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.
Now I come to that which I have here in the Text.
For they shall inherit the earth.
It’s as strange a promise as any we have in Scripture, As much against carnal reason as any thing almost in all the book of God: —— Blessed are the meeke: —— I you will say they are blessed, they may get to heaven when they dye, but they are like to suffer a great deale of wrong while they live: Nay if we do put up wrongs and beare with others that do us injuries, we may have wrongs enough, and we may quickly loose all that ever we have, this is the reasoning of a carnal heart, but Jesus Christ if you dare trust him, he professes that of all men in the world the meek are those that shall inherit the earth, it shall be better with them in the earth then with other men.
Jeremiah Burroughs, “Sermon XII or Meeke Persons Subjects for Christ to Comfort,” in The Saints’ Happiness (London: William Greenhill; John Yates; William Bridge; William Aderly; Philip Nye; Mathew Mead, 1660), 190.
O Lord, I humbly crave that thou wilt let me be little in this world,
that I may be great in another world;
and low here,
that I may be high for ever hereafter.
Let me be low, and feed low, and live low,
so I may live with thee for ever;
let me now be clothed with rags,
so thou wilt clothe me at last with thy robes;
let me now be set upon a dunghill,
so I may at last be advanced to sit with thee upon thy throne.
Lord, make me rather gracious than great,
inwardly holy than outwardly happy,
and rather turn me into my first nothing,
yea, make me worse than nothing,
rather than set me up for a time,
that thou mayest bring me low for ever.
This prayer is found in Precious Remedies for Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks, device 8, remedy 6.
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.
By many measures, George Muller had extraordinary success in his ministry. Unlike many who crave attention, Muller craved The Lord. At each step, Muller’s method followed the lead of Psalm 121:
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Such a complete dependence is the aim of any true believer of Christ — and yet we rarely show moments — much less a life of such dependence. Pierson reviews Muller’s life and notes 24 separate aspects of Muller’s development and education God used to make the man who could be used of God to run the orphanage. The education — and then work — of Muller illustrate Paul’s commendation in 2 Corinthians 12:
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God, having saved Muller, then led Muller into a complete dependence upon him (which was the point of God permitting the messenger from Satan buffet Paul. (2 Corinthians 12:7) Muller’s faith did not come in flash but rather it grew over the course of years.
The basic element of Muller’s piety was a complete devotion to the Lord which consisted of study and meditation on the Bible:
8. His satisfaction in the Word. As knowledge of the Scriptures grew, love for the divine oracles increased, until all other books, even of a religious sort, lost their charms in comparison with God’s own text-book, as explained and illumined by the divine Interpreter.
9. His thorough Bible study. Few young men have ever been led to such a systematic search into the treasures of God’s truth. He read the Book of God through and through, fixing its teachings on his mind by meditation and translating them into practice.
20. His habit of secret prayer. He learned so to prize closet communion with God that he came to regard it as his highest duty and privilege. To him nothing could compensate for the lack or loss of that fellowship with God and meditation on His word which are the support of all spiritual life.
Muller’s piety was consciously personal — he relied not upon an abstraction but upon the Triune God. Therefore, communication — reading, meditation and prayer lay at the heart of his life. Such a personal reliance makes sense of Pierson’s observation as to Muller’s preaching:
15. His waiting on God for a message. For every new occasion he asked of Him a word in season; then a mode of treatment, and unction in delivery; and, in godly simplicity and sincerity, with the demonstration of the Spirit, he aimed to reach the hearers.
One does not wait on a word from an abstraction, but rather waits on a friend. Such intense and real friendship, led Muller to a complete dependence upon God:
18. His stress upon voluntary offerings. While he courageously gave up all fixed salary for himself, he taught that all the work of God should be maintained by the freewill gifts of believers, and that pew-rents promote invidious distinctions among saints.
