Blessed are the strong who can hold their own. That is one of the ideals of the world. In the race for armament, the rulers of the world put forth a grand display of their ability and power. Today, more than ever before, the principle to be strong and to survive is displayed all over the globe. To maintain oneself over against all is the slogan of our modern dictators.
After all, it is a question of the survival of the fittest. In the scheme of our modern world there is no room for the weak, neither for the meek. That is the practical philosophy of our day. And it is applied in many forms. We admit that it is seemingly a successful theory when we consider the many consolidations of the men of means, the capitalists, and the unionist who tries to offset the individual power of a few millionaires. In our own surroundings we witness the practical application of this philosophy in the combat between capital and labor. And we are always inclined to take the side of the underdog, knowing that our present-day system will not be able to survive, because modern capitalism has proved to be unable to hold its own, and the handwriting on the wall is that it will no longer be able to maintain itself. Understand me correctly, we do not suggest that the fault is with the system as such, any system is doomed to fail in the light of Scripture, for whether we take the side of the laborer or that of the capitalist, both sides are motivated by the view that might is right and that he who will survive is after all the party that must of necessity be the ruling party.
Rugged individualism and organized collectivism is principally the one and the same thing, moved by the one and the same desire, resulting in the one and the same fruit. What difference will it make, I mean spiritually, whether (as a Christian) I must live under the system of capitalism or under that of state socialism? Develop both principles, and the church of the living God will be the party who must suffer. If the principle, “Might is right,” is applied, the Christian is left out and must find his own way through this world.
Class shall try to the end to maintain itself over against class. And the individual, feeling his weakness, will try to find his final hope in the perfected state: either by law (as is the case in our own country) or by sheer strength (as is the case in those countries where dictators are the law). Yes, we must not cater to the Reds they say, but it is not clear to me what is meant by red. I find a little variation, but they all look red in the light of Scripture.
It is remarkable that Scripture nowhere agitates against a certain system. Socialist and Communist as well as Liberalist have tried to vindicate their theories on the basis of the Word—but failed. Blessed are the meek, says the Lord. He speaks concerning the citizens of the heavenly kingdom and tells them that they shall inherit the earth. It is the third characteristic whereby they are known. They are: the poor in spirit, they mourn, and they are the meek. Not so many different kinds of people who belong to the kingdom of heaven, but the one and the same people, with the same spiritual qualities. The same because the first and second characteristic must of necessity lead to this third. The poor in spirit mourn, the mourners are meek. Meek because they are poor in spirit.
The word meek is often put in the wrong light. In the first place because it is taught that also in the world we find such people. Meek people often are considered to be people without backbone, or people with an easy-going disposition. In this sense they become so easily the prey of the strong and mighty. Such people never complain about whatever may be done to them, they from their side will never complain. If good is done to them, they receive it; if they are kicked about, they will not protest. Such people, of course, are the object of pity. And we may add that even the world does not like them. Weaklings have no place in the scheme of things, but rather should be separated from the strong, the men with a will. The world is looking for strong men and not for weaklings. For, after all, the question is to be or not to be. Besides, no one is willing by nature nor able to be meek. For even the form of worldly meekness is but a show. It is the result of selfish motives and it always centers around man. And how could it be different? Is the natural man not filled with pride? Tell him to be meek for God’s sake, and all his meekness will disappear and turn into haughtiness and selfishness.
The Scriptural idea of meekness is, first of all, a disposition of the heart, and is the opposite of pride. A proud man is filled with envy and hatred, never willing to bear the burden of opposition, and he is never calm. Do not touch him, for he is either quick tempered and insulted, or he will bide his time to take revenge. He maintains the outward form of calm, but inwardly he boils. However, his head remains master of the situation. True spiritual meekness is that disposition of the heart whereby man is inwardly calm. It means that such a person is able to stand under the most trying circumstances. Therefore, he is not quickly moved. And thus it is meant in Scripture always. Remember the meek shall inherit the earth. This means, by implication that the citizen of the kingdom of heaven has nothing. All is taken away from him. And that because he belongs to that kingdom, therefore he must suffer. His suffering can only be explained from that one fact, that he is not from below but from above. And when all is taken away from him, he is submissive and does not rave, though humanly speaking they give him plenty of reasons to do so. He is willing to suffer, and he is able to suffer. And this surely does not imply that suffering is to be made light of. If we look at it from the point of view of history, the only people that always did and will suffer is the people that belong to the church of the living God. And that suffering is the experience also today of the faithful.
