Lord It’s Hard to Be Humble When I’m Discontented In Every Way

storm cloudsWe live in a society built around perpetual dissatisfaction. As I write these words on my two-year-old MacBook Pro, I cannot help but to think about how much better my life would be if I went out and bought one of Apple’s latest computers. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with my present computer; in fact, it is the best computer I’ve ever owned and still works as good as the day I bought it, maybe even better. The truth is, I don’t need a new computer, but I’ve been preconditioned by the culture around me and the genius marketers at Apple to believe that every time a new, updated MacBook Pro comes out, I need to run out and buy one. The Apple computer bug may not have bitten you, but I am certain there is someplace in your life where you’ve learned to be perpetually discontented. For some people it is cars, for others it is houses, or clothes, or books, or watches, or fishing boats. The list could go on and on. We have been conditioned to think that something will bring ultimate satisfaction to our lives, and we spend our lives on a never-ending quest to find the thing.

         Most people spend their lives looking for something that will bring them ultimate satisfaction. Like Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, we desperately try to find contentment in wealth, pleasure, education, and success, but these always turn out to be mere vanity. In Ecclesiastes, the word translated as “vanity” is the Hebrew word hevel, which refers to something that has no weight or substance. I like to think of the word hevel like cotton candy. When I was a kid, our family took a trip to Columbus, Ohio, every year to visit the Ohio State Fair. Every time we would go, I would beg my parents to buy me some cotton candy. They would always make me wait until we were about to leave the fair before they would buy me some. Standing there in line, watching those wonderful strands of pink and blue sugar spin onto a cone, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Round and round the worker would spin the cone, then finally she would hand it to me and at long last I would bite into this luscious cloud of pink and blue colored sugar. For a brief moment, I could taste and feel the strands of cotton candy in my mouth, but before I could really enjoy the moment, it would disappear. No matter how hard you try, you can’t really savor cotton candy. It is empty. You bite into it and, for a moment, it is sweet in your mouth, but then it disappears.

         This is what Solomon had in mind when he said that the pleasures of this world are “vanity.” Like cotton candy, the pleasures of this world and the satisfaction they promise, quickly melt in our mouths and disappear. Temporal things can never satisfy a soul created for eternity. Like Solomon, the things of this world leave us unsatisfied and create in our hearts the constant longing for more, a sense of perpetual discontentedness that always leaves us empty.

         Meekness, on the other hand, produces in our lives a quality nearly nonexistent in our culture: it will make us content. The attitude of meekness comes from having an honest view of our strengths and our weaknesses. We don’t often realize it, but discontentment is often the result of possessing too high a view of ourselves, which results in believing we deserve more than what we’ve gotten from life.

         Contentment comes as the result of having an honest assessment of our lives. There is a direct relationship between our understanding of the gospel and our level of contentment. Our sinful pride tries to deceive us into believing our needs can be met apart from a relationship with God. Like Solomon, our wandering hearts go from one thing to the next in a desperate search for meaning but never finding any satisfaction. If you stop to think about it, nearly every sin we can commit represents an attempt to find satisfaction apart from God. The gospel demonstrates that the only way to find genuine satisfaction in our lives is to be reconciled to God.

Advertisements

Christians Need to Learn the Blessing of Meekness

What do you think would happen if the next time someone asked you how he or she looked, you replied, “You look rather meek to me”? Do you think it would be taken as a compliment or would he or she be offended? Or what would happen, if you heard a schoolteacher describe one of her students as the “meekest child in the classroom,” what would your image of the child be? I ask these questions to illustrate a point: we don’t have a very high opinion of those who are meek. When we hear someone described as meek, we automatically picture him or her as being something of a weakling. We live in a society that extols strength and looks down on anything that smacks of weakness, a society where no one wants to be described as being meek. But Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)  So let me ask you a question, “If Jesus says the meek are blessed and that they shall inherit the earth, why aren’t more Christians displaying this attitude?”  Perhaps it is because we don’t really understand what the word “meek” means.

What Does It Means to Be Meek?

Contrary to popular opinion, “meekness” does not refer to someone who is submissive, mild, or unassertive. We say, for instance, that a person is “meek as a mouse,” meaning he or she is shy, skittish, and afraid of confrontation, but this does not capture at all what the Greek word meek (praus) means. The Greeks had a very different saying; rather than focusing on a person’s lack power, they used the word meek to describe someone who exercised composure.[1] The Greeks, therefore, would say that someone was as “meek as a lion.” The Greeks used the word meek to describe animals that had been tamed or domesticated. This particular use of the word shows us the value of cultivating the virtue of meekness. A horse, for example, is a beautiful and powerful creature, but until it is broken, it isn’t much value to human beings. Once a horse has been tamed, however, its enormous potential and power can be turned into something productive. This same principle holds true for people. We are of no practical use to the kingdom of God until we learn to live under full submission to the will of God and the control of the Holy Spirit.

This attitude of submission is the direct result of the way meekness relates to the way we see ourselves. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “Meekness is essentially a true view of oneself, expressing itself in attitude and conduct with respect to others. The man who is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.”[2]  Over the next few days we are going to further examine what the Bible says about being meek by examining the life of Moses, whom the Bible says was the “meekest man on the earth.” (Num 12:3).  But for today, I want to encourage you to stop right now and pray about how you might cultivate the attitude of meekness in your life.  

 

[1] John MacArthur, The Beatitudes: The Only Way to Happiness (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), 99.

[2] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 57.