zeph2-3by David Neal

Zephaniah 2:3, “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.

In the beginning man was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). This image was to reflect the truth of God as manifested in man’s nature – in his actions/deeds. One of the key aspects of God’s nature is meekness. Meekness is submission to God’s will, humbleness, mildness of temper (gentle spirit, not easily provoked), forbearance under the injuries of others, self denying, dependent upon God, and not being apt to complain concerning God’s will or judgment. Meekness also encompasses patience and humility (modesty, unassuming nature) and does not justify self. Man fell from the image of God through his disobedience to the will of the Lord. Man’s nature was corrupted. This event occurred just after the creation of man (in Eden) when man was tempted (enticed) of the devil. The Lord God had given man a commandment and made it very clear that the penalty or condemnation for violating the commandment would be: “thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). Satan (the father of all lies, Jn 8:44) tempted man to follow his own will and told him just the opposite of what God had said: that in disregarding the Lord’s commandment: “ye shall not surely die”(Gen 3:4). The devil further told man that he could disobey God, seek his own will and would be as a god (Gen 3:5), meaning that man could be his own authority and seek his own way. So, man chose to follow the lust of his flesh and reject God’s authority and will. This is to “exalt self,” which is known as pride. Pride is the opposite of meekness, just as Satan’s lie and nature is the opposite of God’s truth and nature – for no lie is of the truth (1 Jn 2:21). Man was created to be meek before his Creator. Man now walks in the image of Satan (Jn 8:44) and man’s nature is to seek “self” or the lusts of his flesh – built on a foundation of pride. In order to seek self, man must disregard God’s will and reject the Lord’s authority over him. You cannot serve your own will (desires, lusts, sentiments, etc.) and God’s will simultaneously (Mt 6:24, Lk 16:13) – only one will prevail in your life. The flesh demands that which benefits self. The Lord demands that which benefits God and your fellow man. The two natures are at enmity (hostility, Rm 8:8, Gal 5:17). God would have man deny self and place God foremost and then others above self (a dying to self, Mk 12:29-31) – on a foundation of meekness.

When Christ came He made a bold statement: Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” This statement forever exalted the humble and abased (to lower or humiliate) the proud. Matthew 23:12, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (also Lk 14:11).” Jesus’ statement seems to be a paradox (a statement that seems to conflict with what is apparent or observed). The meek walk in love, which is the sacrifice of self for the benefit of another. This is a denying of self and a stepping aside for others – giving place. The proud are just the opposite and walk in hate, which is the sacrifice of others for the benefit of self. The proud (self exalting) climb all over others and cast them aside to gain what they want – taking place. It is easily observable in this world that the proud routinely take advantage of the meek in seeking their will or way – seemingly triumphing over them. The Lord is saying that one day things will be eternally reversed. Psalms 147:6, “The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground (also Pv 16:19).” The proud are walking in a great lie and rebellion that shall one day be put down. The world views this assertive, self-confidence/fulfillment/assurance and forceful nature as a very positive characteristic. Jesus scattereth the proud in the imagination of their heart (Lk 1:51). The proud seek the imaginations of their own heart and do what is right in their own eyes (Prov 3:7, 6:18, 12:15, 16:2, 21:2, 30:12, Is 5:21, Deut 12:8, 29:19, Jdg 17:6, 21:25, Ps 36:2, Gen 6:5, Jer 3:17, 9:14, 11:8, 13:10, 16:12, 18:12, 23:17, Rm 1:21). Proverbs 21:2, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” The meek walk in God’s truth, which is eternal and forever established (Ps 12:6, 18:30, 19:8, 33:4, 100:5, 111:7-8, 117:2, 119:142, 151, 160, 146:6, Mt 24:35, Mk 13:31, Lk 21:33, Jn 17:17, Js 1:17-18, 1 Pt 1:23, 25). The Lord’s righteous judgments endure forever and God’s Word stands (Is 39:8), so Satan’s lie (and those found walking in it) will not prevail. Therefore: Psalms 37:11, “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” There will be peace! There will be no more proud men who go about exalting themselves over the others (Mal 4:1); who always seek their way for their own selfish benefit. Love unifies and hate divides. Those who walk in Satan’s nature (the lie) will be forever removed from the earth and the meek shall actually prevail (those found in God’s nature, the Lord’s image). Those who are weak (in the things of the flesh) are actually made strong (in the things of the Spirit, 2 Cor 12:9). This was best illustrated in scripture when God exalted a very meek Moses (Num 12:3) as a god over a very rebellious, prideful and arrogant Pharaoh (Ex 7:1). Moses’ strength was found in his obedience and devotion to God. Pharaoh’s weakness was found in his devotion to self.

