Everyone wants to achieve greatness. We all have ideal dreams since we were young and want to make life matter. As long as we still breathe, we want to make a mark in this world and leave a legacy with our life. However, why do so few people realize their dreams?
The first reason is the lack of consciousness. We don’t know what we don’t know. God wants us to live in heaven on earth, but until we are conscious of what’s hindering us, we cannot progress. So, the first step is to raise your consciousness, and it’s covered in the first Beatitude that we previously discussed.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:3).
The second reason is the lack of abandonment. Some people take two steps forward and one step back, giving in to the force of regression. So, the second step is to abandon idol that pulls us back, including our ego, company, and possessions. We have also discussed this previously in the second Beatitude,
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Mat 5:4).
We mourn for the lost of the idols we used to rely on. After the abandonment, you enter the state of reliance on God. So, the third step is “Reliance,” tapping on the power beyond us. That’s our topic today.
When I was young, I learned Karate from my pastor. A few years later, I reunited with my father. Since he was a Taiji master, he observed me throwing a punch. He said, “Your punch is weak because you are using your body to throw a punch. If you use the earth to throw the punch, it’s more forceful.” I did not understand.
So, he demonstrated to me by pushing me with his hands, and he almost threw me out of the window. He was smaller than me, so I was surprised by his powerful force. He said, “I am not even using the full force yet. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be standing. I could even have injured your inner parts and broken your bones.”
He said if you could tap into the force from the center of the earth, you could throw the most powerful punch as if throwing the globe at your opponent. It was a profound concept beyond what I could comprehend at that time.
It’s an art that takes years to practice. Maybe that’s why they call it a martial art. Those who are advanced in martial art understand this philosophy. In fact, the highest level of martial art is more philosophical than physical. It’s about how to win without a fight, just as Sunzi wrote in his Art of War.
In fact, life is Spiritual Warfare against the forces that keep us away from the kingdom of heaven. The good news is you can win without fighting if you know how to rely on God’s power to back you up. Reliance on God’s power has become counterintuitive because we have been taught self-reliance.
The difference is how forceful a punch you want to throw at the devil. The devil would love to take your self-reliant punch because it’s weaker, but it makes you think you are powerful so that you don’t rely on God. However, if you want to throw an incredibly forceful punch at the devil, you need to learn the art of reliance. So, let’s begin.
[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone—the Lightkeeper! You are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]
Today, I want to focus on the third blessing in the Beatitudes. It’s from the Gospel According to Matthew 5:5. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Mt 5:5).
[This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!]
Like the previous verses of the Beatitudes, this verse is encrypted. It’s also counterintuitive because we tend to associate meekness with weakness, but the biblical term meekness means “power under control.” It’s translated from Greek, πραΰς (praǘs), that means “calm, tranquil, tamed, serene.”
The ancient Greeks used “praus” to describe the calmness and gentleness of a strong and swift warhorse ready to be ridden to go to war. A wild horse is uncontrollable and useless, but when it is tamed, it becomes an instrument for a greater purpose.
It’s like our ego. Untamed, it’s running around a chicken with its head cut off. When tamed, we become an effective instrument for a divine purpose.
Another situation the Greeks use the word “praus” or “meek” is to describe a sword in the sheath—a lethal force under control. That is what the Chinese idiom, “crouching tiger, hidden dragon,” is about. It depicts a sage in the humble form of a student. So, meekness is far from the weakness as most people think.
The opposite is also true. Weakness is not meekness. A coward is not equivalent to a meek person because meekness requires courage. It’s easy to take out your sword to cut the ear off a guard as Peter did when they came to arrest Jesus, but it takes more courage to keep your sword in the sheath.
Jesus demonstrated himself as gentle and meek. Here is how the Bible describes his meekness:
Though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (Php 2:6–8).
This passage beautifully describes Jesus as a lethal weapon in the sheath. He is meek but not weak. When he was on the cross, he could have commanded the heavenly host to come down to reveal his power, but he chose to forgive those who crucified him. Jesus is the embodiment of meekness.
The worst Jesus ever did with his power was cursing a fig tree to death. The Bible says,
“And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.” (Mt 21:19).
Jesus dislike unfruitfulness. If he could wither a fig tree with a sentence, can you imagine what destruction he could bring to earth with his full power? However, Jesus chose to use his power for healing, feeding, or saving lives. That’s what meekness is about—power under control.
Do you know Jesus has also given you a lethal power? After the resurrection, Jesus gave this power to his disciples. John recorded,
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn 20:22–23).
Have you received the Holy Spirit? If so, you are lethal. You can either forgive people or retain their sins. That means if you don’t forgive anyone, they could go to hell. Jesus installed in you that authority through the Holy Spirit. However, what do you think Jesus expects you to do with that power? Do as he does.
Here’s why it matters. If you forgive someone because you don’t have the power to condemn them to hell, your forgiveness means nothing. It just means you lick your wounds to heal yourself by forgiving others. However, if you have the power to send them to hell, but you choose to forgive, that’s significant.
Meekness is a weakness if you don’t have the power to perform otherwise. Now, Jesus has made you lethal and let you choose, and he clearly set an example for you to choose meekness. He would say to you just as he said to Peter,
“Put your sword in its sheath!” (John 18:11c).
