Sun, Oct 20, 2019

Blessed are the Gentle

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Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the Meek
WCC 10-20-19


It’s been said that we live in a culture of outrage. A study was released a few weeks ago about politics and our emotional health. According to the study: 38% of Americans are stressed out because of politics. 26% have become depressed because of it. 18% have actually lost sleep because of it. 30% they have lost their temper because of politics. 27% say politics has led them to hate some kinds of people. Our culture of outrage is leading people to tremendous stress & anger, and that’s not good!

According to a different study…Angry people die sooner. They don’t sleep as well. They get headaches. More likely to have depression. More likely to have lung disease and heart disease. Anger causes us digestive problems. And anger even leaves permanent wrinkles on our face!

So, a lifestyle of anger is terrible for us and yet we’ve made anger into a virtue and so we’re: Angry at Trump or Pelosi. Angry at CNN or Fox News. We’re angry at the climate deniers and we’re angry at the climate hoaxers. These days, everyone is angry at everyone!

But should Christians be caught up in this culture of outrage? It’s one thing to pursue justice or the widow and orphan, but should the state of our country, or the state of our company, or community, or club so grip our hearts that we get angry over them? I’ve been to rally’s where so-called Christians were so angry they were spitting into the microphone. Is that the way it should be? We’ll see in today’s passage the Lord has an entirely different path for His people.

If you have a copy of God’s Word, please open it to Matthew Chapter 5. This morning, we’re continuing our study in the Sermon on the Mount. We’re picking up where we left off last week and moving into the 3rd of the “Beatitudes.”

If you’ve been with us so far, you’ll remember that Jesus is sitting on top of a hill in front of a crowd of people who are wondering if He is the prophesied Messiah King. Over the next three chapters, Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount defines the way of kingdom living. It describes what it looks like to live as Kingdom people.

Jesus starts His sermon with a series of poetical statements that we call the “Beatitudes”. These opening statements contain very few words, but they are very dense with meaning. The term “Beatitude” is Latin for “blessing”. Jesus begins each verse saying “Blessed are…” The word “blessed” is an adjective. It’s the Greek word “Makarios” which is the idea of being in a happy condition. And each beatitude gives a new blessing for each condition.

These “beatitudes” follow a specific formula: Jesus says, “Blessed are…” Then He describes this conduct of the blessing, and then He gives the blessing it receives.

Now, these “Beatitudes” aren’t given as the conditions we must meet to receive these blessings. They are given as the present tense, spiritual realities of His kingdom people. We see this in the verb tenses. The first beatitude says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” They have the poverty of spirit right now and the kingdom right now! The “poor in spirit” are the people who recognize their spiritual poverty before a righteous and holy God… and that they have nothing to offer God but only can ask for His mercy. They are blessed because they are the ones who receive Christ’s kingdom. “Those who mourn” (in verse 4) were those who saw their own sin and the sin & rebellion of their fellow countrymen and mourned the state they were in. They recognized that their situation was the just judgement of God. And their blessing was that they would be comforted because they were forgiven by God and He will bring into His kingdom where there is no sin and no rebellion and no curse.

So, there’s a progression with these Beatitudes. Our entrance into the kingdom begins with a humble, spiritual poverty. Our comfort within the kingdom comes from being grieved by our sin and being brought into a new kingdom without sin. And this morning, we’re going to the 3rd Beatitude and we’ll see that our fellowship in this kingdom is one of abiding humility and gentleness that does not freak out over every wrong that’s ever been done to us!

And that ties into our introductory comments because our world says the exact opposite! Our world says “Demand your rights! Protest the wrong! Raise your fist and rage against the machine!” And yet, Jesus tells us in verse 5 that kingdom living is the exact opposite. So, let’s look at verse 5 and start with our first point, which is some critical background data…

Point #1 Background

Jesus says in verse 5: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Like the first two beatitudes, this third beatitude must have been deeply confusing to this crowd. Jesus has already given two paradoxes… “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit and blessed are those who mourn their sin.” Nobody would normally say that people who are “poor in spirit” and who “mourn” are “happy!” It would seem the exact opposite! But these people are “blessed” because they actually receive God’s assistance and grace and spiritual fellowship with Him. Jesus continues in verse 5, saying: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” These people are listening to Jesus, wondering if He is the promised King; and His message is that the only people who will inherit His kingdom are the “gentle”.

