Thursday, May 16, 2013

Meek is Mighty

One of the strangest virtues lauded by the Bible as one to be desired by a “fruit of the spirit” Christian is that of meekness.   A reason this is so can be attributed to our modern connotation of this word, which seems to be associated with cowardice, or weakness, or to use a slang phrase, to be a “namby-pamby”.  This probably originates due to the popular idiom “as meek as a mouse”.  As such, our society does not place a premium on meekness because it is not in line with what is identified as “the American way”.  Although Jesus included this attribute along with the other Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount, encouraging those who heard Him that “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”, it seems our cultural philosophy of the day is “blessed are the muscle men”, or “blessed are the money men” or “blessed are the powerful men”; not blessed are the meek men.

However, the Biblical connotation of meekness is completely antithetical with our modern perceptions.  The Biblical model of meekness is someone who has great spiritual fortitude, someone who will stand on his principles, who knows what he believes and will not waver to popular opinion, but who does so without arrogance or cockiness (see 1 Peter 3:15).  Jesus, of course, demonstrates this quality most definitively, as He was meek, yet He obviously possessed great strength.  So, meekness from a biblical perspective essentially means to be strong in purpose, to be confident in your beliefs, but to maintain self control and not resort to mean-spiritedness when confronted.

Although I am by no means a television addict as I rarely sit down and watch a program from start to finish, there are times where I will “veg-out” to enjoy a program which I find entertaining.  A few years back there was a series I would watch on occasion, “Walker, Texas Ranger”, a quintessential (and somewhat hokey) “good guys vs. bad guys” show whose star was Chuck Norris, a popular martial arts expert.  He once told of a time while filming his TV series in Texas where he had stopped at a restaurant for dinner. He was relaxing in his corner booth when a large man came up to him and informed Norris he was sitting in “his booth”.  Without hesitation, Norris simply got up and moved to another booth.  A few minutes later the guy came to see Norris again and asked, “Are you Chuck Norris?”  Norris nodded he was.  The stranger, rather astonished by this revelation, said ”You could have whipped me easily.  Why didn’t you?”  To which Norris replied, “It would have proved nothing.”  He shook the man’s hand and had made a friend.  I relate this story as I believe it is a perfect application of meekness in action!

Few people are aware that before The Revolutionary War, our forefathers initially attempted to resolve their differences with Great Britain through peaceful means.   They were confident in the rightness of their cause, and would not waver in their pursuit of liberty, but they did not resort to violent means immediately.  They exhibited true meekness in this manner.

In short, meekness does not equate with weakness; meekness means to be purposeful, but under control.  For the Christian, that means yielding our lives to the Master, and being “Under His control”.  When we do that we become blessed beyond measure.
See ya Sunday!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Blame Game

As Israel was suffering under the oppressive hand of the Babylonians, God called the prophet Ezekiel to speak to His chosen people.  They had become an idolatrous nation, actively worshiping gods other than Yahweh.  Ezekiel was instructed to warn them of further impending judgment which was soon to befall them if they persisted in their wicked ways.  Strangely enough, the Jews argued that their present suffering was not due to their own misguided behavior, but was in fact the result of the sins of their forefathers!  They put the blame on their ancestors, refusing to take any responsibility and recognize their own unfaithfulness and need for repentance.

Shift forward a couple of thousand years, and things have not changed all that much.  Despite the notion that mankind is so much more advanced, it is fairly obvious our modern pop psychology can be reduced to this threefold concept: blame someone else; blame anyone else; it’s the other guy’s fault!  I have spent a good deal of time counseling people the past 20 years or so, and it has been quite an education in human behavior.  The most common thread I have encountered in these sessions is the propensity to “point the finger” at someone else as being the progenitor of the problem.

Having been a parent, and now a grandparent, it has always amazed me how this blame-game is displayed even early in childhood.  Ever notice how your children will always blame the other guy for starting their quarrels?  Ironically, the first instance of this phenomenon is recorded in the Bible, and goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve (and even had the audacity to blame God in an off-hand manner!), Eve blamed the serpent, but the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on! (Yes, that’s a joke). 

We blame our failures on parents, teachers, brothers, sisters, churches, God, and lack of money, opportunity or education.  Scientists now even use the excuse that genetic composition causes many of the less than desirable behaviors afflicting mankind, essentially relieving us of any culpability for these actions as we have no control over our predisposition toward certain things. 

Truth is that when sin entered into the human race it did indeed damage us all (Romans 5:12).  As Christians, we recognize the Biblical truth we are all basically flawed, and one of the evidences of this fact is the tendency of our fallen nature to attempt to place blame any where but where it belongs. . . . on us!  However, equally true is the fact the Bible is replete with warnings that each one of us will be held individually accountable for our own actions.  And although we are all affected by numerous and various influences, the first step toward spiritual and emotional healing is to accept personal accountability for our individual behavior, and seek forgiveness in those areas where we have failed, rather then seeking someone or something to blame.  Once we have done this, God will be pleased.
See ya Sunday!