Here is the lesson for “Blessed are the Meek”: blessed-are-the-meek-1
Adopted from Jeremiah Burroughs’ The Saints’ Happiness (1660), “Rules and Helps to Christian Meeknesse”
Meekness is a rare quality, sadly even in professing Christians. It is a supernatural quality, being a gift of the Spirit. But the Spirit would also have use work through means. There are ways of living which are more conducive to godliness. Jeremiah Burroughs gives us 15 means which will help us to become and remain meek:
First, learn to prize the sweetness of a quiet spirit. If you are in a meek frame, you are not merely restraining some contrary impulse, you are not just holding down your anger. To be meek is to be in a peaceful frame despite tempting circumstances. When temptation comes, think of the temptation: this will cause me to lose the sweetness and contentment of heart which I would have if I were to flee this temptation.
Second, covenant with God in the power of Christ to exercise meekness and quietness. You may need to renew this covenant every day, or every morning — you may need to renew this covenant every three hours. Yes, merely determining to give up the sinful passion for a short time will not destroy the sin completely, but it will have the effect of dampening the fire of the sinful passion. “O, if you could be overcome yourselves for a day, you fins so much good, as it would exceedingly help you against another day.”
Third, you must also have repentance and “humiliation” for the days before when you did sin. “Go get alone and apply the salt tears of humiliation onto that [sickness of sin] and see what this will do: humiliation for [sin] that’s past will be a special help for time to come.”
Fourth, watch your heart, take heed of your passions. When you see your heart beginning to stir into a passion, check yourself. A fire is easier to extinguish when it is small than when it gets going. “Look upon passion as if it were poison, and take some remedy immediately: don’t let the poison to continue to work in your heart.”
This applies also between people. Think how often one evil word leads to another evil word. And if it does not immediately break out into open conflict, it may fester as suspicion and dislike. Don’t let this happen. Stop sin as soon as it is seen.
Fifth: we become angry because we want something and don’t get it. Be realistic: you are going to be disappointed in this world. Stop pretending that the world about you will also bring you what you want. If you would merely begin with the realization that you will be disappointed, you not be so surprised and angry when you circumstances or others fall short (and you will fall short for others, too).
Sixth, consider your frailty: you will disappoint others. So, when someone disappoints you, stop and consider, I will do the same myself and very soon. Galatians 6 explains that we have the duty to be about bearing one-another’s burdens. We need to bear up with the weakness of each other.
It is the sinfully proud person who thinks that everyone must please them and they are excused from pleasing anyone.
Seventh, work hard to keep your heart at peace with God.
Eighth, never do anything in anger: especially don’t “confront’ someone in anger. Think of it, a doctor would never pour scalding hot medicine down someone’s throat. When you are in conflict, “keep your passion down and call in the grace of meekness”.
Ninth, when you realize what your passions are heading in a sinful direction stop and redirect your passions. You do not need be controlled by a sudden passion. This is the excellency of a Christian: we do not need to be controlled by our affections, but our affections can be changed.
Tenth, do not multiply words. Be careful to stop speaking so as to avoid provoking another.
Eleventh, mind your own business. If you are diligent in the things God has given you, you won’t have time to be upset about things that are none of your business.
Twelfth, you don’t need to be constantly spying out faults and complaints with others: don’t notice every fault of a co-worker, or a child, or a spouse. “You must see and not see, if you will be of a meek spirit.”
Thirteenth, realize that the Devil labors to get you up into a passion, because then you are easier to tempt to some sin.
Fourteenth, keep the examples of other people of God who demonstrated meekness in trials: don’t be like Cain who killed his brother in anger. Be like Moses who patiently bore attack. Be like Jesus, who is the perfect example of meekness.
Fifteenth, be ready for the next temptation.
(The introduction for the next lesson in a peacemaking culture):
Meekness is not easy, it is not common, it is not “normal” to human beings. Meekness is a supernatural patience by which the Christian submits joyfully to all of God’s providence and bears gently and quietly the ill use of other people. Thomas Watson explains, “Meekness consists of three things: the bearing of injuries, the forgiving of injuries, the recompensing good for evil.”
Meekness is something which we highly prize in others. It is also something which we think is unnecessary, or foolish, or excused in ourselves. We are very happy when others patiently bear our failings, our mistakes, our anger or neglect. We very easily think that we have no need to bear meekly with others — and, at the same time, think no one has been as meek as we have been in the face unending insults, trials and temptations.
There can be no true peace within the Church, unless there is meekness in the members.
Therefore, in the hope that we can all become more meek — and thus more joyful in our service and more graceful with one-another — we will consider three aspects of meekness this evening:
First, What is meekness?
Second, What makes meekness difficult?
Third — this is a two-part question: What are the blessings of meekness? The blessings for the individual. The blessings for the church.
