Thursday, July 31, 2008

Canadian Church-King's Way Christian Fellowship

The other night at church, we had a gentleman who pastors a Southern Baptist chuch in Canada come by and talk about his ministry. It was very encouraging. You can read about his church here. He is trying to put together a mission team to go on mission to Newfoundland next summer. You can email him for details.

In Christ

Blog link: Women pastors-An unbiblical practice

People who support women in the pastorate fall into one of two categories it seems. They either want to ignore/reinterpret the clear biblical teaching in I Timothy 2:12 or they have not done sufficient study on the issue and are unclear about what the Bible teaches. I wanted to pass along a blog link that I found extremely helpful on this issue. It is an interview with Dr. Andreas J. Köstenberger of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I highly recommend that you read the whole blog post here. However, here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite.

In the interview, Dr. Kostenberger discusses some of the grammatical features of the verse. He writes:
In terms of syntactical pattern, I conducted careful searches of the use of oude [Translated as the word or in the verse in question-joe] in the NT and in extrabiblical Greek literature and found over 100 parallels. In each case, oude serves as a coordinating conjunction linking verbs of like connotation: either both are positive, or both are negative. For example, in Matt 6:20 Jesus said, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where . . . thieves do not break in and (oude) steal.” Notice that both “break in” and “steal” have a negative connotation, in the present case following a sequential pattern, thieves first breaking in and then subsequently stealing.The upshot, then, is the following: if didaskein (“to teach”) has a positive connotation and oude (“or”) always links verbs of like connotation, it logically (and syntactically) follows that authentein must have a positive connotation as well, thus invalidating the argument by most evangelical feminists. Paul prohibits not merely the negative exercise of authority by women over men in the church, but even the otherwise legitimate exercise of authority. Put simply, Paul wants men, not women, to serve as elders (confirmed in the immediate context by his reference to elders as “faithful husbands” in 1 Tim 3:2).

Further, he talks about other important considerations discussed in the book Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 (2d ed.; ed. Andreas J. K√∂stenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 53–84, 204–7. He writes:
In the fourth chapter, T. R. Schreiner, who has studied and written on these matters for decades, provides a careful discussion of the many exegetical issues that have been raised with regard to the interpretation of 1 Tim 2:9–15. In particular, he draws attention to the verses immediately following 1 Tim 2:12, where Paul clearly states his own rationale for stipulating that women are not to teach or have authority over men in the church: the order in which the first man and woman were created (the man first, then the woman; v. 13) and the reversal of authority that took place at the fall with disastrous consequences (v. 14). As Schreiner points out, most evangelical feminists do not adequately account for the way in which these verses clarify Paul’s prohibition in verse 12.

Over the short time that I have been blogging I have been utterly astonished that there are Southern Baptists and other evangelicals who question the clear teaching of scripture on this issue. I know this was one of the topics that led to the formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. What amazes me is that there are people who hold to the unbiblical position that a woman can pastor a church who remain in the Southern Baptist Convention. Further stupefying is the fact that churches are allowed to remain in the SBC while having a female senior pastor. As anyone who has read this blog can testify, I am about as "undenomonational" as a person can get and I’m really not interested in all the SBC politics but I didn’t realize there was such a strong liberal strain in the SBC. I guess I need to get out more often.

Check out the entire blog post. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Matthew 5:7 When are we most Christlike?

I have to admit something to you who read this blog. I have been dreading this verse for months. Every since I started the book of Matthew over a year ago I knew this was coming and I was not looking forward to it. You see, I started this study of the gospel of Matthew because I recognize there are things in my life that are not Christlike at all. I am ashamed of it. I’m not nearly as much like my Lord as I want to be. Verse 5, which spoke of gentleness, was not easy for me because there are times when I do not exhibit the characteristic of gentleness. In fact, sometimes I’m downright awful and my temper shows. God has done a work in me and I’m better than I used to be regarding my ability to control my temper but I still mess up far more frequently than I care to admit. Then, I get to this verse and I see, yet again, how fall short I fall. I don’t suppose y’all would let me skip this verse, huh?

No? I didn’t think so. Please pray for me that God will continue to use this book to convict me of my sin and the He will enable to remain true to my convictions regarding expositing His word on this blog in spite of my many shortcomings.