Put yourself in their shoes to see just how counter-intuitive this is. There were many people who were talking about the coming Messiah and being ready for His kingdom… You could divide them into six main groups. Each group probably thought they were the ones who would be blessed by the Messiah.

For instance, one of the major groups within Judaism were the “Essenes”. The Essenes took devotion to an extreme. They lived off on their own, and had harsh, isolationist rules. We have a lot of their writings, but they were so detached from the Jewish society that they’re not even mentioned in the New Testament. For all we know, Jesus and His riff-raff followers weren’t ascetic enough for their standards.

On the opposite side of the religious landscape were the “Sadducees”. The Sadducees were the theological liberals. They approached the Bible like a salad bar and “picked over” what they would follow and what they would ignore. They made political compromises for political expediency. They made theological compromises for social conformity. Sometimes we say the Sadducees were “sad, you see” because they denied the afterlife. Their focus was on the here and now and they often joined with the Romans.

In between Sadducees and Essenes were the “Pharisees”. The Pharisees were not liberals like the Sadducees, but they were not devout like the Essenes. They were just plain old religious. They used rules and traditions to manufacture a sense of devotion to the Lord; and yet, they stood in direct opposition to Jesus.

Another group were the “Zealots”. These guys just wanted to overthrow Rome. They were constantly looking for a way to rid these Roman occupiers and from the Promised Land.

Another group were the followers of John the Baptist. These were probably the closest to being ready for Christ’s kingdom. Yet even some of them still weren’t putting together the spiritual pieces and we know from other parts of the New Testament that it took decades for some of them to come to Christ.

Finally, the last group was the “Everything Else” group. That’s a group I’m just making up to catch anyone who didn’t fit into these other groups. The “Everything Else” group just wanted to live their lives and get through another day. They weren’t really asking about how to know God, or how to be ready for the Messiah-King because they had fields to plow and wood to cut and food to cook.

So, you had these groups all throughout Israel, but none of them represented the coming kingdom (except, maybe the followers of John the Baptist). These other groups were looking for a Savior of the here and now.  The Sadducees were looking for the Messiah to bless their politics. The Pharisees were looking for the Messiah to bless their prestige. The Essenes were looking for the Messiah to bless their piety. The Zealots were looking for the Messiah to bless their plots of revolution. And the average Joe who wasn’t looking for much of anything.

People figured the Messiah would join with one of these groups and set up His kingdom and yet, He sweeps them all aside when He says, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” The messianic kingdom won’t come about through politics. It won’t come about through religion. It won’t come about through separation. It won’t come about through violence. It won’t come about through indifference. Christ’s Kingdom comes about as a work of His Spirit to grant people the spiritual poverty to see their sin and mourn over it and enter into fellowship with Him and be changed, in the very core of their being, to align with Christ’s kingdom Law even right now. Christ gives these people the promise that the spiritual kingdom they have now (in verse 3), will one day be a physical kingdom on Earth in Verse 5!

And so, the blessing (in verse 5) is that we will one day enter Christ’s physical kingdom which is still to come. Jesus won’t ever give us anything that is bad and the “earth” He mentions in verse 5 is the redeemed “New Earth” that is prophesied throughout the New Testament.

The term “Earth” had tremendous theological significance in Matthew’s Gospel. For instance, we know from Matthew 5:18 and Matthew 24:35 that the “heavens and earth” will pass away. In Matthew 6:19, Jesus tells us to not store up our treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy. Likewise, in Matthew 10:34, Jesus explains that He did not come to bring peace to this earth. And so, although the wicked have temporary power now and although God’s people currently are denied the land because of God’s judgment; Christ’s rule and authority will reign in a New Heaven and upon a New Earth.

This promise would have been incredibly encouraging to these people who were probably so poor they couldn’t own land. Even if they did, their land was still under Roman rule, and it was still cursed. But there is coming a day when each of them will have land that is ruled by Christ, and it will be an inheritance that no one can take from them. It will be a permanent possession. And so, this “blessing” in verse 5, is an inheritance of the earth.

This “promise of the earth” is critical to our understanding of the “gentleness” that Jesus calls us to. I noticed an interesting trend as I was reading commentaries on this verse. I have something like 15 or 20 commentaries on Matthew and I was surprised that most didn’t have a lot to say about the “Earth” that Jesus is speaking about here. Most of them just focused on the word “gentle” and what is means and what it doesn’t mean;  and they didn’t focus much on Christ’s prophecy.

