Qualities of Genuine Happiness, Pt. 4
Study Guide, November 1, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
In our last study on one of the qualities of genuine happiness we explored one of the most astounding promises that Jesus ever gave to His followers. Let’s look again at Matt 5:5- “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” NKJV Now there are about a hundred things that are interesting about this verse, but we’ll just point out a few…or a few more from last time.
Now, of course, as we talked about in our last study, it is absolutely amazing how important it is to our Creator to grant rulership or stewardship of His created world to His children. Remember, when you look around at this beautiful Earth and the beautiful heavens, we should hear God saying to us: “I made all of this for you!” God made this for us! The physical world is God’s gift to His physical family…or for all those who also are a part of His re-born spiritual family.
But again, God wants His family, He wants us, to now be the managers and the stewards of His Earth…especially of His New Earth and New Heavens that are about to be established as His Kingdom. In fact, as we pointed out last time, much of the experience of ancient Israel and the Promised Land was to depict or to symbolize future realities. And we pointed out, that even our own Founding Fathers looked to ancient Israel, to its government, and their practices of things like private property and free markets, as guides for formulating the republic of our own country. That’s why in an article entitled: ‘What the Founders Really Thought About the Bible’, it pointed out things like this: “To the founders, (a republic) meant, at least, this: popular government, committed to the rule of law, in which government authority is derived from the consent of the governed and exercised through freely and fairly chosen representatives of the people. (And notice..) The founding generation looked to the Bible for insights into human nature, civic virtue, social order, political authority and other concepts essential to the establishment of a new political society.
A moral people respected social order, legitimate authority, oaths and contracts, private property, and the like. For these Americans, the Bible was the well-spring of religion, and (notice again) biblical morality was the source of this essential virtue. Therefore, many founders regarded the Bible as indispensable to a regime of republican self-government and liberty under law.
David Ramsay, a delegate to the Continental Congress and the first major historian of the American Revolution, expressed this idea succinctly in 1789: “Remember that there can be no political happiness without liberty; that there can be no liberty without morality; and that there can be no morality without religion.” Benjamin Rush similarly said in 1786: “Without [religion], there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
For these Americans, the Bible was the well-spring of religion, and biblical morality was the source of this essential virtue. Therefore, many founders regarded the Bible as indispensable to a regime of republican self-government and liberty under law. This is why John Adams, believing that “without national morality a republican government cannot be maintained” and that “the Bible contains . . . the most perfect morality, and the most refined policy, that ever was conceived upon earth.”1 Isn’t that refreshing to hear? And do remember that it is not only our privilege, but also our duty to vote into government leadership positions, only those who will promote the values and the morals and religion of the Lawbook of mankind, the Bible. And talk to others and encourage others to do the same.
And since I promised to share that remarkable passage from Isaiah about private property, here it is: Isa 65:21-22- “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of My people; My chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.” What a beautiful picture of people enjoying the blessings of private property and a free market system. And we’re not just talking about ancient Israel here, but the context reveals just when this home ownership and market economy is going on, and it may surprise you, because it’s all still happening at a time when something else also characterizes the conditions on Earth. Here it is: 25- “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox…They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain,” says the Lord.” NIV
What? Perfect peace among even the animal kingdom? We haven’t seen that yet, right? But we soon will, when King Jesus ushers in His Millennial Kingdom, right before He establishes His final Kingdom. But the point is, again, God wants to and He plans to grant large inheritance portions of His renovated Earth, and His final resurrected Earth to His children. But, like any fair and just Parent, He has also connected these future inheritance rewards to present faithfulness; to faithfulness in how His children live their lives now in their worship and service and obedience to their Savior and God.
And some of these ‘faithfulness connections’ are pointed out to us in this pathway of Discipleship, or the Beatitudes. In other words, these qualities that we are exploring are not only qualities for the blessed experience of present happiness, no, they are also some of the key conditions that form part of the basis that God is going to use in assigning His children their service rewards and their stewardship privileges in the coming Kingdom. So note that carefully, because there are no ‘do overs’ in living an obedient and faithful life to God. This is it! What we are doing now about obeying God will determine what we will be doing for God later in His Kingdom that is coming soon! That’s just how important your everyday thoughts, words, and deeds are. They have eternal consequences.
Which brings us back to one of these key qualities or virtues that God expects His children to focus on in order to develop it in our lives and to then make it a standard practice in how we relate to our God and how we treat others. “Blessed are the meek…” Now, an immediate clarification is in order, since this wonderful word has been much maligned over the years. Meekness has often wrongly been associated with what…right ‘weakness’. But that is a completely wrong connection. In the Bible, ‘meekness’ is actually associated with ‘gentleness’ which is properly understood as ‘strength under control’, and it is also one of the fruits of the Spirit. So ‘meekness’ and ‘gentleness’ are similar concepts, but they have nothing to do with ‘weakness’.