Jesus is again explaining what true happiness is about. If someone wanted to know how to have his or her best life now, this is the guaranteed blueprint to do just that. Our Lord teaches here that someone who is “Blessed” (Gr “makarios” 3107-happy) will exhibit the quality of being “merciful”. In his Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes remarks that we are most like God when we are merciful. We know that God is a merciful God and that He forgives repentant sinners. We should ask ourselves if we seek to be imitators of God and of Christ, how does this quality of mercy work in a practical sense in our daily lives. What should it/does it look like?

I believe one way we can show mercy is by helping to meet the needs of people who are in distress. If we see someone who is cold, hungry, or sick we can take the opportunity to show the love of Christ to them by helping to meet their physical needs. In Matthew 15;32 Jesus instructed His disciples to feed a group of people to whom He had preached because He was moved with compassion for their physical needs. Numerous times, Jesus mercifully healed someone due to having been moved with compassion (Matthew 20:34 and Mark 1:41). Of course, we are not able to supernaturally heal people today—our God alone does that. However, we can help meet people’s needs as a way of showing the mercy of God to these people.

The primary idea in this verse, however, probably has more to do with you and I being willing to forgive someone who wrongs us. I stink at this. I mean, I really stink at this. God has taken me to the woodshed and convicted me of the sin of unforgiveness many times. My flesh wants to avenge wrongs that people do to me. It’s literally like I have a list and when someone does something to me, it goes on that list and I hold onto it until such time as I can pay them back. I am ashamed to admit that. There are things that people have done to me years ago that I still hold onto. I have said I would lay it down but I usually end up having picked it up again. I feel that I have justification for doing this. I am the victim. They hurt me. I want to pay them back for what they did. I have earned the right to revenge myself, right?This verse doesn’t give me that option. There are no real tricky Greek words here. No dazzling verb tenses or tough exegesis involved. If I am not merciful, I will be judged. As I read these words, I am reminded of the parable of the unjust servant in Matthew 18. I think of the mercy my Lord has shown me and continues to show me. I sin regularly yet He continues to forgive me when I repent and ask for forgiveness. My sin is a greater affront to Him than anything any person could ever do to me. The debt, to borrow the image from that parable, that I owed Him was greater than I could ever hope to pay. My Lord didn’t just forgive the debt, He in fact paid for it with the precious blood of His own Son. He charged His Son guilty and declared me not guilty. And there is no catch with Him. It’s not like He’ll bring it up later and use my past sin against me. As Paul said in Romans 8:1 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. His mercy is such a great blessing in light of my sinful, wicked heart.

When I think of the depth of my sin I also have to admit that it is far greater than any wrong anyone has committed against me. I usually, when someone wrongs me, want to get revenge. At bare minimum, I want to exclude them from my life. I want to have no further dealings with them on any level. It’s like once you’ve sinned against me, you’ve used up all three strikes in one fell swoop. How would I feel, though, if that is how my Lord treated me. He forgives me and restores fellowship. I want to remain unforgiving and break fellowship. Here’s the deal, some of the people with whom I have hard feelings are people that I have to see on a regular basis. My desire to ignore them has made things uncomfortable. I am typing this and reading the clear teaching of Christ in this verse that those who show mercy “shall receive mercy”.

I want mercy. I am thankful for the mercy that God has shown me. I want to be more like my Lord. That having been said, I recognize that my unwillingness to forgive is sin. I find myself convicted yet again and ask God to change my heart and make me more like Jesus. I pray that God will help me to be forgiving so that I will demonstrate His love. Since He forgave me my great debt, I should be willing to forgive people for their totally insignificant debts.

Praise God for His mercy.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Assembling of the Church: Opportunities to Serve

A friend of mine has written an blog entry about some opportunties he has had to share the love of Christ with some people in his area. I believe you will be encouraged and challenged. Check it out.

The Assembling of the Church: Opportunities to Serve

Monday, July 28, 2008

What does love look like?

I'm back!!!!!!!!!!

I have really missed blogging. I am so happy to finally be able to resume this ministry. I'll have a new post up in a few days on Matthew. I'm also working on 2 Peter. Finally, I had the chance a few months ago to preach at my home church. I've got the audio of that sermon that I'm going to post in a series over the next few weeks.

However, the reason I am writing today is to give glory to God for our new home. We moved about 30 minutes closer to my work and to church. We are now three minutes from our church which is a real blessing. This would not have been possible without the providence of our Lord and the help of some of my brothers in Christ. We were literally down to the wire on closing on this house and had to be out of the rental home by July 20th. I was in a panic on how I was going to get everything moved. I was having to work, go to VBS (which went well, by the way), and then get ready for the move.

