Solomon to write. It would seem as though Jesus prefers weak, non-aggressive young people who, if they have physical, psychical and spiritual strength they hide them, withdraw from the battle of faith, and just sit around waiting for this earth to be given to them.
This is, however, far from the case, and there is no contradiction here at all. Indeed, by the world, meekness is considered to be weakness. And if you are thinking of getting as much of this world’s goods as you can, you had better not be meek but use all your strength of character, of mind and muscle to wrest it from those who have it, or from the bowels of the earth, or wherever it is.
Can you imagine a meek basketball team, or for that matter a meek athlete of any kind? Would one not soon be put off the team, if one in meekness let the other team take the ball away, and made no attempt to keep the other team from scoring? Would not meekness object even to having opposing teams? Why not concede victory to the other team and not exert all that strength in a competitive sport?
But consider once that Jesus declared of Himself in Matthew 11:29, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” And not only did He have tremendous, almighty physical power, infinite strength of character and spiritual strength far above any one before Him or after; but remember that He with a whip drove out the money changers and sellers of cattle from the temple, and cast the mob, that come to capture Him in the garden, backward to the ground!
We ought, therefore, to look a bit more closely at these words of Jesus so that we do not misunderstand them and draw wrong conclusions from them, and of our calling in the midst of this world as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. What we ought to see is that meekness is strength, a spiritual strength that is found in very few upon the face of this earth. And what we ought also to see and understand is that meekness in the first place is meekness before God. Yes, we will surely be meek before men. But all meekness that is not rooted in meekness toward God is due to spiritual weakness, and in fact to a lack of spiritual life. Even as all love toward man that is not rooted in love toward God is a sinful love, so all meekness that is not the fruit of a meekness before God is a sinful meekness, no matter how attractive it may look to men who are profited by that meekness.
You see, young people, God created man as a meek creature. Yes, he was created physically much stronger than the strongest of those born after the fall. He was created spiritually strong. And he had strength of character that enabled him to be king of the whole earthly creation. He was by no means a weakling in any sense of the word. Weakness came after he lost his meekness before God.
Wherein did that meekness consist? First of all, in this that he was completely submissive to God. He was completely submissive under God’s law so that he obeyed Him perfectly, but also in this that he accepted all the works of God’s providence without the slightest thought that God was not doing what He had a right to do, and was not working for his good. And that meekness was rooted in an unshaken faith in God that He is God and must be served without question, whatever His will might be.
But Satan deceived him and caused him to find fault with God’s law, and to believe that he could be like God. Satan made him believe that meekness before God was a weakness which could be overcome by disobeying Him. And today man, having fallen in Adam from his meekness and into a state of revolt and unbelief, considers meekness before God to be weakness; and consequently, that meekness before men likewise reveals a weakness of character, and that the meek are born losers. Do not believe the world. The unbeliever is wrong. Meekness is basically submission to God’s will. And he who is meek before God will display a meekness before men that is due to spiritual strength.
The meek are citizens of the kingdom of God. And remember that this kingdom is the one that exists for God’s glory and in which all revolves around and is directed towards His glory. When Adam began to go against God’s will and to do what God forbade, he revealed a nature that does not fit in that kingdom, or even want to be in that kingdom. He began to seek the earth for his own glory, sought what God gave him as means wherewith to glorify his God, and sought it now for his own flesh. Such the holy God cannot have before His face, and will not have in His kingdom when it is fully come in the day of Christ.
Losing his faith in God, believing the lie that he may do as he pleases, and that a higher glory would be his by disobeying God, and that this earth is his, not God’s, he began to walk in hatred against God. He initiated rebellion against all authority in those God placed over him. He started man on the way that takes another man’s life and wife, robs him of his earthly possessions, deceives him and covets what God has sovereignly given to his neighbor. He refuses to accept situations into which his sinful flesh has gotten him, and therefore he sanctions and finances the murders of abortions. He is not meek before God, and so cannot and will not be meek in his dealings with his neighbor. He will fight him for his goods, will lie to get his possessions, trample him under foot, take every advantage of him that he can. He does not mourn over sin as rebellion against God. He will speak of the good that is still in fallen man, and fail to see how destitute, how completely without any righteous deeds, or thoughts and desires the natural man is before God.
The result also is that he cannot take any adversities from God without complaint, and cannot be patient when the going is rough. And remember, young people, that even to complain about the weather, because it does not suit the flesh, is not being meek before God Who determines our weather. That is arrogance. It is being hard on God, giving Him a rough time, not dealing gently with Him, and not having kind thoughts in regard to Him and His works.
Remember too when you seek employment that, in a lack of meekness before God, men form unions to do violence, and to curb the income of the employer, so that he ceases to get his usual income of the goods of this earth, while in violation of God’s fifth commandment they go on strike. They are going to hurt the employer so that they get more of this earth’s goods, and because they covet what God has given others. You cannot join them and walk in the meekness of which Jesus speaks.
True meekness, as I stated, rests in an unshaken faith in God. As Isaiah declares in chapter 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” Meekness is not simply submission to God’s law. It is patient waiting, trusting in the Creator of all things that He will send His Son at the end of time to create an indescribably beautiful earth for us, and in the confidence that all will work together for our good.
A blessing it is to be meek. A blessing in this life it is to have that spiritual strength to wait and not seek the world in deeds of rebellion against God’s holy law. A blessing it is to know by such a meek walk that our citizenship is in heaven.
But get one thing straight, young people; the meekness of which Jesus speaks by no means rules out fighting for the truth and against evil practices. The meek will not fight their fellow men for earthly possessions, but they will fight for the glory of God. You can push them around as far as the things of this life are concerned, and they will turn the other cheek. But you cannot make them back up to accept meekly the lie, and let others teach their children false doctrines, or steer them in the way of evil practices. Such activity is not meekness before God. He tells us to fight the good fight of faith, to put on the whole armor of God, to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And He does not mean that we take that sword as an ornament but as a weapon wherewith to fight. The citizens of the kingdom of heaven will fight for the glory of their King and of the kingdom.
Note, however, that they will fight with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. In meekness they fight, not with sarcasm, name calling, or their flesh, but with God’s Word. They come not with a tongue-lashing but with what Scripture declares, quoting it and expounding it, and leaving the fruit to the Spirit and His almighty power.
And these meek shall be blessed with inheriting the new earth. We must stress that word inherit. Their meekness does not earn a place for them in the kingdom of heaven. The new earth is theirs as a gift of God’s sovereign grace. Christ earned places for them by His cross. And He also gives then this meekness, so that they have nothing whereof to boast. And boasting would be so contrary to their meek nature. No, they in meekness wait for the new earth that therein they may live to the glory of God and praise Him forever for their salvation.