Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Beauty of Jesus

Recently I woke up with this song on my mind. I learned it as a child, and found myself singing it one morning.

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All his wonderful passion and purity.
O, thou Spirit divine
all my nature refine,
till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

My husband has been preaching through Christ's sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. Many people, including me, have often wondered what the difference is between verse three and five, since they seem so similar.
3 ¶ Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

First of all, my husband pointed out that the "Beatitudes" are not a series of mystical feelings and attitudes which offend no one. Rather, they are strong Biblical actions which emanate from the Christian heart. They are practical applications of the laws of Christianity, and cannot be separated from one another nor from everyday life. They create astounding hostility from the wicked, as well as from some professed Christians. When consistently followed, they led to persecution and even death, as happened to the prophets of old, to Christ and to all of the apostles except John. Christ even warned that his followers (which include present Christians) will also be persecuted

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The difference between "poor in spirit" and "meek" is what struck me most this week.

Christ started his sermon right at the root of the blessings of God with poverty of spirit, or humility before God for salvation. To be poor in spirit is to be aware that one is a sinner and has no righteousness or hope of heaven on his own apart from Christ. He cannot enter the kingdom of God apart from the new birth, John 3. He must humble himself, become as a child and come in simple trust in Christ for his only hope in the kingdom of heaven. To be poor in spirit is to take the first step to receiving the rest of God's blessings.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Meekness, on the other hand, refers to being broken to harness, as you would "break" a horse or elephant for domestic use. Notice how the horse bucks until it finally realizes it cannot buck off the rider. The horse does not lose his strength, but his will is broken so his strength can be used constructively. The horse's strength and stamina is not compromised. Rather it is harnessed.

Look at Jacob, Moses, Joseph and many other Old Testament saints. Their pride and self-sufficiency had to be broken before they could be used of the Lord. Meekness refers to our natural strength and abilities being harnessed by the Lord to be used according to His word.

Meekness includes receiving injuries with the confidence that God will vindicate us. Meekness is the opposite of sudden anger, malice and long-harbored vengeance. Meekness does not include cowardice. Meekness has an honest opinion of self. It neither boasts, contends nor exalts itself over others.

When we think of meekness, we often think of hiding in a cave or behind closed doors for fear of what is going on outside. Godly meekness does not sit back fearful of attacking evil and wickedness, Rather, godly meekness enters into the fray depending not on self and self esteem, but depending on the Lord working through us according to His word.

Meekness not only hears the Word, but submits to it in thought, word and deed. Through meekness, we are promised that sin in ourselves and in the world around us can be conquered. Meekness is required in the one offering the truth, and meekness is required in the one receiving the truth. Meekness conforms to God's truth.

Meekness describes our King: 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.

I Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Those who have the meekness of Christ are like their King, and they shall reign with him. They shall "inherit the earth."

Poor in spirit inherits the kingdom of heaven. Meekness inherits the earth!

O, thou Spirit divine
all my nature refine,
till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.