However, I had three friends come and help me move the stuff out of the house. Doug (who could probably wrestle professionally), Karl (who had the most experience playing Tetris of any of us so he knew how to fit the stuff in the truck) and Kevin (who generously offered to allow me to use his truck/trailer AND his U-Haul type truck). They were such a huge help. Then, when we got to the new home, another set of brothers showed up to help--Jim and his four sons, Kevin, Caleb, and Garrett. I almost didn't have to do anything but tell them what room to put stuff in. It was wonderful to have the stuff moved in so quick so we could get settled in for the night to prepare for worship the next day.

The title of this post asks the question "What does love look like?" I saw love lived out in the lives of those men that Saturday. They did what they did because they love me but more importantly they did it because they love Christ. They saw a need and did what they could to meet it. I honestly have been moved to the point of tears several times over the past week thinking about their generosity. It's like James said "If you see someone who is hungry or cold and you tell them 'All right, well ya'll be warm and go get you something to eat' but you don't do anything to help them all you've done is beat your gums together". That, by the way, is from the Baldwin County Translation.

Again, it's good to be back. It's good to have DSL FINALLY!!! But most of all, it's good to have a church family you can count on.

in Christ

Friday, July 18, 2008

Moving day approaches.


I found out yesterday after my wife called our new phone company that our phone and DSL won't be hooked up until next Thursday. Therefore, I'm going to be out of pocket a little longer than I anticipated. I appologize for the hiatus. I may see if I can get access to someone's internet to post next week but that may or may not happen. In the meantime, there are several good blogs on my sidebar. I encourage you to check those out. I'll be back as soon as I can get back. Thanks for your patience and prayers.

In Christ

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's official-Closing today


We got the official word yesterday. We close this afternoon on our new home. This is a real answer to prayer. We have spent many hours traveling back and forth between church and Mother's Day Out and where we live. Now our home will be where our life is. Special thanks to my realtor Kay Self and my lender Morgan Cowle for making this happen.

I hope to be back to a regular posting schedule next week. I'd appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hip and Thigh: Gleanings in Job #15

Fred over at the blog Hip and Thigh has been writing an excellent devotional series on Job. You should check it out.

Hip and Thigh: Gleanings in Job #15

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hectic Week

Hi folks

Just wanted to give a little heads up as to my posting schedule for the next little bit. We're moving to a house about 30 minutes closer to church and my job. We're really grateful to God to have this opportunity. While preparing to move this weekend with all the packing it entails, I am also working VBS this week at church. VBS will be at night so I will go straight from work to VBS. Also, we' haven't been given an official date to move so I'm not sure what day that's going to be. Also, we were given "the email" at work that said we are now officially going to be working ourselves to an early grave to get everything done in support of the biggest audit our office does. Plus, I've got powerpoint presentations to create for VBS and I'd love to find another guy or two that would be willing to help me move. Add to all of that the fact that I will have to wait and see how soon we can get internet hooked up at our new abode and I'm going to be busier than a one legged grape stomper in the winepress of God on judgement day.

Therefore, I hope everyone will be paitient with me if I'm not as regular posting stuff over the next few weeks. Please pray for me and my family as we're preparing for this hectic week.

Thank you

in Christ

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Matthew 5:6 A Holy Appetite

In high school, I was a member of the band. I played saxophone. I was invited to a few honor bands where we would be gone for the better part of a weekend. While on theses trips, we usually ate at fast food places. One time in particular, I had been on a three day diet of junky fast food. We pulled into a parking lot with three or four fast food restaurants in walking distance and a grocery store that had a deli. I went to the grocery store deli and got a 5 vegetable plate. My body said “I want something green.”In our spiritual life, we also experience hungers and cravings. We are admonished in I Peter 2:2 to crave the spiritual milk of the Word of God. Jesus, in this verse in Matthew, tells us more about the need of our spirit.

First of all, notice the attitude that He describes. He calls people who have the spiritual hunger that he is talking about “Blessed” which translates a Greek word “makarios” (3107). You could probably translate the word as “Happy” and get a better sense of what it means. People in America are consumed with finding happiness. They act as though it is a commodity that you can purchase in a store on online for that matter. People look for it in jobs, accomplishments, relationships and come to the end of their searches to find themselves still empty and hollow—no closer to happiness than when they started their search. I suspect if most people read these verses and they were asked what they thought about Jesus saying these were the ways to happiness, they would respond in disbelief. Thinking only about this verse, for instance, I can’t imagine anyone saying that being hungry or thirsty for anything would be a key to happiness. In fact, that would be the opposite of being happy in most people’s minds.