19. His surrender of all earthly possessions. Both himself and his wife literally sold all they had and gave alms, henceforth to live by the day, hoarding no money even against a time of future need, sickness, old age, or any other possible crisis of want.
Which dependence even extended to occasion for service:
10. His freedom from human control. He felt the need of independence of man in order to complete dependence on God, and boldly broke all fetters that hindered his liberty in preaching, in teaching, or in following the heavenly Guide and serving the heavenly Master.
11. His use of opportunity. He felt the value of souls, and he formed habits of approaching others as to matters of salvation, even in public conveyances. By a word of witness, a tract, a humble example, he sought constantly to lead some one to Christ.
Pierson concludes the Muller’s ministry derived from Muller’s seeming weakness. Note the difference between Muller’s true humility — and a false humility which focuses on self. Moses was “very meek” (Numbers 12:3) and he led Israel. Neither humility nor being meek hinge upon self-deprecation but rather in selfless coupled to dependence upon God.
Muller demonstrates humility by seeking to be utterly transparent to the work of God:
To lose sight of this sovereign shaping Hand is to miss one of the main lessons God means to teach us by George Miilleris whole career. He himself saw and felt that he was only an earthen vessel; that God had both chosen and filled him for the work he was to do ; and, while this conviction made him happy in his work, it made him humble, and the older he grew the humbler he became. He felt more and more his own utter insufficiency. It grieved him that human eyes should ever turn away from the Master to the servant, and he perpetually sought to avert their gaze from himself to God alone. “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things—to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Arthur Tappan Pierson. “George Müller of Bristol.”
THE THIRD ASPECT OF TRUE WISDOM: CHARITY & MEEKNESS: ECCLESIASTES 7:20-22
The person who meekly and charitably bears with the faults of others – even if that fault is something as extreme as speaking ill – is a great means to obtain happiness. Since, thoughts of revenge will only cause one to be upset. You can’t be happy and rage with hate at the same time.
Ecclesiastes 7:20-22: 20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that does good, and sins not. 21 Also takes no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: 22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knows that thou thyself likewise has cursed others.
Charity and meekness towards others, in bearing and passing by man’s infirmities and injuries in and from them opposed to a suspicious, censorious, revengefull and implacable mind. This most excellent part of true wisdom )whose virtue and use is of large extent in all conversations and society( is set forth by synedoche64. 1. In one kind of fault which is most apt & usual to breed offence, viz, evil speeches. 2. In one kind of men, which are the fittest objects on whom men think they may best discharge their choler.
Servants and inferiors: Touching these we are commanded, Take no heed to all the worlds that are spoken, take not to heart all offensive speechs that are uttered in heat and passion, in jest or in earnest; think not too much on them, hear and hear not; hear, but dissemble and pass by in love, without bitterness, wrath and displeasure: This do as in regard of others, equals or superiors, so even of the servant whom thou should not hear in severe examination and animadversion for every speech or not cursing thee in greater contumelies, bitter complaints and execrations, verse 21. Now this meek and merciful bearing with others’ faults, is commended unto us by a double argument:
(A) From the common condition of human fraility; in many things we sin all, even the best, For there is not a just man, no, be he never so just upon earth, in all the world, that doth good, viz., only and sinneth not. Wherefore, in scanning of others faults, we must consider ourselves, lest we likewise be tempted, verse 20.
(B) From the conscience of a man’s own failings and infirmities in the same kind haply for which he now condemneth others. For oftentimes thine own heart knoweth not that thou hast cursed others, spoken ill, reviled, railed & c. upon others, for which notwithstanding thou wouldest have them pardon thee, and use the favorably; do so likewise thyself to others. Hanc veniam petimusque damnique vicissim, & c., verse 21.
64 Here a synecdoche is a part given as an illustration for the whole. For example, when there is a call for “all hands on deck”, we hope not merely to see the hands but rather the entire body of the sailor. However, the “hand” being the working part is emphasized and the part stands for the whole.