Tuesday, January 24, 2012

So What’s A Poor, Meek Guy or Gal to Do?

I hate being “poor in spirit”; even more being “meek”. I was at a Bible Study just last night and chipped in my pious remarks on those subjects. When you are sitting around a circle with people who are poor in spirit and meek it seems like the thing to do – the way to be. But the next day, when you run into the brashness of the world we live in, it becomes obvious that such characteristics put you at a great disadvantage. Everyone else who has refused to sign the “poor in spirit/meekness pledge” is free to say and do whatever pleases them or works to their advantage, and there you stand, tongue-tied. I hate it! The only “earth” the meek inherit is the dirt. (Someone else said that – it isn’t original with me.)

We are in for a long spell of brashness over the next year (and probably beyond). Those seeking public office are seldom meek and poor in spirit. And those who will buy the television time to promote them – or destroy the reputation of their opponent – will not use truth when a lie will serve better. It will be tempting to join the brash because it will appear that they are winning. And they may actually win. So what is one who hopes to keep the “poor in spirit/meekness pledge” to do?

Three thousand years ago an ancient Hebrew faced the same dilemma and he wrote a powerful poem (Psalm) about it: Psalm 73. The version printed below is taken from John Peterson’s The Message. It offers no immediate hope that the arrogant and loud and brash will fail, but to the man and woman of faith it offers ultimate hope. Listen:

1-5 No doubt about it! God is good— good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness. I was looking the other way, looking up to the people at the top, envying the wicked who have it made, who have nothing to worry about, not a care in the whole wide world.

6-10 Pretentious with arrogance, they wear the latest fashions in violence, pampered and overfed, decked out in silk bows of silliness. They jeer, using words to kill; they bully their way with words. They're full of hot air, loudmouths disturbing the peace. People actually listen to them—can you believe it?  Like thirsty puppies, they lap up their words.

11-14 What's going on here? Is God out to lunch? Nobody's tending the store. The wicked get by with everything; they have it made, piling up riches. I've been stupid to play by the rules; what has it gotten me? A long run of bad luck, that's what— a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.

15-20 If I'd have given in and talked like this, I would have betrayed your dear children. Still, when I tried to figure it out, all I got was a splitting headache . . . until I entered the sanctuary of God. Then I saw the whole picture: the slippery road you've put them on, with a final crash in a ditch of delusions. In the blink of an eye, disaster! A blind curve in the dark, and—nightmare! We wake up and rub our eyes....Nothing. There's nothing to them. And there never was.

21-24 When I was beleaguered and bitter, totally consumed by envy, I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in your very presence. I'm still in your presence, but you've taken my hand. You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then you bless me.

25-28 You're all I want in heaven! You're all I want on earth! When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful. Look! Those who left you are falling apart! Deserters, they'll never be heard from again. But I'm in the very presence of God— oh, how refreshing it is!

I've made Lord God my home. God, I'm telling the world what you do!

I still hate seeing the brash win out over the meek and poor in spirit. And it hurts even more when they do so with the assistance of those who claim to love and serve the One who taught his followers to be meek and poor in spirit. But I’m hanging on to the hope of that Psalm and to the hope expressed by Martin Luther King, Jr –  

“Carlyle was right: "No lie can live forever." . . .William Cullen Bryant was right: "Truth pressed to earth will rise again." . . . James Russell Lowell was right: "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yet, that scaffold sways the future.” 

Join me in taking the “poor in spirit/meekness pledge.” I won’t keep it perfectly and you probably won’t either but just having it tucked in our pocket or purse will help us do better than those who believe the loud, the angry, the arrogant, and the brash will inherit the earth.

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