This attitude of happiness is related to the appetite of the person Jesus is describing. He says that the person who is “Blessed”will “hunger and thirst”. Now, if a person is hungry or thirsty it stands to reason that they do not have what they are hungry or thirsty for. They hunger or thirst because they lack something. I was traveling to a job interview one summer and I had a leak in my radiator so to keep the engine from overheating between stops I would run the heater to bleed heat off of the engine. I was in a suit and it was a particularly hot summer. When I got to a gas station to get some radiator fluid and gas, I got a large water to drink because I was parched. I can’t think of a more delicious taste that I have ever tasted . It was like drinking cheesecake. I would not have been satisfied by eating some salty pretzels. Water was the only thing that was going to satisfy my thirst.

We should also recognize, regarding hunger and thirst that we can develop an appetite for something that we otherwise didn’t or wouldn’t crave. If we allow ourselves to be exposed to sin and worldliness our unredeemed flesh will crave that. If we want to have an appetite for the things of God, we should exercise spiritually. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13 “12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. “. We should exercise our spiritual gifts. We should involve ourselves in ministry. We should study the word of God to draw closer to Him.

Our aspiration in fact should be to draw close to God. As Jesus Himself says in this verse, we should have an appetite for “righteousness” (Gk-“dikaiosune” [1343]). Essentially, He uses something physical to explain a spiritual truth. In the same way our bodies hunger for food and thrist for drink, our spirits as Christians hunger and thrist for God’s righteousness. As we have seen in the verses in this sermon so far, this is the result of a humble heart that recognizes its spiritual poverty (v. 3) and has truly repented of its sin (v. 4) while also being God-controlled (v. 5). A heart that is in that kind of condition will feel the need for the righteousness of God because it will know that its own righteousness is incapable of pleasing God. We will be happy then when we have an appetite for the righteous character of God to dwell within us and live through us.

The most wonderful words in this verse to me are Jesus’ promise that those who have this kind of appetite “shall be satisfied”. The Greek word “chortazo” (5526) translated here as “satisfied” was a term used in dealing with livestock. What it meant was to allow an animal to feed until it was completely satisfied. Quite literally, an animal would be permitted until it did not want to eat anymore. I relate this to a human being at a Thanksgiving lunch. I can remember as a child eating Thanksgiving at my Mawmaw’s house and literally feeling like I was going to pop. We as Christians have the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit and He works to mature us in Christlikeness but we will not be fully “satisfied” until we reach our home in heaven. However, we have the promise here of the One who is completely faithful to all His promises that we will one day have our desire for righteousness satisfied. Praise God for His faithfulness and our future redemption.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Monday, July 7, 2008

II Peter 1:1-Peter’s Audience-Unity in Christ Jesus

Most families have things in common. For instance, my father and I look quite a bit alike. In fact, my mother said when they brought me to her after they had cleaned me up she thought they had shrunk my dad. My siblings and I watched some of the same TV shows growing up-Looney tunes, Scooby Doo, and the Cosby Show to name a few. My son and daughter both enjoy playing outside as does my wife. They are patient with me when I tag along with them even though being outside isn’t really my favorite place to be. My wife and her brothers all enjoyed math when they were kids. As Christians, we are all members of one family but we are considerably more diverse. We come from different backgrounds and cultures sometimes even though we’re from the same country or area of the country. We have different preferences and ways of doing things. However, we have one thing in common-our faith in Jesus Christ. That faith is unifying and draws us together as a family of believers. As Peter wrote this epistle, probably to the same group he addressed his first epistle to, he stresses this unity in faith as these believers face the threat of false teaching.