Nevertheless, the citizen of the kingdom is without revenge. He may be persecuted and even put to death, but in and through it all, he remains and retains that perfect calm characteristic of the children of God.
What might the cause for this meekness be? Looking at the beatitudes carefully, we find a close relation between this third and the two preceding. It is the same citizen of whom the Lord said that he is poor in spirit and that he mourns. He is poor in spirit because the Spirit revealed unto him his poverty. There is spiritual knowledge concerning self, so that he sees himself as he truly is. Poor in that he does not serve the Lord with his spirit perfectly. He knows that the best that can be said is, it is only in part, Lord.
Hence, he mourns. He has a heartfelt sorrow concerning his own condition. There is in him a mourning toward God. The daily humble confession of his sins and weaknesses as well as the holy desire to live mere perfectly before his God.
And he is also meek. Any poor man knows that poverty keeps him down. Only fools will boast of riches when they are poor. But this is especially true of the spiritual poverty. He does not boast before the Lord nor before the brethren, but before God he mourns. Or to reverse the order for a moment, how can a man be meek if he does not mourn? If a man does not know that he is spiritually poor, he cannot be meek, and he does not mourn. The one excludes the other. Thus the meekness of the citizens of the heavenly kingdom is a third fruit of what the Spirit wrought in him. It is the fruit that grows on the ashes of burned pride. A flower out of the soil of humiliation, and one of the finest Christian virtues of grace. I know the fruit may never be the basis for our faith, but is it not equally true that the fruit alone gives us the assurance that we are not building on sand but on the rock?
And in close connection with the kingdom of heaven, the citizen living the life of that kingdom has but one desire to live for the King. He sees the beauty of that kingdom, the beauty of Christ, and feels the operation of the Holy Spirit, both when he comes in contact with the word of his King and when he meets the enemies of the kingdom. His only desire is to be made like unto Him Who calls him to this blessed state of being such a citizen.
Therefore also the strife. Manifold are the sufferings for the sake of Christ Jesus. Yet, he remains calm, meek, submissive, always listening to God’s Word. If need be, he will give up his life for the beauty and salvation of the kingdom of heaven. No, it does not mean that he is a goody-goody, but such men and women have their faces set as a flint toward their God. For it is only the meek that can and will suffer for Christ his Redeemer’s sake. They are followers of God, as beloved children. And that because their life is the life of the kingdom of heaven, that is the life of Christ. Therefore, they follow, by His grace, the Master. For to be one with Him in life means to be one with Him in suffering and death. And to be one with Him in suffering and death means also to be one with Him in newness of life and in walk.
They are blessed. Blessed now. Now while he has nothing? The promise is that in the future he shall receive, but now he is not in the possession of the things promised. But whether he has little or much, he is in the kingdom of heaven. He partakes of the life of it and receives the privileges. But he has also the promise in regard to the future. Through faith he knows that the promise is just as sure as God is unchangeable. And that promise fills him with the highest expectation. For the promise of God cannot fail. He will do all His good pleasure, for He is Jehovah. Is that not worthwhile? It is written in God’s Word and sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, he shall inherit. We do well to remember that we may not wish to possess the earth as it now is. This earth shall not be the eternal abode. And it does not speak well of us, while confessing the name of our God, that our hearts and minds are set upon it. Remember this earth is never a decent place to live in for a child of God. Be not deceived and do not deceive yourselves. If all is well, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven do not feel at home in this world of sin and guilt and imperfection. This world stands and lives in spiritual darkness and is ruled by the prince of this world. And you cannot feel at home with the devil, can you? All powers that make it impossible to reveal the kingdom of God are present. Be not deceived when men tell you that they, in spite of these facts, will make it the kingdom of heaven. It cannot be done.
But presently, there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, when the former things shall pass away and we shall see the new-perfected heaven and earth. Then the powers of sin and darkness shall be no more, when the heavenly kingdom shall be revealed in all its glory and the tabernacle of our God shall be with men. Sin and sinner, devil and demon shall disappear and heaven and earth united in one and our God shall be all and in all.
That is the promise, and this promise is as sure as God is God. Now is the flight and the suffering, presently the tasting of the victory with and through Him Who gave Himself for His own.
Seek the kingdom and all its promises, and the struggle will be yours.
But presently the fight shall be over for ever and in the perfect calm of His salvation shall be your eternal joy.