Lesson 4 April 19 - April 25
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 5:5; 11:28, 29; Num. 12:3; 1 Peter 3:3, 4; Phil. 2:5; Phil. 4:5; Col. 3:12; Eph. 4:1, 2.
MEMORY TEXT: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt. 5:5, NKJV)
KEY THOUGHT: Common belief tends to associate meekness with timidity and weakness. In this week's lesson, however, we'll discover a new dimension of meekness--a trait more to be desired than gold.
A MEEK AND QUIET SPIRIT. We live in a society where there seems to be less gentleness and kindness and more aggressiveness and rudeness. Sometimes it comes as a pleasant surprise to others when we treat them with gentleness. But it is this virtue of meekness that God treasures, for it reveals that we are truly His children.
There is a direct relationship between this third beatitude and the two ones preceding it. Poverty of spirit and godly sorrow produce meekness in the heart. "Throughout the Beatitudes there is an advancing line of Christian experience. Those who have felt their need of Christ, those who have mourned because of sin and have sat with Christ in the school of affliction, will learn meekness from the divine Teacher."--Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 13, 14.
In all the Scriptures God speaks with special affection of those who are gentle in character. Tenderly He encourages them with precious promises and then presents them to us as our examples. By His grace the truly meek gain victory over self, preparing them to take possession of the kingdom.
The Hebrew word anaw and its Greek equivalent praus are not always translated in the same way. Modern languages give the word meek an implied meaning of "mousy," "tame," "timid," "docile"; so today meekness often suggests weakness or a lack of strength of character. To understand this beatitude we should note the meaning of the word meek.
"A distillation of inspired definition would seem to characterize meekness as an absence of self-seeking and a presence of self forgetfulness. It is 'government of self' (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 348), 'a calm and trustful spirit,' 'lowliness of heart' (The Desire of Ages, p. 30 1), 'the ornament of God's own choice' (The Sanctified Life, p. 16). Meekness, then, is an inward calm and peace of mind that shows itself in outward gracious, courteous, kind, and friendly behavior. It has been termed 'an attitude of mind and heart that prepares the way for sanctification.' "--J. M. Lien, Review and Herald, August 16, 1973.
How should we interpret the promise made to the meek? Matt. 5:5.
Through the psalmist God promised the earth to the meek (Ps. 37:11). Daniel said it is "the kingdom under the whole heaven" that "shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High" (Dan. 7:27). "But the earth promised by Jesus is above all the earth restored, a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).
Another interpretation, however, should not be excluded. Is not self-control the first victory gained by the meek? As gentleness of character naturally conquers hearts, it works itself into another's favor more effectively than does force or talent. That is why gentleness must characterize the peaceful conquerors whom Jesus sends into the world to prepare it for His kingdom.
"Human nature is ever struggling for expression, ready for contest; but he who learns of Christ is emptied of self, of pride, of love of supremacy, and there is silence in the soul. Self is yielded to the disposal of the Holy Spirit. Then we are not anxious to have the highest place. We have no ambition to crowd and elbow ourselves into notice; but we feel that our highest place is at the feet of our Saviour."--Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 15.
What do you first think of when you think of someone who is meek? Do you know of a person who exhibits a true spirit of meekness? In what ways can you manifest a spirit of meekness that is not weakness?
What is the spiritual significance of our scriptural passage beginning with Christ's words, "Come unto Me"? How does this relate to what He said in the rest of the passage? Matt. 11:28, 29.
Jesus not only teaches truth: He is truth. Whatever He teaches, He lived: what He asks His hearers to become, He Himself is. That is why He can invite men to come to Him, the One who is "meek and lowly in heart" (Matt. 9:36).
"We are to enter the school of Christ, to learn from Him meekness and lowliness. Redemption is that process by which the soul is trained for heaven. This training means a knowledge of Christ."--The Desire of Ages, p. 330.
How did Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem illustrate in a special way His gentleness and His humility? Matt. 21:4, 5.
Dwelling on the example of our Saviour's humility should wash away from our hearts any residue of arrogance and sense of superiority. And Christ's meekness was never in any way weakness, but rather the epitome of spiritual strength.
