Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Joy of the Meek ("Meekness," part 2)

To be meek is to be humble.  To bow before God in spirit.  To surrender one's will to Him.  Responses like these carry with them one undeniable blessing--the joy of the Lord!
Did you know that meekness brings abundant joy?  Isaiah 29:19 explains:  “The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” Meek ones literally have continuous joy.  The idea in this verse is that they possess a joy that doesn't stop, that grows abundantly!  Joy.  It’s a fruit of the spirit, an evidence of abiding life in Christ.  But how many of us continually live in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11), experiencing His joy? 
Joy can become our thermometer--the gauge of just how much we are yielding to God's Spirit, to God's Word, to God's will in our lives.  If it's lacking, then our spiritual temperature is usually cold; our hearts, calloused; and our minds, distracted.  Such conditions demonstrate not meekness in our lives but meekness' opposite--selfishness.  Selfishness can even take the form of spiritual concern.  Before we know it, we have a case of spiritual myopia--a focus on some spiritual problem without the singular perspective required--"looking unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1) and the singular action necessary-- "casting all [our cares]" upon Him (I Peter 5:7).  
           One particular school year, I felt incredibly alone—as if I were the only one on the planet who understood a particular difficulty.   Never before had I experienced the kind of fighting of my authority that I was encountering in the classroom.  It seemed my soul was in continual struggle.  Daily I sought help from the Lord, begging Him for His divine love.  God gave it to me, but that didn’t change the continual spiritual battle in which I was engaged. 
Typically every September is full of excitement, goals, vision, and future focus; and that year was no exception.  But when I met with obstinate resistance, my energy began to fade, ever so slowly.  Little by little, my zeal began to dissipate.  When I returned from Christmas break with a similar focus, certain comments that lacked faith tore down the spirit I was seeking to instill.  Day passed day, and unfortunately, my own enthusiasm for focused leadership and purpose gradually diminished as this resistance continued. 

                 That year my enthusiasm and joy straggled immensely. By year’s end, instead of joyfully responding to trials as David did in Psalm 5:11—“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee”— I was instead imagining I had been all alone in my particular situation.  How wrong I was!  Though I had reflected upon the omnipresent nature of God and had discussed this very trait with my class on several occasions, I had failed to recognize that God had been with me every day.  He had been there, ready to defend me, standing about me with a hedge of protection.
It seems that so often in the practical outworking of life, those singular truths which we have embraced as doctrinally correct become lost in a muddled world of reactions based upon the natural and not governed by the supernatural reality of the Eternal God or guided by His enduring Book.  And yet God's omnipresence is true, regardless of any flaming dart that may be hurled our direction.  Often in Scripture, we're confronted by prayers that we as believers might see this good God and behold His perfect reality.  We desperately need the glasses of faith to behold God's goodness when life appears to be a wilderness.
The context of Psalm 5 is one of frustration for David.  An enemy has hurt God’s name, has torn down God’s cause.  This ungodly individual or these wicked people had resisted God’s authority.  Possibly Doeg and Ahithophel or possibly Sheba—whoever the exact cause was, we are unaware—but this Psalm gives account of David’s response when he felt as if he were alone in his authority and leadership. 
One of my younger brothers and I once stopped at his favorite custard shop.  (Wisconsin custard is a special dessert.  Better than ice cream and richer, too, it’s served frozen at custard stands in nearly every Wisconsin town.)  As I pulled through the drive thru and handed him his cone, my little brother, only a young elementary school boy at the time, began to worry, for from his frozen custard cone came an ever-quickening trickle of custard. 
“Here’s a napkin,” I suggested. 
But try as he might, my brother could not stop that ever-flowing stream of melting custard.  It trickled down his cone, onto his shirt, and onto his work jeans.  Needless to say, many tears were shed before arriving home.

          Similarly, the heat of testing had melted my joy that school year.  But God used the command from Psalm 100:1 (“Serve the LORD with gladness") to cleanse my heart as I realized that the meek's response is one of joying in God--regardless of others' reactions.  Meekness obeys God because He is God.  In that moment of obedience, the meek one enters the realm of faith.  Living in that reality, he finds God's grace available in abundance.  In fact, abundant joy can be had every moment of every day, regardless of any obstacle. 
          When David felt such antagonism toward him, he contrasted the wrong behavior of others to the almighty power of God.  He said, “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.  For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”
David’s clear admonition to all who struggle with opposition is—rejoice, because you are trusting in the Lord.  Every day shout aloud for joy, because God is your Defender.  On a continual basis, be joyful in this amazing God.  God will bless the righteous.  Around you, this little ant-like unprofitable servant, stands an amazing God who surrounds your pathway like a shield.  You are not alone.  God is your Defender!  
Meekness is reflected in your heart's response to trials in life.  Looking to God, you can choose this joy today and watch as He brings you continued joy in abundance!

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