SPIRITUAL CHARACTERISTIC NUMBER THREE –“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Meekness is often regarded as similar to being poor in spirit; however, it is quite different. Meekness is more difficult and more humbling than the previous two. It is also more searching, because it takes us from within ourselves to our relationship with others. I can evaluate, even condemn, myself, but when others do it, I tend to be resentful. Meekness is measured by how we respond when others put the spotlight on us.
Jesus took on the form of a servant and submitted to the will of His Father. He did not try to use the political systems of His day to accomplish God’s mission. Instead He sacrificed Himself, giving His all in meekness to His Father’s will. That is how meekness works.
One of the greatest leaders of all time was Moses. In Numbers 12:3 he is described as a meek man. He had been groomed and trained to be a leader in Egypt. Yet God chose to strip Moses of his self-power, position and abilities. His mission could only be accomplished through the character and power of God.
In his relationship with King Saul, David did not assert himself, though he could have on several occasions. As this Christian characteristic of meekness develops it causes us not to demand anything for ourselves in our relationships with others. When people scorn us or lie about us, we don’t have to fight back and defend ourselves. It is not important that we assert our rights, position in life or privileges in relationship to others. No longer do we have to go on the defensive for the purpose of needing to be right. Our self-life has been crucified. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me (see Galatians 2:20).
This does not mean that we are to be flabby, lacking in firmness, vigor, weak in personality, always exhibiting a compromising spirit. That is not how Jesus or Paul lived. They knew their mission and set their face as a flint to accomplish it; not in their own strength but through the power of God.
SPIRITUAL CHARACTERISTIC NUMBER FOUR
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”(Matthew 5:6)
As we grow spiritually in the Lord, He must do away with our old nature as He develops in us a new one with these Christ-like characteristics. As the first three are formed in us, we are gradually emptied of our old sinful nature. Only then will we desire to be filled with God’s righteousness, and the Lord will develop that desire into a hunger and thirst.
Righteousness is simply right living before God. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold. … In keeping them there is much reward” (Psalm 19:7-11)
Note that Jesus did not say to hunger and thirst after happiness or blessings. These come as a result of seeking righteousness. To hunger and thirst is to have the consciousness of a deep and desperate need, to the point that we experience pain in our soul. This brings suffering and agony, because it is an all-out drive to achieve the desired goal. It is somewhat like being away from home and homesick, or the inner drive people have to be a sports champion.
Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is the defining spiritual trait of our Christianity. If we truly desire righteousness, God’s Spirit will transform us into His image. We cannot obtain it by our own efforts. Attempting to do so will only lead to pride, which has been the downfall of many throughout the history of Christianity.
Jesus promised that if we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be filled. This comes through the anointing power of the Holy Spirit. If one is emptied of a self-seeking nature and filled with God’s nature, the next three characteristics given by Jesus—merciful, pure in heart and peacemaker—will flow naturally as we come down the mountain to minister for His Kingdom rather than for selfish reasons.
SPIRITUAL CHARACTERISTIC NUMBER FIVE
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7)
As these characteristics on the other side of the mountain become a natural part of our being, we start to express the true character of God. Mercy is a sense of pity plus an effort to relieve suffering. It is not pity alone; it includes action. Consider the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Others may have pitied the injured man, but they did nothing. They were not demonstrating mercy. Mercy allowed Jesus to see the miserable consequences of sin. It is also what drove Him to relieve the suffering sin causes both in this life and the life after death.
The characteristic of mercy develops a sacrificial love that inspires a person to do all he or she can to save another from the fiery pits of Hell.
We can be thankful we have a merciful God. He knows the consequences of sin. “For God so loved the world (mankind) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him [accepts Him as Savior] shall not perish [spend eternity in Hell] but have eternal life [spend eternity in Heaven]. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
Mercy differentiates between the sinner and sin. God hates sin, but loves the sinner. Mercy causes us to see people as creatures to be pitied—slaves to a sinful nature—who are trapped in Satan’s world system and suffering the awful consequences of sin. Even while He was on the cross, mercy moved Jesus to pray for His oppressors, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
WATCH FOR PART 3 of “Spiritual Characteristics of the Kingdom of God” on June 21st, 2010.Tags: Christ-like characteristics, meekness, righteousness, spiritual characteristics