Jesus said, in the well-known Matthew 5:5 passage, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” James punctuates this promise practically when he counseled us to walk this out with wisdom:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” (Jas. 3:13)
As a general rule, I love the leadership of Jesus and really believe that His ways are “just and true” (Rev. 15:3). I’m sold at a deep level that the way of weakness - fasting and prayer, giving and forgiving, serving and loving with abandonment to my own self-indulgent, self-absorbed ways - is the wisest and best way for a man to live out his days. I’m not even thinking in terms of gritting my teeth and earning a reward for my obedience - I’m thinking in terms of “wisdom will be justified by her children” (Matt. 11:19). In other words, in the here and now, I believe that the story of my life will testify to the superior nature of God’s divine order and wisdom.
It doesn’t mean that it’s always enjoyable to live out. It doesn’t mean, by a long shot, that I like it. In fact, the way of meekness has me slightly miserable right now. Voluntary weakness is great to preach on but painful at times to live, mostly when I’m confronted with the reality of my heart and my unwillingness to fully embrace and delight in (with a free and joyful heart) God’s way forward for me.
I find myself in the most frustrating of places in life. I’ve been around the block enough to know that my ways are more painful in the end than God’s. I’ve got just enough life experience know the consequences of my foolishness and pride as I fight the tide of the Holy Spirit to try just one more time to do it “my way”. I’m left staring at the bankrupt and barren fruit that comes from my best efforts apart from Him to establish my sensibilities, plans, and opinions. Pondering my failures, I am left with a firm resolve to really lay hold of God’s ways and means to establish things of significance.
Of course, now that I’ve left one road, I’m staring into the vast lengths of His road forward and seeing clearly where segments of it lead. I can’t see the whole journey, of course. But I can see enough to know that His way is better but not easy nor likeable yet. At some dark recess of my soul I still believe that my way, while unproductive, will still satisfy and bolster me along the way. In other words, to ground this a little, when something rubs me the wrong way I inevitably have two choices:
1. Think through ways to immediately come to a satisfying resolution that usually involves the direct application of my gifts, strengths, and talents. In other words, talk it through until the person sees it my way…and therefore conceding victory to me. I get my way, order is restored, and my way of life continues. Sometimes this works, yet many times it doesn’t. For some reason, the other folks around me aren’t convinced that my ways are superior.
So, on the front end, I may end up partially satisfied (or at least, satiated) half the time. Long term, however, I’m more tired and worn out trying to enforce my will all over the place to make life work better for me. Then, at some point, the Holy Spirit confronts me yet again about my control spirit and I have to repent with deeper pain than the initial frustration that led me to begin my vain quest in the first place. So really there was only one option - option two.
2. I wait. I hold my tongue. I don’t talk about it with anyone. I let what I perceive to be clear injustice prevail for a season (of course, I would never admit to myself on the front end that in my limitations I only know a small percent of the full story; I’ve never let this stop me before. Of course, when I realize that I’m dealing with presumption and arrogance I’m forced to pause a bit. But only for a bit.). I pray. I pray some more. I plead with God to vindicate me and prove me right. God tells me it’s not about me, or my little cause. I don’t believe Him. I wait some more. I pray. I fast a little. I don’t react, or apply my strength to force my sensibility into the equation. If asked to speak, I say a little when I really want to dazzle everyone with how awesome my solution is.
I radically commit to see God’s way prevail in the waiting. I have almost no short-term satisfaction that I am doing the right thing. I’m mostly annoyed and not sure things are going to work out right. I’m restless and frustrated that my way hasn’t been implemented yet, so I go back to the place of prayer to register a complaint. The problem I find when I get there is that I’m barren, so that prayer on this occasion is boring and frustrating. At this point, all I want to do is get up and solve my problem. Still, I wait. I hold my tongue. I wait for the right door to open, the right solution to become clear in my thinking by the grace of God. Of course, now I can’t get any work done to get my mind off of my problem because my heart is a mess.
Then it strikes me. I hate meekness. I’m not even ambivalent or lukewarm about this point. My heart is a torrent of activity with little rest or peace - my soul is a storm of frustration - because I don’t like the weakness of waiting, the weakness of dependant trust in the leadership of Jesus, the brokenness of dependency, and the simplicity of foolish silence that seems to be costing me much in the short-term. And it is. That’s the bigger frustration - it actually, truly is costing me something in the short-term to wait for God to break through and have His way in these types of situations.
It also dawns on me that the price I pay in faith is one that God will delight in and honor forever. It strikes me that, in the journey to embrace meekness, God delights in the fight while I am struggling in my little blue chair. I want to hold fast. I want to wait on Him to lead me and establish the wisdom of meekness in my heart, so that I can walk and work in the meekness of wisdom. Hope fills my heart again, and I get a burst of courage from the Holy Spirit to trust Him once more and walk this out His way. The epiphany that waiting for God to give me wisdom, that I might establish and stay loyal to His will (not mine) in the process brings me to the realization yet again that in something like this, a drama far bigger than me, it wasn’t about me at all. In repenting and asking for grace yet again, my heart finds rest in the waiting. It’s then that He whispers to me the most delightful paradox in regards to my dilemma:
“It was all about you.”
In other words, I magnified the issue and the difficulty in my zeal for justice. Justice, of course, was defined by “my sensibilities and opinions established in my world”. In making the issue about the issue, I actually minimized the true thing that God was after all along: agreement in my heart with Him and His wisdom and leadership.
The truth is, I hate meekness because I love my own opinion and delight in my own abilities as a means of making my world work. He is committed to me to bring about an internal shift that causes me to despise my own way and wisdom to embrace something higher, something transcendent. James continued in his discourse to walk me in a stunning way through the process of what we (in a gross oversimplification) call “dying to self”. Of course, since we never define the parts of “self” that need to go we never actually get around to dying to anything - but that’s another story. Back to James:
“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
James goes right for the heart, and it hits me hard. In the journey to embrace meekness, this practical outworking is a must if I intend to walk as one who makes peace. I’ll talk about the reality of the “peacemaker” at another time, but for now I know this - I want to walk in the fullness of what Jesus had in mind when He talked about it. Which means that my way forward is to embrace pure wisdom that invites me to embrace a posture that is peaceable, gentle, humble, and tenderhearted - especially towards those who have a tendency to make my life complicated. This is my way forward, and it’s the best way.
I’m confident that I’ll like it more eventually.
12 comments February 5th, 2007