First of all, Peter indentifies his audience of fellow believers as being unified in humility. He writes in the second half of verse 1 that these individuals, to whom he wrote, as well as himself, had “received a faith”. A person does not, according to the Bible, come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ by figuring out for themselves that they are lost and going to hell. They don’t use their human brain to contemplate how sinful their life is and their need for a savior. As Paul writes in Romans 3:11-12 “There is none who seeks for God, all have turned aside, together they have become useless, there is none who does good, there is not even one.” Jesus also said in John 6:44 that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”. We do not seek salvation or work to achieve salvation. Rather, we receive it. The Greek word “lagchano” (2975) is translated “received” in this verse. However, it really means to “receive by lot” (Luke 1:9 and John 19:24 translate the same word using “lots”). This does not imply that our salvation was random but rather that we didn’t have control over it. When teams from the NBA who did not make the playoffs participate in the Draft Lottery to determine the order of their picks, they have no control over which team is going to be chosen. The year before the Celtics won the NBA Championship they had the statistically greatest chance to have the first draft pick. Of course, they didn’t because it didn’t work out that way. They had no way to control the outcome. By no means does this suggest that our salvation comes as the result of some cosmic lottery in eternity past. The analogy is that in the same way as something like the NBA lottery is out of the control of the participants, God’s choice in salvation is equally out of the hands of the elect. This does not negate the responsibility of man to repent and believe in order to be saved. It does, however, give all of us a reason to be humble. We did not choose God, but rather He chose us.

Secondly, Peter says they are unified in their faith. He writes that his audience has ”received a faith of the same kind”. The believers in Jesus Christ may be diverse in their spiritual gifts, backgrounds, social standing, or education, but all believers have “a faith of the same kind (Gr “istomos”-2472). According to Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, this word does not usually mean alike in value or amount but rather being alike in honor or worth. In other words, while the people to whom Peter wrote were not gifted in the same way he was as an apostle and did not have the privilege of receiving direct revelation of scripture from the Lord, they had a faith that was just as precious and which made them as spiritually worthy as Peter or any other apostle.

Finally, the were also unified in the source of their faith. Peter writes that they received this faith by “the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”. Knowing that they had no righteousness or goodness in themselves, they were unable to come to God because of their sin and God’s holiness. However, when they received this faith, they received a right standing before God. As the book of Genesis 15:6 says, Abraham was declared righteous by God because of his faith. This righteousness, which we did not have and could not produce, comes from Jesus Christ who not only is our “Savior” but as Peter notes in this verse, He is also our “theos” (2316) which is translated God.

We can praise God for the unity we have as followers of Jesus and stand unified against false teachers as a family of believers.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Psalm 23:5-6 God’s Provision and Our Redemption

I am blessed to live in a country where we have the kinds of freedoms that we do. There are a lot of brave men and women who died to make sure that my family and I can sleep in peace in a great country. They provided this freedom at the cost of their very lives. However blessed I am to live here in America, I am fully aware that I will not be here forever. Eventually, my God will take me home to the place prepared for me before the foundation of the world. While I await the day of my heavenly homecoming, however, I know that my God, in His providence, provides for me here on this earth.

This is echoed in the last part of verse 5 where the psalmist writes “My cup overflows”. I have experienced hardship and tough times in my life. From changing careers to going back to school to studying accounting and being laid off 3 times in a row all while dealing with the trials of a first time father, there was a period of a few years there where I honest to goodness thought I was going to crack up. I can still feel the scars, metaphorically speaking. I once described myself to someone as being like a clay pot that had been under too much pressure and had developed small little cracks. I was held together but only barely. However, even in those dark days, my God allowed me to keep food on the table, gas in the car, clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, and diapers on my baby girl’s butt. I didn’t have everything I wanted but I had what I needed. Compared to what my situation could have been, I would definitely say my cup did, in fact, run over. God blessed me abundantly beyond what I deserved. It was by His sovereign grace that I was able to finish school and land this really great job. Even though things looked bad sometimes and I didn’t know how I would make it, God definitely filled my cup to overflowing and I praise Him for that. The psalmist echoes those sentiments in this verse.

Of course, I realize that this world is not my home to quote the old hymn “I can’t feel at home in this world anymore”. I can have joy, peace, and contentment in this world because of my relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I know, however, that the ultimate peace and joy will not come until I reach heaven. I can picture what it’s going to be like when I finally get there as I read the last verse of this psalm. I will experience God’s “goodness and mercy” while I live here on earth, but when I reach heaven where I “will dwell forever”, I will know what true contentment is. The psalmist, speaking as a sheep of the Lord, echoes here his feelings of complete satisfaction. He says “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Where else, he might say, would I rather be than here where my Shepherd who has provided for me as we journeyed into the table land of the mountains and back again. My Shepherd loves me and takes care of me. I wouldn’t leave here because I am so bountifully blessed. When we arrive home in heaven, we’ll know—truly know—what the psalmist means. We will experience first hand the blessings that will come from dwelling in the presence of God in heaven forever.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Matthew 5:5 Nice Guys Always Finish…….First?

