What kind of man or woman is a Christian?
There are plenty of fake Christians in the world.
I could take you to a football match and we’d find plenty of guys who call themselves Christians, but only say the name, “Jesus”, when the other team scores.
There are guys who come here who think they’re Christians who are not.
Are you a real Christian? If someone asked you that, what would you say? How do you know if you’re right, or deadly wrong?
Tonight, we are looking again at Jesus’ words at the beginning of Matthew 5. This is the beginning of his most famous sermon. And, in these verses, he tells us exactly what a real Christian is like.
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 Then he began to teach them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus talks about being “poor in spirit”, he isn’t talking about your bank account.
He means men and women who know they have absolutely nothing good to their name for which they can take credit.
They know they’ve spent their lives sinning against their holy, perfect Creator.
They know they’re scum that should go to hell forever for their sin, to burn and burn and burn with no end.
They know that everything good they have has been given them by Jesus, even their salvation.
They know Christ died for them. They know he paid for all their sin and that they now enjoy God only because of his mercy and grace to them.
It is these people, the poor in spirit, who are blessed, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Now and again you can find someone who regrets the wrong they’ve done because of the consequences.
“I got caught. Now I’m in trouble. Dang, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
That’s not the mourning of a real Christian.
Only those who mourn over their sin because it’s an offense to God are blessed.
Only those who see their sin for what it is, and are grieved by it, can know the comfort of being saved and owned by Jesus, kept by him now and forever.
Now, this list is called The Beatitudes. We’ve spent the last few weeks on those first two Beatitudes.
NEW VERSE – MATTHEW 5:5
Our new verse this week is verse 5.
5“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
A real Christian who knows that, apart from Christ, he is nothing…
A real Christian who sees the sin in his life and mourns that he has sinned against God…
This man or woman will be gentle. Your Bible might say meek.
Gentleness and meekness perfectly marked Jesus himself.
That’s what 2 Corinthians 10:1 says.
“Now I Paul, myself, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…”
WHAT IS GENTLENESS?
So, if Jesus is perfectly gentle and meek, and if real Christians are like Jesus in this, then what is gentleness or meekness?
Is a gentle guy some bloke with really soft hands and a limp handshake?
No. Jesus was perfectly gentle, and he was most likely a joiner for years.
Is a gentle guy somebody who sucks at sports and is scared to get hit in the face?
Is he a guy who’d never mock, yell, or get in a fight for any reason?
No. Jesus mocked the religious leaders in Israel…
Telling guys who’d memorized the Old Testament that they were so stupid they didn’t get it…
Telling the same guys, in public, that they were all the bastard children of the devil.
Jesus picked a fight with those guys as well, more than once.
One time he made a whip and charged into the temple, whipping guys and flipping tables.
Jesus’ servants over the years have done the same.
John the Baptist yelled at some guys for coming to his religious meeting, calling them vipers. And he was the greatest prophet to serve Christ.
Paul told some guys to chop off their man parts, and he was a model of gentleness.
Elijah mocked idolaters in Israel, right before slaughtering them all with a sword. And God was pleased with him.
Moses found Israelites worshiping a golden cow, so he made them grind up the gold and drink it. And he had a bunch of them executed.
And still the Bible says of him, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).
So, what does it mean to be meek and gentle? We need to know because real Christians are this way.
Here is what gentleness is:
Gentleness is power under control. Specifically, it is power under the control of the will of God. It is controlled by faith in the good, sovereign God.
GENTLENESS TOWARD GOD – CHRIST’S EXAMPLE
In relation to God, the gentle man gladly submits himself to the will of God, in all things. This describes Jesus’ life perfectly.
When tempted in the wilderness, Jesus was controlled by the will of God, fighting against the temptation with the Bible.
When he was facing the worst death ever to be died, he perfectly depended on and trusted in God.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
39And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
42He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
The gentle man is controlled by the will of God. So he always says to God, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
GENTLENESS TOWARD OTHER PEOPLE – CHRIST’S EXAMPLE
In relation to other people, the gentle man is so controlled that he can take insult and injury.
He knows there’s a time to kill and a time to build, a time to fight and a time for peace.
But he also knows that every word and deed done by mankind will be judged by God.
So, he entrusts himself to God, and on purpose doesn’t lash out when insulted or injured.
This is what Isaiah 53 says about Jesus.
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”
That verse tells us about Jesus’ gentleness while on trial before he was crucified. But, throughout his ministry, Jesus was insulted.
Remember, he is God in the flesh. Jesus is truly God. So, every time someone called him a fraud, they committed blasphemy and deserved to die.
Jesus could have called on his angels to slaughter each fool who spoke a bad word against him.