"Through all the lowly experiences of life He consented to pass, walking among the children of men, not as a king, to demand homage, but as one whose mission it was to serve others. There was in His manner no taint of bigotry, no cold austerity. The world's Redeemer had a greater than angelic nature, yet united with His divine majesty were meekness and humility that attracted all to Himself."--Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 14.
"In this one triumphant scene [triumphal ride into Jerusalem] of His earthly life, the Saviour might have appeared escorted by heavenly angels, and heralded by the trump of God; but such a demonstration would have been contrary to the purpose of His mission, contrary to the law which had governed His life. He remained true to the humble lot He had accepted. The burden of humanity He must bear until His life was given for the life of the world."--The Desire of Ages, p. 571.
What was the principal object of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 11:28, 29? How would you relate to certain situations when emulating Christ's example of meekness is perceived as a sign of passivity and weakness?
Moses was not naturally a meek man. (See Exod. 2:11-14.) Convinced that he was to be the liberator of the Israelites, he sought to obtain their liberation by force of arms.
How do you explain the radical change in Moses in becoming the meekest man? Num. 12:3.
"In the military schools of Egypt, Moses was taught the law of force, and so strong a hold did this teaching have upon his character that it required forty years of quiet and communion with God and nature to fit him for the leadership of Israel by the law of love."--Education, p. 65. "There were other lessons that, amid the solitude of the mountains, Moses was to receive. In the school of self-denial and hardship he was to learn patience, to temper his passions."--Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 247.
What testimony did Paul bear concerning the transformation of his character? 1 Tim. 1:12, 13; Acts 8:3; 26:9-11; 2 Tim. 3:10.
Note some of the expressions Paul used to describe his character before conversion: "blasphemer," "persecutor," "injurious," "extremely zealous." "I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it" (Gal. 1:13, RSV). In the book of Acts, Luke points out the same brutality: "Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison" (8:3). In his discourse before King Agrippa, Paul declared: "I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth ... ; I ... shut up many of the saints in prison. ... And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme; and in raging fury against them, I persecuted them" (Acts 26:9-11). Several years later this same Paul wrote: "When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate" (1 Cor. 4:12, 13). Then, as he faced death, Paul again said of himself, and charged his closest co-worker to bear him witness: "You have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love" (2 Tim. 3:10).
Although the transformation of life may not be as spectacular as that of Moses or Paul, the goal before you is the same. Can others see such a transformation in your life that they want to imitate you as you imitate Christ?
Why do you think God places such great value on the "ornament" of meekness manifested in our lives? List a few reasons.
"Meekness is the inward adorning, which God estimates as of great price. The apostle speaks of this as more excellent and valuable than gold or pearls or costly array. While the outward adorning beautifies only the mortal body, the ornament of meekness adorns the soul and connects finite man with the infinite God. This is the ornament of God's own choice. He who garnished the heavens with the orbs of light has by the same Spirit promised that 'he will beautify the meek with salvation' (Ps. 149:4). Angels of heaven will register as best adorned those who put on the Lord Jesus Christ and walk with Him in meekness and lowliness of mind."--The Sanctified Life, p. 16.
What recommendation does Paul make to every man of God concerning the fruit of the Spirit, of which meekness is a part? Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Tim. 6:11.
As we allow the Holy Spirit to help us to possess His precious fruit of meekness, we become more self-controlling and gain mastery over our evil tempers. This fruit, cherished daily in the heart, will transform our selfish and impetuous character and make it more Christlike.
Why is meekness absolutely essential in the process of sanctification?
"The most precious fruit of sanctification is the grace of meekness. When this grace presides in the soul, the disposition is molded by its influence. There is a continual waiting upon God and a submission of the will to His. The understanding grasps every divine truth, and the will bows to every divine precept, without doubting or murmuring. True meekness softens and subdues the heart and gives the mind a fitness for the engrafted word. It brings the thoughts into obedience to Jesus Christ."--The Sanctified Life, pp. 14, 15.
Many people are obsessed with all sorts of adornment to show themselves in a certain light. What are the "adornments" in your life that hinder you from fully possessing the precious adornment of meekness? How can the Holy Spirit make meekness become more prominent in your life?
