From Your Pastor, June 11

From Your Pastor, June 11

What a Christian is: Part 4

 I felt insulted.

I’ll never forget 9th grade, standing on the practice field talking to my varsity soccer coach.  I had been playing soccer for years, and he had just offered to teach me how to play over the upcoming season!

How’s that for a childish memory? The reality was, this man knew what it meant to play the game at a higher level than I had grasped in my meager few years of rec league. He had generously offered to mentor me. But, I was insulted at the idea that I needed help. In that moment, I doubted that the coach knew better than I did.

That story is a good introduction to the next quality of the genuine Christian. We started this series by looking at the first words of Jesus’s ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). Since then, we’ve seen that Jesus shows us exactly what repentance is. His Sermon on the Mount is all about the kingdom he brings and the eight beatitudes that start the sermon describe its citizens. The first four are roadmap for genuine, transforming, kingdom-opening repentance.

Repentance begins with recognizing spiritual impoverishment (Matt 5:3).
That leads to a heartfelt mournfulness of falling short of God’s righteous standard (Matt 5:4).

Today, we see that the third step of repentance builds upon the previous two.

Jesus goes on to say, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). No one can repent without meekness (or “gentleness”). The problem is that most of us have no idea what that means! We tend to assume that it means “weak” or “pathetic” or even “pitiful.” But, that’s not it. One Bible verse will reject that idea completely. In Matt 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [that is, meek] and humble in heart.” Our Lord was not weak, or pathetic, or pitiful. 

As that verse suggests, meekness is related to humility. I started with that story of my 14 year-old self to illustrate the opposite––foolish, childish pride. The meek thing to do would have been to humbly recognize that my coach knew better than I did. His help was what I needed, because I couldn’t make myself a better soccer player on my own.

True repentance starts by going down so that the Lord can bring us up again. It begins with recognizing poverty. It moves to a heart-sorrow over that broken condition. Then, thirdly, true repentance looks to God and says, “I can’t fix myself” and then prays that same prayer that Jesus taught us to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10; cf. Luke 22:42) The Fruit of the Spirit of meekness is submission of our will to God’s will.  It is humbling ourselves and asking him to step in and redirect our hearts, thoughts, and actions.

How do you react when help or correction is offered? Do you get angry? Or do you humbly take the help because you know that you fall short (Matt 5:3) and already mourn it (Matt 5:4)?

Dear Christian, is this what your repentance looks like?

—Pastor Barry