One of my heroes is the late preacher of Westminster Chapel in London, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). And one of the books that has left an indelible mark on me is his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Here’s an excerpt from the good doctor’s exposition of Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
. . . the man who is meek is not even sensitive about himself. He is not always watching himself and his own interests. He is not always on the defensive. We all know about this, do we not? Is it not one of the greatest curses in life as a result of the fall — this sensitivity about self? We spend the whole of our lives watching ourselves. But when a man becomes meek he has finished with all of that; he no longer worries about himself and what other people say. To be truly meek means we no longer protect ourselves, because we see there is nothing worth defending. So we are not on the defensive; all that is gone. The man who is truly meek never pities himself, he is never sorry for himself. He never talks to himself and says, ‘You are having a hard time, how unkind these people are to not understand you.’ He never thinks: ‘How wonderful I really am, if only other people gave me a chance.’ Self-pity! What hours and years we waste in this! But the man who has become meek has finished with that. To be meek, in other words, means that you have finished with yourself altogether, and you come to see you have no rights or deserts at all (69).
This is extremely counter-cultural thinking. We live in the age of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Whole business models have sprung up to take advantage of our preoccupation with self.
But our bent toward narcissism is not ultimately a product of the culture, but of our sinful hearts. Lloyd-Jones has it right when he asks the rhetorical question: “Is it not one of the greatest curses in life as a result of the fall — this sensitivity about self?”
Sin loves to sing in my ears seductive songs of my importance. I hear everyday the siren song of my significance. And lest I tie myself to the Word of God my faith will become shipwrecked.
I need to resist the song of the importance of my wisdom: “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own site” (Romans 12:16).
I need to resist the song of the importance of my agenda: “. . . and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
I need to resist the song of the importance of my life: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
To put it positively, I need the mind of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:16). I want to be like the One who bids us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). I want to be like the One who “did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing . . .” (Philippians 2:6-7).
In a word, I want to be meek.