Meekness in the Crucible

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Matthew 5:5, Psalms 37, 1 Peter 5
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 10

Meekness in the Crucible

(Matthew 5:5, Psalms 37, 1 Peter 5)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Does that sound right to you? The meek conquer nothing, so they must inherit it from those who do? I’ve spent my life as a warrior in the legal system and I teach future warriors. That does not seem meek. Is it possible that I’ve taken the meek approach the entire time and did not realize it? Let’s see what the Holy Spirit can do to help us better understand as we explore what the Bible says about the meek!

  1. Understanding Meekness
    1. Read Psalms 37:11. What does this teach us about Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:5? (He is quoting Psalms 37:11! It is very hard to understand the context of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:5, but we have great context that we must explore next in Psalms 37.)
    2. Read Psalms 37:1-2. Why should you have peace when you are tempted to envy evil doers? (Evil doers have a limited life-span.)
    3. Read Psalms 37:3-4. If we trust, follow, and obey God, if we “befriend faithfulness,” what is the outcome? (God will give you the desires of your heart.)
      1. Can you see a parallel between having the desires of your heart and inheriting the earth?
    4. Read Psalms 37:5-6. What results in justice? (Trusting God. “He will act.”)
      1. Does that mean that we do nothing? We just sit back meekly and watch? (We are told to “commit your way to the Lord.” If we do this the Bible promises that your “righteousness” will be brought forth “as the light.” That sounds like I’m called to do something. Otherwise, there would be nothing to bring to light.)
    5. Read Psalms 37:7-8. What, specifically, are we told to refrain from doing? (Don’t be impatient. Don’t get angry. Don’t fret because it might cause you to do something that is itself evil.)
    6. Read Psalms 37:9. This is another text promising that we shall “inherit the land.” How do we do that? (We “wait for the Lord.” The evildoers will be cut off by God.)
    7. Read Psalms 37:10-11. How would you define being “meek” in the context we have studied? (It means relying on God instead of our self. It means trusting God.)
      1. The light is dawning on me. Knowing that God was with me in very high tension litigation has been central to allowing me to be able to handle the stress - to say nothing about winning. Does that attitude make a person meek?
    8. Psalms 37:12-20 continues with illustrations of how the wicked plot evil against the righteous but God breaks the arms of the wicked while laughing at them. Read Psalms 37:21-22. Here is another statement about us inheriting the land. What does this say we should we do to inherit the land? (Be honest and generous with money.)
    9. Read Psalms 37:27-29 and Psalms 37:34. Here are two more statements about God’s people inheriting the land. What do they say about those who inherit the land? (This repeats the same theme that those who love and obey God are preserved and protected by Him, while the evil are destroyed.)
    10. Now that we see the big picture of the context for Jesus’ statement about the meek, how would you define being meek? (One who trusts God when facing evil.)
    11. Did you notice the references to being still and waiting on God? Does that mean that my warrior life was misspent and I should retire from teaching future warriors? Before answering my question read Deuteronomy 20:1, Micah 5:9 and consider the life of King David, the writer of Psalms 37. (We need to consider the teachings of the Bible as a whole. God has many warrior followers, of which King David may be chief. He co-operated with God to defeat evil.)
    12. So, how does this work? How can we be a warrior and at the same time be meek? By the way, I’m talking about “culture warriors,” and not about physically hurting evil people. Can you find any examples in the Bible that illustrate this fusion of warrior and meekness? (The book of Esther is a wonderful example. God defeats great evil intended towards His people. Esther is central to the story as a “culture warrior” who stands up for her people in a very dangerous context. Read Esther 9:12-13. We see that actual warriors are also used by God to defeat evil.)
  1. Understanding Humility
    1. Many would define meekness to essentially be humility. What does Psalms 37 have to say about that? (Waiting on God and trusting in Him are actions that are consistent with humility. God’s followers wait on God.)
    2. Read Matthew 23:12, James 4:10, and 1 Peter 5:6. If you are a genuinely humble person why would you want to be exalted?
      1. Are these texts for proud people (or people who aspire to be proud) to give them a roadmap to being exalted?
      2. Should you be humble simply because that is a good way to conduct your life? If so, why would the Bible promise that you will end up being exalted?
    3. Let’s revisit 1 Peter 5:6. The Vulgate Latin version of the Bible, as well as some other older versions say that the humble will be lifted up “in the time of visitation.” When would that be? (In heaven.)
      1. Does it make sense that the way the humble are exalted is when they get to heaven?
      2. If you think that is true, consider again the nature of heaven. What makes you special here and now? Your intelligence, your looks, your musical ability, your athletic ability, your business ability, or a skill of some sort?
    4. Read Philippians 3:20-21. When we get to heaven, what kind of body will we be given? (This text tells us that our “lowly” (meaning humble) body will be like the glorious body of Jesus!)
    5. Read 1 Corinthians 15:52. Another way to translate “imperishable” is “incorruptible.” Will we all be equally gifted? (If we are deficient in some area, say intelligence, I understand that is a corruption that will be fixed.)
    6. The United States Declaration of Independence says in pertinent part: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” If you spend any time in a classroom you realize that is not true. We all have equal opportunity, but some are smarter or more ambitious than others. Would you agree that in heaven, the Bible says that this statement will be literally true?
      1. If you answered, “yes,” how are the humble exalted in heaven when we are all equal? (It must mean that we are all exalted - that is all those who made it into heaven.)
      2. Does this cause us to have a different definition of true humility? That a humble person is not willingly “less than,” but rather “equal to” others?
    7. Read Psalms 62:9. What makes the poor and the rich equal? (They both are dependent on breathing. The idea that being rich keeps you breathing is a “delusion.”)
    8. Read 1 Peter 1:24-25. Why does Peter compare us to grass and flowers? (We have a very limited time span. Recall that we previously said that about the wicked.)
      1. Why is God’s word a good counterpoint? What lesson does Peter want us to draw from this distinction? (God’s promises in the Bible are eternal. God’s program is eternal.)
    9. Let’s step back and contemplate the parallels between being meek and being humble. Are the characteristics of being meek and humble like being weak or inferior in some way? (Being meek means that you rely on God for victory, and not on yourself. Being humble means that you realize that success in life comes from God and is fleeting, while our relationship with God stands forever.)
    10. Friend, God has in mind great things for us. If you aspire to being exalted, if you aspire to overcoming evil, if you want to do great things for God, our study this week teaches us that there is a process. That process starts (and ends) with deferring to God. We obey Him. We trust Him. We follow His lead. We have the attitude that everything comes from Him. If you do that great things come your way.
  2. Next week: Waiting in the Crucible.