True Power/True Happiness: What Jesus Said About Happiness Part 4

Happy are the Meek

In Matthew 5:5, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” I cannot think of anything more countercultural than that. In Jesus’ day, the Jewish people He taught were living under the occupation of the mighty Roman empire. These oppressed Roman subjects must’ve perked up when they heard this.

A Failed Revolution?

Visions of a life finally free from the control of a foreign government must have danced in their heads. We know that most of them assumed he was some kind of revolutionary. The vast majority of them would be sorely disappointed, assuming again that his death meant his revolution had failed.

Did anyone understand what Jesus was actually promising? This wasn’t a promise of freedom from Roman oppression–not directly anyway. In actuality, Jesus was painting a picture of freedom from anything and everything. This freedom was real, but a very strange kind of freedom to the worldly mind.

Owners of Everything

He says the meek will “inherit the earth.” To inherit the earth means to become the owners of everything. Well, if you’ve been on the earth very long, you realize He did not mean they would be owners in the earthly sense. In the truest sense, however, those who believe in Him are the owners of everything.

Jesus was never interested in making people powerful or comfortable in this life. In fact, He promised we’d be persecuted (just read down a few verses), and that following Him would basically put us on the bottom of the worldly power scale.

Redefining Happiness

So how does being on the bottom make us owners of everything? Jesus said repeatedly that the last would be first in His kingdom. He told His disciples that the greatest among us would be the servant of all. So Jesus is once again redefining what it means to be happy by redefining power.

In Matthew 18:4 He says, “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Then, in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus is saying that it is actually the lowest place of service which is the highest place of honor. The apostles echo him: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Peter 5:6) and “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10)

Jesus’ Example

Finally, Paul extols the immense power of humility and servanthood when He calls us to take on the mind of Christ when,

“although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:6-11

The power that rests in the hand of the humble is immeasurably greater than that which rages in the heart of the proud. Those who learn to see the world in a new way, in the kingdom way, see through the façade of earthly power. They recognize that true power is found in humbling oneself as Jesus did, and that to be meek is truly to be the owner of everything.

True Power and True Happiness

“The meek shall inherit the earth” is an oft-quoted sentiment that has the connotation of a pie-in-the-sky, maybe-someday platitude, but its truth is much more definite and much more immediate. The sermon on the mount was above all an announcement that the kingdom of God had arrived, not that it was going to someday arrive. What Jesus is saying is that right now, those who are willing to embrace meekness, to see the world in a new way, will discover true power, and in the process, find true happiness.

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