A little better than a year ago when I began to exposit the book of Matthew, even a few weeks before I started this blog, I had a very specific purpose in what I was doing and why I chose Matthew to work through. I wasn’t preaching anywhere and I hadn’t been given the privilege of teaching in Awana on Wednesday nights so it wasn’t like I needed to get material together to teach. I looked inside of myself and saw a problem. I got saved when I was 12 years old (7th grade, Thursday, after JV Basketball practice) and had been given the glorious privilege to serve God as a pastor of a little church in Northeast Alabama. With almost 23 years of being a Christian under my belt and having served as a bi-vocational minister, I still wasn’t very Christlike. In Romans 8:29, we’re told that God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus. I saw how far short I fell of that. I therefore decided “If I want to be conformed by God into the image of Jesus, I need to make sure I keep a picture of what Jesus looked like in my mind”. To me, the best way to do that was to exposit a gospel. I had never really studied through Matthew and I knew the Sermon on the Mount was a powerful work. I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to study through this marvelous gospel. And so, here today, I get to the verse that describes the very core of my problem.

In Matthew 5:5, Jesus, again describing the character and life of someone who is “Blessed” (Gk-“makarios” [3107], happy), says that a person who is happy is one who is “gentle”. The King James version renders the same word as “meek”. In either case, I’m not so sure the English translation is a great deal of help here. The word in Greek is “praus” (4239) and according to Thayer’s Greek Dictionary it means “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit.”Most of us, me included, think of something very different than what Jesus had in mind when He said this. I picture a soft cloth or something fluffy like a teddy bear. In my mind, it would be something cuddly and snuggly. As usual, the picture that I have in my mind has nothing to do with what this word really means.

The Greek word “parus” has the idea of strength this is under control. In the culture of the day, it was used to describe the virtue of being in control of one’s passions instead of being out of control with wrath on the one hand or passive and unresponsive on the other. It was a word that described someone who was self controlled. The Christian, however, is not supposed to be self controlled, but rather God controlled. For instance, Paul writes in Romans 12:1 that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. In Galatians, Paul says that “20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Furthermore, this quality of being gentle does not imply weakness. Rather, it is power under control. The word was used to describe an animal like a horse that had been bridled so that it could be ridden. There is no question as to who is more powerful when you compare a human behind and a horse. Obviously, God designed the horse with much more powerful muscles than a man. However, the horse, when properly trained, has it’s power under control. The power is still there but it is now directed to the task that the man gives it whether it is to carry the man somewhere or pull a plow.

Jesus, of course, is the perfect example of gentleness. Even so, Jesus never compromised on calling for repentance from sin or exposing religious hypocrites. Even when He had confrontations with people, though, He was never out of control. He did what God called Him to do to the extent that God told Him to do it. If you and I are truly being meek, we are living a God controlled life. We are not forceful or rude nor do we seek our own way. We can respond with a kind word when we’re wronged because we know that God is in control over everything anyway. Notice also how this quality follows logically from the other two Jesus has listed. When we recognize our own poverty of spirit (v. 3) and mourn over our sin (v. 4) we will be more than willing to allow God to control and direct our lives. We won’t need to lash out in anger or revenge because we recognize ourselves as sheep with God as our Master Shepherd.

We should also recognize our position as we examine the character quality of being meek. Our society tells us that if you want something, you’ve got to go out and get it. I have been in sales before. Actually, I have a string of plastic name badges that is embarrassingly long, but that’s another story. Some of the sales people that I worked with had the idea that you had to be assertive and treat the customer as if they had your money in their pocket and it was your job to take it from them. We have seen numerous accounting scandals where management felt that they were under tremendous pressure to get the job done no matter what. We have been told over and over that second place is just the number one loser. No one is going to give you anything-you’ve got to take what you want. Nice guys finish last, right?

Not according to Jesus. He says that those who live the God controlled life of being gentle won’t have to worry about staking their claim to a piece of the proverbial pie bur rather that “they shall inherit the earth”. It might look like they would be left out. I mean, other people might step on them and push them around. In the end, however, they are called from the back of the line all the way up to the front. Instead of getting the leftovers they get the pick of the litter. Now, they aren’t exalted because of what they have or haven’t done. Being gentle or God-controlled isn’t something we can do ourselves. This is something that God works in us for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Just like declaring spiritual bankruptcy (v.3) and mourning over our sin rather than over the consequences (v. 4), the quality of being gentle is something that a sovereign God gives to His children. We should pray for the humbleness to allow ourselves to be molded by the Potter’s hand.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.