But Jesus was controlled. He acted on purpose in everything. He wasn’t a loose cannon, always reacting to the first idiot who slagged him.
THE CHRISTIAN’S GENTLENESS TOWARD GOD
A real Christian is like Jesus in this. A real Christian is gentle.
So, if you’re a real Christian, your strength and abilities are controlled by the will of God.
You ask yourself, “Are my thoughts, my feelings, my decisions and actions pleasing to God my Father? Are they what King Jesus wants?”
Every day, when tempted, the real Christian says, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
This is what he prays for, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”
Christian men are not out of control with their strength and authority but submitted to God.
They are able to use the fist to protect the weak, then use that same hand to carefully pick up the weak.
Christian women are not out of control with their beauty but submitted to God.
Instead of presenting themselves for the lusts of others, instead of being owned by vanity, gentle Christian women are modest and humble.
A CHRISTIAN’S GENTLENESS TOWARD OTHERS
When insulted, the gentle Christian doesn’t go into a rage. He trusts the Lord and stays in control.
A pastor who worked in America a few hundred years ago (Jonathan Edwards) said this:
“If every [personal insult we meet], every reproach, every spiteful and unjust deed, [sets us off] and [takes away our calmness and peace], that’s the way never to enjoy ourselves or have self-control, but to be kept in [constant] turmoil…like a [stick] that is continually driven [here and there] on the stormy ocean.
Men who have their spirits heated and enraged, and rising in bitter resentment when they are injured [or treated unfairly], act as if they thought some strange thing had happened to them.[But it is foolish to think like that. To be treated unfairly is no strange thing at all. It is exactly what we should expect in this world. If your spirit is ruffled by all the insults and injuries that come your way, you are not acting wisely.
A wise man expects to be treated like that and is prepared. He readies his mind and heart to bear it like Christ.]”
Spit in my face? Slap me? Insult me? The real Christian is the kind of man that can take it and respond with control. With gentleness.
Your child disobeys? The real Christian is the kind of parent who can discipline with self-control. Discipline with gentleness.
GENTLENESS IS A GIFT FROM GOD
Now, anyone who is honest can tell you that gentleness is not natural to us.
Someone insults your family? Naturally, we want to Zinadine Zidane their chest.
Someone spits in your face? Naturally, we want to punch their lights out.
If Christians are going to be gentle, then Jesus, who is perfectly gentle, who requires real Christians to be gentle, must make us so. That is exactly what he does.
All he requires, all he commands, he provides to his people as a gracious gift.
When Jesus saves you, he doesn’t just pay the price of punishment for all your sin. He also makes you new.
By his Spirit, he makes you to be born again. He makes you a new man, a new woman, with a new heart, with new desires.
He gives you his Spirit to give you strength to please him and to change you to be more like him.
Christians get converted. They get changed. By Jesus.
So those who did not walk in gentleness now can and now do.
When they fail to exercise power under control, when they fail to trustingly submit themselves to God’s will, when they lash out when insulted, they recognize their failure. They know they’ve sinned.
They confess their sin to God.
And they try again, trusting God’s way, and his willingness to help them.
WISDOM AND FOOLISHNESS
All of this sounds like stupid foolishness to the world.
Jesus says the poor in spirit are blessed. The world tells you to believe in yourself. It tells you to boost your self-esteem.
Jesus says those who mourn are blessed. The world tells you that you deserve to be happy, that your happiness is the biggest deal in your life.
And Jesus says that the gentle and meek are blessed. The world tells you that the meek are chumps and losers.
The world’s wisdom is this: if you want honor, if you want respect, if you want security, then people have to know that you never take an insult.
People have to know that if they do you dirty, you will come back with a vengeance that will turn their pants brown and make sure that nobody does you dirty again.
Jesus makes it clear that the wisdom of the world is the real folly.
There are two kinds of people in the world: the blessed and the cursed.
Those who depend on themselves, those who depend on their own strength, those who think that gentleness is for chumps are the cursed.
The cursed are cursed because no matter how this life shapes up for them, they will go to hell.
Those who trust Jesus as their Savior and King are the blessed. Real Christians are blessed.
Men and women who Jesus saves and changes, who he makes gentle, are blessed.
Men and women who know they have no right to pride are blessed.
Men and women who know how gentle Christ is with them every day they fail to perfectly follow him are blessed.
They are blessed because they belong to Jesus and are being made like him.
They are blessed because their destiny is to forever be with God and to get the whole world.
“They shall inherit the earth.”
No matter how rich and powerful thugs may get in this life, they die with nothing.
When the gentle die, they go to be with their Lord.
And they will always be with him, even when he comes back and makes this world new, when he does away with all evil and suffering.
And the remade world will be the inheritance of the gentle.