The meek accept suffering and tribulation realizing that all things work toward attaining God’s purposes in them. This was illustrated in scripture by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s refusal to bow to an idol upon prideful Nebuchadnezzar’s command (Dan chap 3). These men were meek in accepting God’s judgment whether they would be delivered (live) or die (not apt to complain). God turned an impossible situation to their favor. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were exalted due to their uncompromising obedience to the Lord and their willingness to forbear the injuries of another – placing their lives in God’s hands. King Nebuchadnezzar was greatly humbled before all his servants in his pride and arrogance for exalting self above all others. The same could be said concerning Daniel and the den of lions; David and Goliath; or prideful/arrogant Haman and humble Mordecai. Isaiah 2:12, 17, “For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day (also Is 13:11).” Those who have exalted self (your will or way) above God’s purposes will be the target of the Lord’s judgment. Psalms 37:34, “Wait (patience) on the LORD, and keep his way (obedience), and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land (must first be meek): when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

Consider God’s purposes: Psalms 25:9, “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” The meek have put self aside (died to) and do not seek the things of the flesh (1 Jn 2:15-17) or that which opposes God. These will listen to what God has to say and can be taught, because they understand sacrifice and are willing to yield or “change” to conform to God’s image (Rm 8:29, 2 Cor 4:4, Lk 6:40). Psalms 149:4, “For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.” Those that walk in pride (exalt or value self and the lusts thereof) cannot receive the things of God because it goes against their very corrupted nature and shall destroy the “self” they love (Jn 3:19). They go about exalting themselves in all that they do, always seeking their will and lusts (their way). These cannot be taught because they naturally think they are already right in their ways and do not desire “change.” The proud are not the Lord’s people (they are children of disobedience, Eph 2:2, 5:6, Col 3:6) and He takes no pleasure in them (Ps 119:21, Pv 16:5, 21:4, Lk 1:51, 1 Cor 10:5). Jesus came very humble and meek (Mt 11:29) and God was well pleased with Christ (Mt 12:18, 17:5, Mk 1:11, Lk 3:22, 2 Pt 1:17). The Holy Spirit works in those who “follow” Christ to conform them into Jesus’ “well pleasing” image or likeness (Lk 6:40, Rm 8:28-29, 2 Cor 3:18, 4:10-11, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:13, 15, Col 1:20, 3:10, Heb 13:21). Every one that is perfect shall be as his master, which must be Jesus and not self (Lk 6:40). What does God want to teach us? Man sacrificed God in Eden to seek self and thus corrupted the nature the Lord had given him. God teaches us that we must now sacrifice self to seek God and have our corrupted nature purified through the washing of His Word and leading of His Spirit (truth, Jn 15:3, Rm 8:14, 1 Cor 3:16). We must now surrender to God in love, meekness and obedience. This is opposite of the hate, pridefulness and disobedience man chose to follow in Eden. In order to walk in God’s way, self must die in you. Remember that God walked with man in Eden when man was submitted to the Lord. Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life (seeks self) shall lose it: and he that loseth his life (dies to self) for my sake shall find it (also Mt 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25).” You must quite literally forsake all that the flesh desires in order to completely yield to God – heart, mind, soul and strength (Lk 10:27). Luke 14:33, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple (also Lk 17:26-27, 18:22).” This is a hard message for those walking in the flesh to receive. Those who seek self very much want to retain the things self lusts after or desires. Naturally, this message is as foolishness to them and they generally try and serve God another way (1 Cor 2:14, Jn 10:1). Those who are meek are “self denying” and will gladly receive the truth of Christ’s statement. These will part with everything in order to obtain the reconciliation (relationship) and “life” that the Lord offers – a great treasure! Jesus said it like this: Matthew 13:44, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” AND Matthew 13:45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.The meek will walk in faith (love, surrender, obedience, humbleness, and trust) toward God. Faith bypasses the flesh, meaning that it denies the flesh its senses, reasoning or control. God can only be approached this way (Jn 4:23-24, Heb 11:6). We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). No flesh will glory in God’s presence (1 Cor 1:29). Faith works by love (Gal 5:6).

