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Happiness Is Not Having To Be In Control (3rd in Series)

 Happy are the meek for they shall inherit the earth -Matthew 5:5

             One day Peppermint Patty is talking to Linus and Snoopy, as he so often is, is laying on his doghouse listening.  She says to Linus, “It’s the big kids who get everything. They push you out of line at the show.  They grab all the cake and ice cream at the parties.”
            Linus says, “I guess that’s the way life is.”
            Snoopy thinks to himself, “In the animal kingdom we call it the survival of   the fattest.”
            Now whether it’s the survival of the fattest, according to Snoopy, or survival of the fittest it is the same system which the world believes to be at the root of things–in politics, in economics, or in biology.  In society it is the man or woman or group which has power that gets what they want.  Indeed, some would say who survives.
            Sad to say, the  church at times has displayed that philosophy.  Let’s use our power to get certain laws passed.   Let’s join together to present a powerful front  to get our way.  And this whole spirit infects our society.  It becomes clear as Jesus talks about the happy person, the traits he holds up are not those consistent with what the world believes important.
            The word which we are to talk about is translated several ways in the NT.  There is simply no single English equivalent for this term.  The best we can do is try to form a composite of several different words.  In Galations 5,  where Paul lists this as one of the traits of the Fruit of The Spirit, it is translated “meekness,” “gentleness” and “humility.”  It is a word very central to the whole Biblical message.  If you will survey the Bible you will discover that almost all the great characters express the kind of character (disposition) suggested by this term—Abraham, Lot, Moses, (who according to the NT, is the man who most displayed it most), and David (in his relation to Saul).  In the story of Stephen, Paul talks about it repeatedly and Jesus says, “I am meek and lowly of heart.”
             There are two basic sources for this word.  One is the Hebrew, the other Greek.  In the Hebrew the root of the word has the idea of “being molded”, “shaped”, “formed”.  In the Greek, it is the word used in relation to the taming of wild animals—for instance a horse, a wild horse that has been tamed and is now obedient to the bit and bridle.  Being shaped, molded, formed, taming of a wild animal.   In that context then, let’s think about it.
            The one thing it is not is natural.  It is not produced by striving or effort, or achievement.  It is a characteristic of the work, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life.  It is not a human personality trait which some have some don’t—i.e. a natural disposition.  It is not weakness, niceness, easygoingness.  It is not the   person who never seems disturbed or whose feathers are never ruffled.  Sometimes, that natural inclination can be mistaken for the Biblical idea of meekness.  Neither is it simply a compromising spirit, peace-at-any-price attitude.  The person who will do anything to avoid a confrontation, or anything to avoid causing someone to become upset, or to avoid tension is not described by this term (it may even conflict with those ideas).
            The element of humility is part of it.  But it is the positive side, not simply the absence of pride.  It is clear that Bible affirms pride as the root of human sin.  Meekness is the opposite of that spirit.  It is the person who is not sensitive about her/his own prerogatives, rights.  It is “one who does not seek his own,” (I Cor. 13), who does not say, “I’m going to get what belongs to me.”
            At its center is submission to God.  It is submission to Him to be molded and shaped, CONTROLLED by Him (the clay in the potter’s hands).  It has the idea of harnessing the power of a waterfall.  It is not the absence of power, weakness, timid, shy, retiring–Casper-milk -toast person without backbone.  It is power harnessed to do something constructive and worthwhile.  It is as Barclay says, “strength with steel in it.”  When we tame a horse, we don’t want to take out the spirit or its power.  We want to take advantage of it by harnessing it controlling it.  We want to use it.  So it is to be yielded and submitted to God in such a way that we can be molded and shaped, harnessed so that he can use us.
            Finally it is forbearance.  (Eph. 4:2- I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.  With all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love.)  The person who is meek is willing to put up with things and people that are hard to put up with.
            Now, the more you think of this idea, the more you must realize that the meek person has no guarantee that he will not be trampled by the world and its opposite philosophy.  Stephen and Jesus are two examples.  Stephen was being stoned and was at the point of death:  “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” and prayed that God would forgive those who were stoning him–his murderers. (Acts 7:55-60)
            J.T. Seamands, former missionary to India and my professor of missions at Asbury Theological Seminary, told the story about a farmer in South India who was won to Christ by a YMCA Secretary.  He was baptized and joined the church.  When he did so, his friends and village turned against him.  They burned his crops, chopped off one of his hands.  They did everything possible to make life miserable for this poor farmer.  Some other residents of the village began to feel ashamed, sorry for him, and to feel the injustice of it.  They collected funds to hire a lawyer to take legal action against the people who wronged the farmer.  They gave the money to the YMCA secretary.  He brought it to the farmer and told him what the money was for.  The farmer refused to take it.  He said,

“Sir, I   am a lowly villager.  You are a learned man.  When you were instructing me in the Christian faith, you taught me that Jesus prayed on the cross for his enemies:  ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’  If I am to follow Christ, I must also forgive my enemies.”

            As a result of that man’s testimony, the whole village was shaken and some became Christians.
            It is this spirit about which Jesus speaks.  It is a disposition, an attitude of life and toward God producing actions toward others characterized by humility, submission, and forbearance.
            So the happy person  is considerate, teachable (can be molded and shaped), yet is strong because submitted to God, a balanced personality (Wesley).  As Aristotle said: It is one who can be angry at the right time but not angry at the wrong time.
            We do not call people like that farmer weak–No!  He was strong!  He had character.  It is power molded and shaped and under the control of God.  And it is happiness.  Read all 8.

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