For an example: Take a look at this concept of ‘meekness’ in the natural world. Here is a picture of a meek and gentle parent and baby…and you tell me, is there anything ‘weak’ about this parent? (Show pic of Gorilla and baby) Do you want to mess with this meek and mild parent? Would you want to challenge this gentle parent? I don’t think so! So, no, meekness is not weakness. In fact, weakness is the opposite of meekness, because the essence of weakness is pride and selfishness. Self-pride is weakness on display. And that’s also why the proud and the selfish are so easily angered. The proud are easily offended and are easily threatened because they are so spiritually and morally weak, and are thus easily angered about even the smallest of seeming slights or seeming offenses. That is weakness. Whereas, meekness and gentleness are pure strength!
But here is the greatest reason that we each should seek to be meek in the Biblical sense. Matt 11:29- Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” KJV Jesus was meek and is ‘meek’ still today, and thus, that is all the reason we need to seek to be meek! If you want to be more and more like Jesus, you will have to become more and more meek and lowly! Other versions state ‘meek’ as ‘gentle’, and even ‘humble’.
So okay…well, Here is another picture of meekness in action, and again, do you see any weakness in this meek Man? (Show pic of Jesus overturning tables in temple) Matt 21:12-13- “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” NKJV Nobody was going to mess with Jesus here. Not even the temple guards stopped Him. This was a display of pure strength under control…this was meekness in action against sinfulness.
Remember: One of the greatest displays of strength is when you are fighting against sin. To win over sin is one of the greatest displays of true strength that there is, as well as the best victories in life…winning over sin. And on the contrary, losing to sin, giving in to sin, is always a sign of weakness, and that is real loss in life, and is losing in living. When you lose to sin, you lose in living. But again, and of course, this is where the Devil has once more completely deceived so many people. They think that going their own way and choosing their own path, doing their own thing, apart from God, is the way to gain; when it is the direct path to loss. They think that by thinking and acting like they are in charge of their life shows that they are independent and strong. How utterly foolish! That only shows that they are still in bondage to sin and to the devil; and it really shows just how spiritually and morally weak they actually are, besides, they are just further filling up their cup of sin against God. Totally foolish!
So again, to be Biblically meek is to be spiritually and morally strong. Those who seek to be more and more like Jesus will need to seek to be meek; to seek to be gentle; to seek to be humble before their God and before others. And the more we seek this genuine strength, then, as Jesus revealed, the more we will experience genuine happiness. Because, think about it, to be happy in Jesus is to be more like Jesus… “for I am meek and lowly of heart”…Jesus said.
Now, it is also helpful to remember that there is a twofold meekness going on here. There is both a meekness toward God and a meekness toward others. And, course, the meekness toward God means submission to God’s will. What a wonderful place to reach in your life when you find yourself no longer ‘kicking against the goads’, as Jesus once said to Paul. Remember that? Jesus used this illustration of the sharpened rod that was used to turn back stubborn animals that were trying to go their own way. When they pushed back against the goad, they were only hurting themselves.
What a picture of human nature. We have so often wanted to go our own way, or to get our own way, and then come to find out or to experience that this imagined happiness we thought we would achieve by doing so had really only brought harm to ourselves instead. It’s like the Proverb that says, “If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.” Prov 15:32 NLT Watching people rejecting discipline, neglecting God’s word, resisting God’s will is the same as watching people bringing harm to themselves…they are kicking against the goads. They are getting their own way, but are, in reality, they are actually just harming themselves, and doing more harm the more they go their own way. But here’s the deception, because still they somehow imagine that they are happy, because they are getting their own way. But remember: One of the worst things you can get in life is to get your own way, if it is not also God’s way. It’s like in the old Westerns, when they were warned about a waterhole being poisoned, but the stubborn guy insists on drinking it anyway…he gets his own way all right, but with soon regrets.
And of course then, the other direction of meekness is toward others. The Apostle Paul described what this virtue looks like in action. Phil 2:3-8- “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” NASU
So, toward God and others? Meekness…gentleness…humbleness…obedience. And then the results from God to you for doing that? Strength…victory…rewards…happiness. These are all related, and they are all essential parts of our path of following Jesus. Simply amazing…thank you Lord for showing us how to be more like You and how to be happy in You…to be happy in Jesus!
- Justine Taylor, What America’s Founders Really Thought About the Bible, January 10, 2017, thegospelcoalition.org