Christ stated: Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first (foremost) the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (food, clothing, and shelter) shall be added unto you.” When man was submitted to God, the Lord provided for all man’s needs in Eden (Gen 2:8, 16). When man disobeyed God and chose self, he was required to provide for a measure of his own needs by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17-19) – never totally independent of God (Mt 5:45). Therefore, those who are disobedient to God and are seeking self are always seeking their needs (and then lusts and desires). They place these needs before God and are focused on them. For those who surrender to God and seek Him foremost, the Lord provides for their needs. These place God before the needs and are focused upon the Lord. This faith bypasses the flesh and trusts in God to provide. When things are put into right order, a restoration takes place. When we choose God foremost over self, the Lord receives glory. This also proves our devotion to God and rejection of that which opposes God. Those who consistently (Mt 24:13, Mk 13:13, 1 Pt 1:9) walk such faith in the midst of those who do not, will be reconciled to God and shall dwell with the Lord eternally.

Jesus came to teach the meek God’s way (Ps 25:9). The prophecy: Isaiah 61:3, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.The fulfillment of the prophecy: At the start of Jesus earthly ministry, He publicly proclaimed: Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Notice that between the two accounts that “meek” and “poor” have the same meaning. When John the Baptist sent disciples to Jesus to enquire if He were the Christ, Jesus told them to tell John: Luke 7:22, “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” The fact of Christ preaching to the meek was an assurance or verification of who He was. Consider further what Jesus said: Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” AND Luke 6:20, “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.” The “poor” would be those who are low (dejected, humble in rank, not exalted in self, tremble before God, submissive); destitute of spirit (wanting, needful); broken (deeply sensible of one’s spiritual poverty or wretchedness); in great need of what God offers; abased in one’s own sight by a sense of guilt; and contrite (broken-hearted for sin, deeply affected for grief and sorrow for having offended God, humble, repentant). The meek (poor) inherit the earth and those who are poor (meek) in spirit have attained to the kingdom of God (Mt 5:3, 5). We must come to this place before God’s purposes can take place in us. Now consider the broken-hearted (having your spirit depressed or crushed by grief or despair through sense of sin or transgression) or those that mourn: Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” To mourn is to be deeply sorrowful for your wrongful actions against God and others; lamenting your unrighteousness; and being convinced of your own guilt. The meek are quite the opposite of the proud and have a heart ready to receive what Christ came to say. A heart that grieves over sin is a pliable one that can be shaped for God’s purposes. These are not puffed up in self (inflated with vanity or pride) and are ready to submit and obey the Lord. Thus, Jesus came to teach them the way (gospel) of God (Jn 14:23, 15:7). The religious men that heard Christ speak were prideful and could not tolerate what He had to say – His Word found no place in them (Jn 8:37, 12:47-48, Lk 9:26) and they received Him not (Jn 1:11, 5:43). John 8:47, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” Pride is a corrupting and unyielding condition that precedes a fall: John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Jesus said they didn’t have the love of God in them (Jn 5:42). Religious man sought his way and Jesus was telling them to do the opposite through submission. Man refused to yield to God, but rather rejected Him. This is what happened in Eden and this is what happens today. Nothing has changed in the corrupted nature of man. This is why it is imperative (crucial, essential) that we become meek before God and be “born again” (Jn 3:3, 6-7). John 3:5, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” To be born of water is refering to repentance, which results from being “poor in spirit,” “meek” and “mourning.” To be born of the Spirit refers to God’s Holy Ghost dwelling in you (Jn 14:17, 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19, Rm 8:9) and working to tear down the things of self to conform you to the image of God (Jn 16:13, 1 Cor 6:11. Rm 8:11, Eph 3:16, 2 Thess 2:13). These enter into the kingdom of God and that kingdom is within you (Lk 17:21).

