Finding Inheritance Through Equanimity
Carrying a Wad of Cash
Carrying a Wad of Cash
Have you ever been to one of those massive cities of the world, and found yourself navigating the busses and subways while carrying a big wad of cash in your pocket or clutching your US Passport close to your body as that simple piece of paper held the only key to your release from the clutches of a decidedly anti-Christian government or from the rags of Third World poverty? What is the posture that you take when riding along? Certainly you do not just fall asleep, or carry your treasured possessions in a Ziploc bag for everybody to see. To do that would be to express that you just did not care about the value of the treasure. On the other extreme, you probably would not be the person that got everybody else on the bus riled up, whether it be through your incessant talking, your willingness to pick a fight, or your conveyance of any other form of drama. Doing so would raise the risk of somebody picking a fight with you in order to quiet you down, putting your treasure in jeopardy as well. The most sensible course of action would be to just sit there on the subway train, fully awake and aware of your situation and surroundings, ready to defend yourself if necessary, but still engaged in a gentle, even-keeled way with those around you.
Such a hypothetical situation is akin to the process of becoming Christian that Jesus articulates at the start of His Sermon on the Mount. We find those who were drowning in sin, those who realize their depravity of Spirit, crying out to God to save them. The Kingdom of Heaven is granted to them. And even subsequently when they realize that they have fallen after being given such a gift, their mourning to God turns to joy, turns to assurance that Jesus died on the cross for them. It is these folks that go around carrying what feels like a treasure in their pocket. It is for them that Jesus says “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Sometimes we get the idea that meekness could be equated with a lack of strength, a lack of courage, submissiveness, or even apathy. But they who are meek are not those without feeling or drive. They are not those without zeal for God. We know this because the Gospel writer Matthew uses the same Greek word two other times in his Gospel, and on on both of those occasions the word refers to Jesus. The first occasion is when Jesus himself is compelling the people to take His yoke and learn from Him, for He is “gentle” (the same word as meek, “and lowly in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. The other instance where Matthew utilizes the word is to describe Jesus posture, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Thus we find the meekness Jesus is describing to be one that does not destroy our affections, but instead provides a balance of mind. We can clearly see and discern that which is evil, but meekness keeps us on an even keel. Our passions are not squelched or extinguished, but instead we find mastery of all of them, that we control our passions rather than our passions controlling us. This meekness, or perfect regulation has power to shield us from the fiery darts of the enemy because it takes our hate, anger, and fear of sin, and balances those with faith and love.
This temper, this patience, increases in us day by day. It’s product is a contentedness that allows one who is meek to celebrate that which he or she possesses, whether it be a little or a lot. Those possessions can be seen in the same light that God saw them when he created the earth, that they are indeed good. God gave the whole earth to those whom He made in his very own image. Like Adam and Eve inherited all the plants, all the animals, all the ground and it was perfect, so too the Christian who is meek inherits the earth. Such a cool headedness too allows one to wait for the ultimate inheritance, here on earth, when man dwells with Jesus in the New Jerusalem.
Getting back to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount scorecard, we find first that pride was eliminated by poverty of spirit. Lack of seriousness and thoughtlessness were eliminated by mourning. Anger, impatience, and discontent are overcome by meekness. A Christian is at the point then where he or she has lost all false cravings and appetites. What, then, is left to crave? It is righteousness, which consists of every holy and heavenly temper in one; springing from as well as terminating in the love of God as our Father and Redeemer, and the love of all people for His sake. It is the mind that was in Christ Jesus.
It is not any secret that hunger and thirst are our most prominent bodily appetites. It is not unusual for people to come to church and be planning their next meal as the preacher is droning on with the sermon. But just as we have body and soul, so too do we have bodily appetites and spiritual appetites. The hunger and thirst for righteousness is the most prominent spiritual appetite. It (after the aforementioned distractions are gone) becomes what we crave until we either eat and drink, or die. Just like hunger for food cannot be soothed without food, hunger for righteousness cannot be soothed without righteousness. Eventually hunger leads to the point where we’re literally crying out. If you give a starving man a bar of gold (with no means for him to exchange it), he will still say “This is not what I want; give me food, or else I die.” Just the same, if a man is starving for righteousness, you could offer him riches, or honor, or pleasure, and he will still cry out “This is not what I want; give me love, or else I die.”
Only God can feed somebody that is hungry for righteousness. It cannot be accomplished by going to church, it cannot be accomplished from abstaining from outward sin, it cannot be accomplished by feeding the poor or being charitable to one’s neighbor. The hunger for righteousness is the wanting of religion of a nobler kind, a religion higher and deeper than this. The knowledge of God in Christ Jesus; ‘the life that is his with Christ in God’; the being ‘joined to the Lord in one Spirit’; the having ‘fellowship with the Father and the Son’; the ‘walking in the light as God is in the light’; the being ‘purified even as he is pure’ — this is the religion, the righteousness that is thirsted after.
Jesus promises us that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. God will feed them with the bread of heaven, with spiritual bread, just as he fed those in the wilderness with physical bread. And the more they are filled with the life of God, the more tenderly will they be concerned for those who are still without God in the world, still dead in trespasses and sins. The response to being filled is to grieve for those who remain unfilled. These are then the merciful, the ones who truly love their neighbors as themselves. Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” That mercy is conveyed through a constant and undying commitment to charity, not just for a season but until the end. It is a patient charity that suffers through a neighbors infirmities no matter what they may be. It means even feeding our enemy when he or she hungers, if he or she thirsts, still providing a drink, thus continually ‘heaping coals of fire’, of melting love, atop their head.
You may be overwhelmed by Jesus’ depiction of the Christian Life. We live in an age where everybody is trying to make everything easy. We have lowered the bar for what we consider a Christian to be. But when we delve into God’s Word, when we listen to Jesus, we see that the experience of Christianity has impact on every thread of our being. We do not have the option of staying the same. For God made us in His image that we may be like Him, that we may be holy as He is holy. Let the grace of God work in you, and you will be meek. Be starved for righteousness and you will be filled. You will even find mercy and love to heap upon that guy down the road that you’ve been sparring with for the past 20 years. This is why we exist. This is why we are here. This is why we are climbing the mountain, for Christ to show us the Way.