Study the three scriptural references for today and list the spiritual qualities that will help us have the mind of Christ as we become more like Him. What is the relationship between the virtue of meekness and the other virtues listed?
"To man is granted the privilege of becoming an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. To those who have been thus exalted, are unfolded the unsearchable riches of Christ, which are of a thousandfold more value than the wealth of the world. Thus, through the merits of Jesus Christ, finite man is elevated to fellowship with God and with His dear Son."--The Sanctified Life, p. 17.
How is gentleness manifested in the lives of God's children? Consider carefully the following points from Scripture and see how they help you manifest the spirit of gentleness:
"The value of our work does not consist in making a loud noise in the world, in being zealous, eager, and active in our own strength. The value of our work is in proportion to the impartation of the Holy Spirit. The value of our work comes through trust in God, which brings holier qualities of mind, so that in patience we may possess our souls. ... The cause of God is best advanced by those who are meek and lowly in heart."--Evangelism, p. 631.
In doing the Lord's work, to what extent are you allowing the Lord of the work to manifest in you His graciousness and meekness in your home, church, and community?
FURTHER STUDY: Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, "The Beatitudes" (Matt. 5:5), pp. 13-18; The Desire of Ages, pp. 328-332, 354; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 245-248; The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 119-121; Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 348; The Great Controversy, pp. 622,623.
Throughout all ages the true strength of Christianity has been in the love that Christians manifest one toward another. Not only love for those who love us, or for our neighbor, but also for our enemies. (See Matt. 5:43-46.) "How they love one another!" was the testimony that people bore concerning the first Christians. It is also what the world should be able to say of the church entrusted with the proclamation of God's last message for a doomed world.
"Those who claim to believe in Christ are to represent Christ in deeds of kindness and mercy. Such will never know until the day of judgment what good they have done in seeking to follow the example of the Saviour."--Welfare Ministry, p. 86.
"If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."--Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 189.
1. If a person is meek, does that imply that he or she has to be a "pushover"? Where does one draw the line between meekness and allowing another person to take unfair advantage?
2. Jesus describes Himself as meek and lowly. How do we reconcile this with such behaviors as throwing the moneychangers out of the temple?
3. Based upon this week's study, how would you define meekness?
4. How can we as Christians best develop the trait of meekness?
5. Why is it so important for Christians to be meek in character? How would you rank meekness with the other Christian virtues?
SUMMARY: One of the greatest victories the Christian can attain is victory over self. And it is not until self is overcome that we can truly achieve meekness. True meekness will sanctify us and positively impact our relationships with others. It is the essence of Christianity.
Rinal and Seblito were new Christians. They knew that it was unwise to go to the siburan, the feast to the rice god. But it was difficult to stay away. They reasoned that they would go only to play the gongs, the traditional musical instrument. They promised each other that they would not even taste the strong, homemade rice wine.
But as the dancing and drinking progressed, the pressure on Rinal and Seblito to drink was almost beyond endurance. Finally, they were able to slip away from the feast unnoticed.
The two young men returned to their house, where they prayed together then went to sleep. The next morning they awoke feeling refreshed. As they left their house, their neighbors asked them how they could have slept so soundly during the night. Then Rinal and Seblito learned that throughout the night drunken men had tried to rouse them and entice them back to the feast to drink. But they could not be awakened.
The two new Christians realized that God had protected them from the devil's temptation. They understand now that going to the siburan, even to play the gongs, was venturing onto the devil's ground. They vowed they would never attend another pagan feast again.
Seblito and Rinal no longer dance with demons; they have chosen to "walk on God's trail." Their neighbors notice the changes in their lives and ask, "What has happened to Seblito? He does not argue with his father any more. He is gentle with the children. He is not proud or cocky as he used to be."
What has happened to Seblito? He and Rinal are growing in Christ. They were the first mountain people of Palawan to become Seventh-day Adventist Christians. Pray that many more Palawanos will decide to leave their demon-possessed practices and join the ranks of those who walk on God's trail."
Rinal and Seblito (left) enjoy time studying God's Word. Ray and Dawn Spoon are Adventist Frontier Missionaries, church planting on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.
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