The older commentaries were the reverse. I’ve got an ancient commentary from a guy named Chrysostom (who was from the 4th Century nearly 1700 years ago). Chrysostom’s full focus was on the coming new earth. He probably just assumed everyone knows what “Gentle” means and figured what we really need to know is that there is coming a day when we will walk upon holy land, ruled by the Messiah King, and it will be perfect and pure, and it will be ours.

I think Chrysostom is capturing the essence of Jesus’s point: Those who know they have an eternal inheritance in Christ’s kingdom and those who cherish that inheritance will loosen their grip on this world. They know that this world is going to burn, and everything in it, and so, we don’t need to “fight for our rights”. Instead, we need to focus on the coming kingdom and living out who we are in Christ. And when our focus is on that kingdom and “loving” people into that Kingdom, we’re not going to be freaking out with what’s going on this world and we’ll have a serene “gentleness” that puts our hope in God and not in anything of this Earth.

Jesus’ point will become clearer when we look at what the word “Gentle” really means. So, let’s go on to our second point and define the “gentleness” that Jesus is talking about…

Point #2 Defining “Praéis”

Now, for us to understand “Gentleness” we need to learn a new Greek vocabulary word. The Greek word that the NAS translates as “Gentle” is a complex word that does not have an English equivalent.

How many of our translations say “Blessed are the ones who are self-controlled in heart, to be gracious and magnanimous in the face of opposition because their focus is not here-and-now, but on the coming kingdom?” No one? We’ve got to get better translations! The Amplified Version simply says, “Blessed are the ‘meek, the mild, patient, long-suffering.” The NAS translates this as “Gentle” The ESV and NIV translate it as “meek” The NLT translates it as “humble.” The problem is that not only does “gentle” and “meek” and “humble” not capture the full meaning of the word, they can actually lead us astray.

So, here’s our Greek lesson for the day…The word for “gentle” here is the Greek adjective “praéis”. I’m going to say “praéis” a lot this morning so we need to be comfortable hearing it. If you’re spelling “praéis” it’s spelled p-r-a-u-s (but the “u” is pronounced “ei” – “praéis”).

In the days of Ancient Greek, even before the time of the New Testament the Greek, the word “praéis” was used by philosophers to describe a quality that is very different from our basic idea of “gentle” or “meek”. For instance, Aristotle used “praéis” to describe the midway point between stubborn anger and being so weak that you couldn’t be angry. So, for Aristotle, “praéis” was about having control over our angers and our fears and giving an even-handed, measured response.

“Praéis” was also used of a person who had the right to seek vengeance but instead demonstrated kindness. Plato used it to describe someone who was humane and gracious with those who are condemned. The Greek poet named Pindar used it to speak of a king who was mild and kind to his citizens. So, even in ancient Greek, the word “praéis” meant much more than gentle, meek or humble.

By the New Testament times, this word had an even richer meaning. By the time of the New Testament the word “praéis” spoke of inward orientation of submission towards God. The “praéis” person recognized that God is their master and ruler and they trusted His goodness and kindness. Therefore, they left all personal vengeance and vendettas to Him and took none for themselves.

Going back to Chrysostom for a moment…You can see why he was so focused on the “inheritance.” There’s no need for personal vengeance if you are trusting God and looking forward to a divine inheritance from Him.

One of my Greek dictionaries defines “praéis” this way: “…it is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the expressions of it are primarily toward God… It is that attitude of spirit [that accepts] God’s dealings with us as good and does not dispute or resist…” That dictionary goes on to define this as “balance born in strength of character.”

So, “praéis” is self-controlled balance in the face of adversity. It describes a person who might be justified in being hostile and angry but instead is gracious, gentle and kind. A king could be “praéis” towards recalcitrant subjects. A father could be “praéis” when giving discipline to a child. A slave could be “praéis” when receiving instruction from a harsh master. And so, the person who has “praéis” has a serenity that is not easily disturbed, a disposition that is not easily provoked, and a posture towards injustice that does not fight for its own rights.

