Parenting With a Long-Term Point of View
Ben normally blogs at youthpastorben.wordpress.com. Check out more of his great insights there.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5)
Meek Does Not Mean Weak
This attitude was totally foreign to the original audience, and it is still foreign to us today. When hearing the word meekness, there is the old saying, “Meekness is weakness.” Meek is defined as "quiet, gentle, tenderhearted,” so it is understandable how this could be misinterpreted as weakness, especially in the economy of popularity in middle school or high school. However, Jesus Himself came to the earth meek and humble.
"Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up.”1 This is precisely what Jesus Christ did. He was in heaven, perfect, holy, righteous, and strong but took on a position of weakness as a human being (still fully holy, righteous, sinless) and persevered without giving up. We can say with certainty that Jesus was meek, but we can also say that He was not weak. This is the same Jesus who drove the money lenders out of the temple with a stick, who called out the religious leaders of the day, and who endured 39 lashes with a cat of nine tails, a crown of thorns forced onto his head, carrying His own cross up the dusty hill, and being crucified for our sake. Jesus was not weak, but he was meek.
So what does this mean for us? What can we do to be meek?
"The meek person is gentle and mild in his own cause, though he may be a lion in God’s cause or in defending others.”2 The meek person is someone who, in whatever situation, is gentle and mild for his or her own cause.
What does that look like for your son or daughter? It might mean he or she puts aside the right to be offended, the right to attack back with words or actions, and instead humbly responds in every situation. When he or she is facing offense at school, being attacked or bullied, the response isn’t to give it right back, but to humbly respond with love, grace, and truth. And, when it comes to defending other people, especially those who are weaker and in need (like widows and orphans as the Bible says in the book of James), or when it comes to God’s cause (sharing Jesus Christ, making much of His Name, representing Him as an ambassador for His message, giving a defense for the joy we have, etc.) the meek person is strong and bold like a lion. “It is not lack of conviction nor mere human niceness. But its courage, its strength, its conviction, and its pleasantness come from God, not from self.”3 This would mean training your son and/or daughter to stand up for the rights of others, to stand up against bullies and gossip and wrong accusations, and value those around them as eternal beings created in the image and likeness of God.
There is a certain duality to the nature of a meek person. Humble and strong. Gentle and bold. Kind and firm. Two sides of the same coin.
Be Careful With Expectations
The audience Jesus was speaking to here had certain expectations of how their Savior was going to come. They thought he would come as a conquering hero, saving them from the Roman Empire. They expected their “Messiah” to come as a military leader, with troops prepared and ready for war, to take back Jerusalem in the same violent way Rome had conquered them.
But that’s not how Jesus, the promised Messiah, came. He came in humility and meekness. He was born into a humble family, lived a humble life, and worked hard in a humble profession with his father. The Jews could not understand the power of meekness. John MacArthur, describing Jesus the Messiah, writes: “They did not recognize the humble and self-denying Jesus as the Messiah because they did not recognize God’s predicted Suffering Servant as the Messiah. That was not the kind of Messiah they wanted.”4
The Jews had unrealistic expectations that went unmet and they missed the Savior, Jesus Christ, the Messiah they had truly been waiting hundreds and thousands of years for.
We need to be careful with the expectations we have of our sons and daughters. Unmet expectations can be destructive. But much of the time unmet expectations were unrealistic expectations that never would have or should have been met anyway. Unmet expectations can cause negative attitudes and feelings and lead to long-term issues if they are not dealt with. Don’t place expectations on them that are unattainable or are your version of what they should do with their life.
Starting today, be careful with your expectations. Take a look at things you expect of your son or daughter (or husband or wife). Is that realistic? Is that something you’ve communicated about, or just expect without any conversation about it? Be careful. And be meek, or humble, enough to listen, adapt, and move forward. Give your son or daughter a voice in these expectations. Talk about the ways you see God has gifted them, their strengths, and walk beside them as a guide.
The meek, the gentle, the humble will inherit the earth. These are the people who are also poor in spirit (recognize their need for Jesus) and who mourn (over their lost condition before God because of sin). “One day God will completely reclaim His earthly domain, and those who have become His children through faith in His Son will rule that domain with Him.”5 The meek are playing the long game, thinking long-term instead of short-term.
Every day we have to do the hard work of battling our short-term pleasures versus our long-term goals. When applied to our homes, with a spouse or child, we have to think about the end goal. The meek look forward and understand their position before God, are humble enough to admit it and repent, and follow God. That is why they will “inherit the earth” in the future when Christ returns. We want to see our children become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ who actively make disciples and live out their faith.
"Meekness is, therefore, an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture.”6 Sometimes your son or daughter will have to go through hardship, undesirable circumstances, in order for God to guide them to a place of surrender and dependence on Him. The short-term is awful. The long-term is beautiful.
Today be active and deliberate in playing the long game. Think long-term. Parent today based on who you want to see your kids become tomorrow.
Ben has served as a Youth and Young Adult Pastor in Holland, MI since 2014. He has a passion for discipling youth and young adults, helping them realize their God-given potential and developing next generation leaders. Ben is married to Connie and their had their first child, Aliya Joy, in October, 2016. Ben’s hobbies include blogging, playing guitar, soccer, and football. Follow him on Twitter @benmarshall3 or on his blog at youthpastorben.wordpress.com.
3. MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 1-7, p. 171
4. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 1-7, pg. 170
5. MacArthur, p. 174