We will understand in this study that God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace (forgiveness and the Holy Spirit to work in your life) unto the humble (Js 4:6, 1 Pt 5:5). In other words, God will send His Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those who are willing to surrender to and obey Him (Jn 14:23, Acts 5:32, Rm 8:14). This can only be accomplished in a willing heart that will cast aside the things of the flesh and be transformed, renewed or born again to the things of God (Jn 3:3, 7, Rm 12:2, 2 Cor 4:16, 5:17, Eph 4:23, 1 Pt 1:23). The Lord is working to transform your corrupted nature back into His nature or image. Colossians 3:10, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” For reconciliation to occur, all things must be restored as before the transgression. The Holy Spirit works in you to accomplish this by tearing down the things of the flesh as you yield in obedience. If you are not yielding, then you are grieving and quenching the Spirit, which is your sealing for the day of salvation (Is 63:10, Eph 1:13, 4:30, 1 Thess 5:19). God’s grace is enacted through the Spirit of grace and our only role is to obey. All the high places and things that exalt themselves against the glory of God must come down in you (2 Cor 10:5). Therefore, you must forsake the things of the flesh and surrender in obedience to God. This is really easy to understand, but this spells death to the self seeking (fleshly) and this is why most refuse to comprehend. Those who refuse to submit, just go about seeking another way. However, John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Self seeking religious men will not let this statement hinder them, they just redefine Christ and twist His Word to “their” liking. They develop religious doctrines that allow them to continue in the flesh seeking their selfish desires. They still walk in their corrupt nature, but with a powerless form of godliness (2 Tim 3:5).

Jesus was teaching His followers, and then revealed in the audience of the people: Mark 12:38-40, “And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation (also Lk 11:43, 20:46-47).” Christ was warning the listeners about the behavior of very religious men. Notice that they exalted self (special clothing) in order to receive acknowledgment (salutations, love greetings). They seek gain (chief or highest seats, uppermost rooms) at the loss of others. They sacrifice others (devour widows) for their benefit and then make justification for their actions (religious pomp, great show, false). These men walk in the nature of self, which is founded upon pride. Christ was once invited to a supper: Luke 14:7-11, “And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The Lord is telling us that we should live our lives in humbleness, always giving place to others – never seeking advantage. We must intentionally step aside for others and this is where our honor will be found. This is how Jesus walked and this is the nature the Lord would have us walk in (be ever mindful). One thing is certain: Luke 1:52, “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.” Mark 12:41-44, “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” Jesus was telling His disciples that this poor widow truly sacrificed self for God’s benefit. She forsook all in her service to the Lord, even though she had need. She threw in two mites! Perhaps she should have kept back one for her needs? This was very revealing of her nature as demonstrated through her actions. Only the meek (self denying) would ever make such a sacrifice because their hearts are not set on self. The rich cast in much money in their service to the Lord, but they still maintained an abundance of wealth and suffered no real loss. Their offering revealed little because it was no true sacrifice. Most will serve God if there is no real loss of self. The widow’s sacrifice gained God’s attention in a positive way. Her small offering meant more to God than the rich men’s large offerings. Do you think the Lord provided for this woman’s needs? The rich men’s offerings also gained God’s attention, but in a negative way. They gave, but never suffered lack as a result (no loss of self). Perhaps God would have had one of these rich men provide for this widow? – if they had eyes to see. James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” True love will drive us to sacrifice self for another’s benefit.

Christ spoke in His doctrine: Matthew 6:1-4, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.Most people want recognition for the good deeds they do. This is to exalt and heap praise upon self. There is no real sacrifice of self for the benefit of another (love) because these eliminate the sacrifice by seeking payment in the form of the praise of others and thereby “exalt self.” Notice that some even sounded a trumpet to gain or focus everyone’s attention on the good deed they purposed to do. This was not a denial of self, but an exaltation – to seek the glory of men. When you seek self, you destroy any merit of the sacrifice. True love will deny self for the benefit of another and expect nothing in return (hoping for nothing again, Lk 6:35). This means that you do not even give in order to receive a tax break, nor will you claim one. If you receive a benefit, then you have your reward. Christ further stated: Luke 11:42, “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” These religious men did not give of self for God and others unselfishly, they always sought some personal benefit. Jesus said to do your good deeds in secret, just between you and God. This excludes the flesh from glorying in any way. This keeps the sacrifice a true sacrifice. Jesus was once invited to the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread (Lk 14:1). Luke 14:12-14, “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Christ was telling this man not to be motivated by what benefits you, but give of self for those truly in need with nothing to gain. These cannot possibly repay, but one day the Lord God will.