Not only does Jesus describe His citizens with this term “praéis,” the New Testament describes Jesus with this term too! Listen to these verses about Jesus: Mathew 21:5 says, “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY…” (The Greek word “gentle” there is “praéis.”) Paul described Jesus with “praéis” in 2 Corinthians 10:1 saying, "Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the “praéis” and gentleness of Christ…"

Not only is Jesus “praéis,” but so is the Holy Spirit! Galatians 5 says the fruit of the Spirit includes “praéis” and when He rules us, we demonstrate His communicable attributes.

And so, tying this back to Jesus’ promise to us in verse 5: The king—who is “praéis”— will rule a kingdom of “praéis” people who are “praéis” because the “praéis” Spirit of God dwells within them and rules their heart.

So, that’s what “praéis” means. And when Jesus says, “Blessed are the gentle,” He’s describing people who have an emotional calm and balance that comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit, who rules our hearts and turns our affections from this world, to His coming Kingdom so that we’re not seeking to correct every injustice we receive, but instead we respond with grace and self-control and moderation because our focus and our goal is the Kingdom to Come.

Now, that’s all good stuff but so far it’s mostly theoretical. Let’s move on to our next point and talk about that this “praéis” looks like.

Point #3 Picturing “Praéis”

For starters: The “praéis” person is a humble person. In many ways “praéis” is the opposite of pride. A prideful person isn’t just arrogant they’re self-absorbed. All they think about is themselves. They are the focus of their life. They are the reason they do whatever they do! Not only that a prideful person makes themselves their own filter for what they think and believe. They don’t really listen to anyone else because they trust themselves more than anyone. And so, they’re not really teachable. They’re stubborn. Driven by self and operating for self.

Not so with the humble person. In the Greek version of the Old Testament, the book of Numbers uses this word to describe Moses. In Numbers 12:3 it says, “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” Moses was bold and courageous and faithful… but he was also “praéis” and throughout Moses’ leadership, you see him constantly acting for the Lord’s glory and constantly pointing the people back to the Lord. That’s praéis; that’s humility. Jesus’ kingdom is not filled with people who are always pointing the glory back to themselves. It’s filled with people who are constantly pointing the glory to Christ!

A “praéis” person is also teachable. James 1:21 uses the same root word to describe the manner in which we receive the Word of God. James 1:21 says, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (That word “humility” is related to the root word for “praéis”). When you think about what goes into hearing God’s Word, it’s a constant assault on our natural inclinations. When you sit under God’s Word, and listen to what God says, you quickly find out that God is looking for a total spiritual transformation in His people. He’s not just looking for us to have a different way of spending Sunday mornings, He’s looking look for us to die to our old life and our old self and live His new life in us! That’s not easy for us to hear and it requires a “praéis” person who is teachable and willing to say, “You know what? I’ll let go. I’ll give in. I’ll do what He says.”

When you think about this situation on this hillside in Galilee, these hearers had to be extremely “teachable” because the things that Jesus is about to say was revolutionary. They were going to have to abandon their views of what spirituality looks like. They were going to have to abandon their views of what the coming King and His kingdom looks like. They were going to have to abandon their expectations of what the Messiah looked like. They were going to have to abandon their allegiance to those factions that were not going to usher in the kingdom! They were going to have to recognize that their sophisticated religious systems were actually built on a heap of manmade falsehoods that did not originate with God Himself. And it takes a humble teachable “praéis” person to accept what Jesus is saying.

Therefore, the “praéis” person isn’t easily offended. Since the “praéis” person is not puffed up with themselves, they’re not easily offended. In fact, the adverb was often used of a quiet and friendly demeanor. The “praéis” person is friendly because they don’t have to be first. They don’t have to be recognized. They don’t require people to walk on eggshells around them. They’re not bitter. They’re not easily offended. When things are said the wrong way, the “praéis” person isn’t so sensitive that they assume the worst and see a dark intent behind every word. The “praéis” king does not assume the worst in his subjects, and the “praéis” slave does not assume the worst in his master. Instead, they are harmonious—even in the face of adversity. The husband who’s constantly offended at everything his wife says is not “praéis,” nor is a wife who’s offended at everything her husband says. The child who can’t take any correction is not being “praéis,” neither is the parent who needs to run down every infraction. The employee who talks about his boss behind his back is not “praéis,” nor is the boss who places harsh demands on his staff. “Praéis” people have a graciousness because their goal is to advance the Christ’s kingdom not their own. And often, a person is not “praéis” because they are trying to advance a kingdom of this world.