King David was marching through a small village called Bahurim, a man named Shimei came out to curse him. The Bible says,
He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. Shimei shouted while he cursed, “Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel!” (2 Sa 16:6–7).
Can you imagine the scene? King Davide was surrounded by the deadly ninjas. This man came had the audacity to throw stones at them and curse the king. One of his ninjas came to David and asked for permission to cut the head off of that “dead dog.” (That was the term he used.) But, King David said let him curse if that’s God’s will.
That is meekness. By this time, King David had learned his lessons. He is now old and more mature, had repented from his sin of murdering Uriah and taking his wife, Bathsheba. By this time, David had learned to keep his lethal weapon in its sheath. God blessed him with an everlasting kingdom through Jesus Christ.
If you want to achieve greatness, you must be meek. You might have great ambition like anyone else, but until you learn to lesson of meekness and develop the discipline of God-reliance over self-reliance, you are not ready to fulfill it.
You know Moses was a warrior at heart since he was young. He killed an Egyptian to defend a fellow Jew and had the ambition to free the Jews from slavery. But he was not ready for the noble task because he could not keep his sword in its sheath. God sent him for exile to learn meekness as a shepherd. The Bible says,
“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Nu 12:3).
Can you imagine Moses became the meekest man on earth? That qualified him for a higher calling. He was eighty years old when God assigned him to lead the Israelites to freedom. It was not an easy task. He wouldn’t survive without meekness. It was not an easy crowd to lead.
If you read the story of the Exodus, you see how many times he was abused by his own people. Instead of thanking him for freedom from slavery, they constantly blamed him for hardship in the wilderness and accused him of taking them out from Egypt to die in the desert. Yet, he repeatedly asked God to forgive them.
Indeed, he was the meekest man on earth and deserved the higher calling. I wouldn’t be able to do the job. Maybe I will when I am eighty if God prepares me.
If you want to achieve greatness, you must be meek because the meek shall inherit the earth. That means you are blessed with the necessary resources on earth to carry the heavyweight of greatness on your shoulder.
When you are lethal but choose not to use your lethal power, you become even more lethal. It’s again counterintuitive, but that’s the reality.
How do you become meek? You become meek by taking the first two steps—consciousness and abandonment, which we discussed previously. That will take you to meekness. The third step is to maintain meekness so that you will win the world without losing your soul by relying on God rather than yourself.
The spiritual discipline to maintain meekness is called “Contemplation.” It’s a lost art of prayer. There are three types of prayers—supplication, meditation, and contemplation. Supplication is how most of us pray, asking God for a favor.
Meditation is to achieve a goal. For example, you mediate on the Fruit of the Spirit to take fruitful actions. Unlike secular meditation, which tells you not to think, Christian meditation is about thinking positive things, as Paul taught us,
“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Php 4:8).
That’s an example of Christian mediation. Secular mediation is just about emptying the cup, but an empty cup can become a vessel for the devil if you don’t replace it with good stuff immediately. As the proverb says, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” So meditating on the fruit of the Spirit is a good beginning.
Now, let’s talk about “Contemplation” for maintaining meekness. Contemplation is “calm observation.” Unlike meditation, it doesn’t have a goal. It’s just a pure peaceful observation of God’s presence. As the Psalmist says,
“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps 46:10).
Being still is the same as being calm and meek. With stillness, you can observe God’s presence, power, and purpose around you. Thomas Merton said that a contemplative life is a journey from opaqueness to transparency. If you keep a busy life and busy mind, things become opaque.
To see through, you must be still and observe. It doesn’t mean you must be physically still, but at least mentally still, like still water. Contemplation is to see through.
If you visit Chinese homes, you will often see a painting of storks or cranes hanging on the wall (like this one). The Chinese word for storks is 鹳 (guan), which has the same pronunciation as observation 觀, and the characters also look similar. So storks are synonymous with observation.
Storks are majestic birds. The way they stand still by the water and observe what’s going on around them depicts the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” They hardly move when they observe, but when they do move, they are precise. All of a sudden, you see a fish in their beak.
It’s like a meek person who is still and discerns God’s direction. Then you take action according to God’s command. So your efforts are precisely according to God’s will, and your harvest is fruitful.
If meekness is compared to a tamed horse, you allow God to ride on you and move according to God’s command to carry out God’s greater purpose. Who knows you won’t be another Moses who will save many people from the contemporary form of slavery. Meekness is how great people throughout history achieved greatness.
There is another benefit of meekness. Zhuangzi said, “People come to the still water to see their face, not the rough water.” Before the invention of mirrors, people used still water to see their faces. We can’t see our faces in rough water.
That means if your mind is like still water, you become like a mirror. When people come to you, they see their own reflection. As a result, you induce change in them without having to say a word. It’s like Laozi’s philosophy of “Teaching without words. Governing without action.” It’s like winning without a fight.
Even if you have to take action, it’s effective. Rember the scene of Jesus that he sat still for a long time in a tense situation, and then said, “Whoever has never sinned, cast the first stone.” It sounded like a punch from the center of the earth. One after another saw their reflections, dropped their stones, and left.
So, practice contemplation to nurture meekness. “Be still, and know that I am God.” You will be blessed with abundant resources to deploy. You will win the world without losing your soul. You will conquer the earth with your sword still in its sheath. Let us all learn to live a contemplative life to maintain meekness.
That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound happiness.