WHAT IS MEEKNESS: A GENTLE, JOYFUL PATIENCE
Moses is the first person called “meek” in the Scripture. In fact, he was the most meek man in all the earth. The story begins with Miriam and Aaron attacking Moses’ wife (apparently on racist grounds) and Moses’ ministry:
12 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2 And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. 4 And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. Numbers 12:1–4 (ESV)
At this point the Lord rebukes the two for attacking Moses. What is of interest for us, is that it is in the meekness of Moses is exposed in the midst of attack. The meekness of Moses shows in that he does not retaliate, rather he actually prays that God will spare Miriam. It is precisely what Peter calls the Christian to:
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8–9 (ESV)
Peter then quotes Psalm 34 — which sets fort he blessing of the meek.
Letter V: Advice to a Young Minister
Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride the secret of division.
The fifth letter is ministry advice to a young man who has set into ministry. The man has asked Newton what to expect in ministry. Newton’s advice should be heeded by anyone who has or will enter into ministry. And, while the letter is directed specifically to the preaching pastor of a congregation, the observations, warnings and encouragements are use to anyone involved in Christian ministry at any level:
Greeting & Commendation
I. You Will Meet With Difficulties
A. Have you prayed?
B. Don’t be naive.
C. Sweet then bitter
II. Three Difficulties You Will Meet
A. General Observations
2. Two temptations.
a. The temtpation of anger and bitterness
i. Ruin your work
ii. How to respond.
b. The temptation of self-importance
1. A danger few will avoid
2. Do not mistake gifts for grace
3. How God protects us.
D. Spiritual Weakness
2. Never preach again.
Here is the letter with analysis:
This is a curious introduction. Newton is writing to an (apparently) young man who has recently been ordained to the ministry. However, he does not merely praise young man; he also includes a prayer:
I hope he has given you likewise a heart to devote yourself, without reserve, to his service, and the service of souls for his sake.
As Newton will make clear, the work of a Christian minister can be brutally difficult. Only a man whose heart is devoted to Christ’s service will complete this work.
I. YOU WILL MEET DIFFICULTIES
The body of the letter concerns the difficulties which a minister will meet. Newton first begins with a general statement.
A. Have you prayed?
You have, doubtless, often anticipated in your mind the nature of the service to which you are now called, and made it the subject of much consideration and prayer.
As Newton will make plain, the difficulties of ministry are supernatural: they are snares and temptations, and “natural” responses will only make things make things worse.
B. Dont’ be naive.
I remember being in law school, thinking I had some idea what being a lawyer would be like. I quickly learned, I had only learned enough to later learn how to be a lawyer.
Likewise with pastoral work: One can train, but even those most closely connected to a pastor cannot quite understand the nature of the burden. There is something unique in the weight of ministry:
But a distant view of the ministry is generally very different from what it is found to be when we are actually engaged in it. The young soldier, who has never seen an enemy, may form some general notions of what is before him: but his ideas will be much more lively and diversified when he comes upon the field of battle. If the Lord was to shew us the whole beforehand, who that has a due sense of his own insufficiency and weakness, would venture to engage?
COUNSELING PROBLEMS AND BIBLICAL CHANGE
BIBLICAL SOLUTIONS FOR ANXIETY, PART ONE
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
–The Knowledge of the Holy
If you were to pick up a Christian book on anxiety it would likely contain a thorough going treatment of anxiety. There might a look at someone in the Bible who was anxious (say Saul in 1 Samuel 13); perhaps some Bible verses on anxiety, et cetera. There may be another section about medical aspects of anxiety; perhaps some secular material on anxiety, et cetera. In essence, you would find a systematic theology of anxiety.
There is nothing wrong with a systematic approach to theology, but it is not the only way to consider a topic.
The Bible nowhere has a book on anxiety (or depression, anger, marriage, childrearing, et cetera). When the Bible tackles a subject, it takes place in the context of several other often seemingly unrelated subjects. Peter addresses marriage in the midst of a discussion of worship, suffering, glory, the Second Coming, the atonement and congregational church life. In placing marriage in this context, Peter transforms the question of marriage from a matter of merely a woman, a man and their personal happiness. When we understand it this way, there is a reason Peter does not address marriage until chapter 3 of his letter – and a reason he has to more chapters to follow. Peter wants us to think of marriage in a particular context.
In this series of lessons we are going to look at problems not in a systematic manner but rather in a contextual way. We are going to look at problems as they are embedded in Biblical texts to see how something like anxiety relates to the resurrection (as Paul makes the connection in Philippians) or depression relates to worship (as is done in Psalms 42-43). At first, this may seem strange, because it is unfamiliar to us. However, in the end, I hope that you will learn to see your entire life through a Scriptural lens and begin to understand that your hopes and sorrows and fears and joys all ultimately relate to your theology: To put it another way, as you learn to understand God you will begin to understand how the way you relate to God affects everything in your life.
I. KING DAVID & ANXIETY
David led an anxiety producing life. The first time we see David, Samuel anoints David as King (1 Samuel 16:1-13). Normally, being made king would be considered a good thing. But David was anointed King while Saul was still king – and Saul was insane. David was hired by Saul to play soothing music whenever Saul fell into a fit.