Now, if it sounds like the “praéis” person is weak… that’s not the case.

This is a position of strength that comes from total reliance upon the Lord. Jesus lived in this condition of being “praéis” without ever being weak. Isaiah 42:3 says “A bruised reed He did not break.” Isaiah 53 says “Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” And yet, our “praéis” king did not destroy those who beat Him. He did not slaughter those who demanded His death. He did not condemn those who nailed Him to the cross. He trusted His heavenly Father and He calls us to trust Him too.

So, hopefully you can see that this idea of “gentleness” and “meekness” (and “praéis”) is a central to the Christian life… In Galatians 5:23 it’s listed as one of the components of the fruit of the Spirit which is: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (praéis) and self-control.” In Ephesians 4:2, we are to have humility, and “praéis” and patience and tolerance for one another. In 2 Timothy 2:25, we are to show “praéis” when we correct someone. And in James 3:13, the wise person shows his wisdom by his “praéis.” So, the “praéis” person is humble, and teachable and not easily offended. They don’t demand their rights. They don’t force their will. In the face of adversity, they demonstrate grace and confidence and poise…

So, now that we understand what “praéis” means and what it looks like let’s talk about how to become a person who is characterized by “praéis”. Let’s go on to our Fourth Point…

Point #4 Becoming “praéis”

If you were to survey non-Christians about how Christians act, and if you gave them two lists of character traits and they had to choose one that “best” describes Christians…if you asked: “Are Christians A: Patient, Kind, forgiving and gracious” Or, “B: Judgmental, Hypocritical, unloving and harsh.” Many people would say that Christians are “B: Judgmental, hypocritical, unloving and harsh.” And this bad-rap comes from a lot of bad-actors who claim to be Christian. I mentioned at the beginning that I was once at a rally where several so-called Christian speakers were so angry they were spitting into their microphones. I know of a Christians news source that often posts stories with headlines that are so harsh, they’re hateful.

Why is that? If Christians are supposed to be “praéis,” why isn’t everyone that way?

I can think of a few reasons: First, sometimes we think we know better than God. We have our hearts set on something, even selling newspapers, and we’re not willing to submit to God’s ways of doing things.

Maybe the very thing we want is sinful or immoral. It might be an activity, or a form of entertainment, or even a way of handling a situation and we know that we’re not acting above board. We know it's not something God would want, but that thing is so important to us that we'll do whatever we have to do to get it.

Perhaps it just comes down to a simple doubt in God. We’re not sure if God is really going to show up, and we’re not sure if He really is going to come to our help. And so, we’ve got to take matters into our own hands.

Maybe we think that we don’t deserve God’s help. We know we are sinful, and not righteous, and we know we don’t deserve God’s grace and so we don’t look for it. We feel like disowned children who have done too much to go back to God now, so we don’t.

But no matter what’s keeping us from “praéis” we need to surrender all of that at the cross. Our kingdom citizenship begins with the cross where we come to Him and recognize our poverty of spirit. And we recognize that we have not (and cannot) reach God’s standards. That our righteousness is insufficient before God. That we need His forgiveness. And we need His redemption. And we need His grace to live the Christian life. And when we come to God through the cross, He cleanses us of our sin and gives us His Spirit and He takes His rightful place upon the throne of our soul and from that throne, He begins to rule us. So, the first step of “praéis” begins at the cross.

Another key component of “praéis” is to submit to God. “Praéis” is a trusting, willing, surrender to God. I try not to make animal analogies, but this one seems pretty helpful. A couple of weeks ago, Corinne made some homemade cinnamon rolls. They were fantastic. And the next day, I came home and saw the pan that they were in, on the floor. I picked it up and called out “Why is the cinnamon roll pan on the floor?” And suddenly, our dog Argo flops over, rolls on his back, and looks very guilty. I asked him, “Did you do this?” And he just looked away. So, it was clear that he somehow got into them and knew it was wrong. But when you look at his response it wasn’t angry defiance; it was submissive apology. He was on his back, fully trusting that I would be good to him in my discipline. That’s what we need to develop towards the Lord: a love for Him and a trust in Him that even when He calls us out for sinning, it’s not to hurt us or condemn us but to restore us back to fellowship with Him.

Centuries before Jesus gave this Sermon on the Mount, and way back before the Babylonian exile, Jeremiah told the Jews to do just this… to recognize that their disobedience brought on the Babylonian exile, but rather than fight God’s discipline, they should submit to it and actually seek to flourish as His people in their exile. And so, the Lord told the Jews in Jeremiah 29 to build houses, plant gardens, and have families. He even says, ‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” They were about to enter God’s judgment and He’s calling them to submit to it and not fight against their situation, but recognize that God was powerful enough to bring good, even out of that. That’s “praéis.”

It’s Submission to God knowing that our fate and our future are in His hands. We’re not fighting for ourselves, or our own rights, or our own recognition, we’re leaving everything to God. Thus, for us, Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” So, having “praéis” is recognizing that God’s judgments are just and valid. We don’t fight against God, even if we don’t like what’s going on—we simply trust Him and submit.

Along those lines, one of the key elements of “praéis” is just being wise. James 3:13 says, "Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness (praéis) of wisdom." Wisdom means knowing how to accomplish something and the “praéis” person has the wisdom to know how to glorify God with their gracious, even-handed disposition.

This “wisdom” includes being honest with yourself. When you’re not acting humble—when you fly off the handle at some offense—when your tone rises and your volume increases—stop and ask yourself: “Whose kingdom am I looking for right now?” If it’s not for Christ’s eternal kingdom it’s not worth getting up in arms. And if it is for Christ’s kingdom—and maybe you’re running late to church and getting frustrated—seek God’s grace to give you “praéis” in that moment to speak with gentleness and kindness even though you’re frustrated.

Being wise also means being honest with yourself. One of the reasons why the Jews of Jesus’ day rejected Him is that they refused to be honest with themselves. Over and over, the Lord was calling out their fake worship and fake religion but the people couldn’t see it, and so they didn’t submit to God. But the fact is, all of us are sinners before a Holy God. Not only have we sinned, we still sin even now. Romans 14:23 says that whatever is not of faith is sin and any time we take even a step forward without faith, we’re entering a condition of sin. And yet, the “praéis” person recognizes their deficiency. They recognize the constant struggle they have with worldliness and the flesh. They see their sinfulness against God’s holiness. And they want His transformation and reformation to bring about His holy change in their life. They would rather have His present work of sanctification, even if that means giving up what they love, than have His distant indifference. And so, like when David saw the just judgment of God on his life, and threw himself at the mercy of God. The “praéis” trusts Him and lets His will be done and not fight against the hand of God.

We’ve said a couple of times already that the reason a person can be “praéis” is because their hope and their focus is on Christ’s eternal kingdom and not any kingdom of today. This kind of living takes a pure and undivided faith. And yet, there are all kinds of distractions in this world that seek to draw our focus away from eternity. Things like great vacations. And great homes. And having a great childhood. And these things can tempt our focus to build a kingdom here and now.

But Christ is calling us to step out in faith and embrace His promises and live our lives in light of them. If we have an inheritance in eternity, what are we building here and now? If our focus is on Christ’s kingdom, why get caught up in the kingdoms of this earth? If He is our Lord and master and if our names are written in the book of life, what is there to fear in this world? If we truly believe this, we won’t fight for things on this earth.

Down in Matthew 5:40 (just a handful of verses from where we’re at this morning), Jesus is going to say that if someone wants our shirt, we should give them our coat also. Why? Because we don’t need it. Where we’re going, we won’t need the things of this world.

Finally, the heart of this “praéis” is striving for God’s glory. Only gentleness and meekness put the glory on God (where it belongs). If we are self-assertive and ambitious and seeking our own and defending ourselves, then anything we accomplish gives glory to “us”. And yet, meekness and humility and gentleness brings glory to God because anything that happens is the result of His work and not our own.


So, folks, let’s be kingdom people who are living in light of the coming kingdom where our real inheritance lies. The purpose of this beatitude is to live in light of Christ’s coming kingdom and when we do, we will be “praéis.” Not prideful. Not easily offended. Not weak. But gentle, and humble, and gracious, and teachable, and recognizing that every wrong we face will be justly dealt with in eternity.

That’s our focus. That’s where our treasure lies. And so, when politics go haywire, we don’t lose our cool. When things we’re coaching our kid’s soccer and parents don’t treat us well…we let it go because we’re “praéis,” and life is not about us but our Lord and His glory.

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