The Lord further stated in His teaching: Matthew 6:5-8, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” This is saying that men seek self even when they are presumably serving God. They prayed to God, but really wanted the notice, admiration and praise of men. Many a man serves in various functions of religious organizations and institutions desiring notice, recognition, and praise – and these will be greatly offended if such is not forthcoming. The Lord says our prayers are to be in secret. This is intimacy and relationship with the one you love. This is a giving and not a taking. Our words must be from the heart and not scripted and hollow. The Lord wants genuiness and not a façade (pretense, outward show). Matthew 6:16-18, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Fasting is the process whereby one denies one’s flesh to specifically seek God. If you fast to be seen or gain recognition and praise, then you have defeated the whole purpose by exalting the flesh rather than denying it. A fast is between you and God, usually for the benefit of another (unknown to them). So you must be careful to keep the intent of it and not draw attention to yourself. When you declare a fast to God you must be faithful to complete it (Eccl 5:4-5). Fasting is an outlet whereby we may demonstrate our faith and love for others if done with the correct motives for the right intent. We can draw the conclusion from Christ’s dialog that one can be seemingly very religious, but also prideful and not meek. Religious men can be very prideful (self exalting) and opposed to the Lord even though they profess to “know” and “serve” God. They receive honor one of another (Jn 5:44). John 12:43, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” We must all routinely examine our hearts and understand whose nature that we are walking in (2 Cor 13:5).

Consider the proud and the meek in this parable that Christ told: Luke 14:16-24, “Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” The certain man is God. The great supper is God’s provision for salvation through fellowship and relationship with Christ. The invitation is God’s reconciliation (salvation) through Jesus. Those who refused the invitation brought great dishonor to the one who extended it. Notice that those who were first invited (to whom the promises were made) knew the man (i.e. God), but were too busy “seeking self” to be concerned with God’s great invitation. These placed emphasis on temporal possessions, livelihood, and earthly relationships – the things of the world. These folks were so busy living for SELF, that they do not see the value/importance/significance of what was truly meaningful. The kingdom was offered, but not desired. They made light of the invitation (Mt 22:5). They did not have time (shunned) to please the Lord God and submit to His will. The things they were doing seemed much more important to them (SELF), and frankly they did not see (deceived) why these things would be offensive to God. They assumed they could serve Him in their own way and time. Therefore, God extended the invitation to all the meek (the broken, contrite, and humble) of the world, who gladly received it. These were thankful and saw the tremendous merit. These were faithful to the call. Finally notice that the Lord says the prideful (self seeking) will not taste His supper. The Lord was angry because this great supper was prepared at great cost (the death of Christ). Unfortunately those who had been invited became eternally excluded because they did not see how precious the invitation was and at what cost the supper was prepared.

Suffer the Wrong

The Pharisees and Sadducees (religious men) were always motivated by selfish benefit. This is walking in the nature of pride and produces arrogance, haughtiness, lack of pity (destitute of tenderness) and self-righteousness (Lk 18:11-12). These are not disposed to overlook or pardon offenses (unforgiving, implacable). Those who are meek will have God’s nature which includes mercy, longsuffering, forbearance under injuries and forgiveness (Ex 34:6, Num 14:18, Ps 86:15, Rm 2:4, Gal 5:22-23, Eph 4:2, Col 3:12-13, 2 Pt 3:9). Mercy is the sacrifice of self for another’s undeserved benefit and is one-sided love. Mercy rejoiceth against judgment or condemnation (Js 2:13). Jesus said: Luke 17:3-4, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” We are to be merciful, longsuffering and forgiving toward others without limit. We must forbear the injuries of others without resentment and walk in humbleness and love. The proud take without regard, but the meek must give and be forgiving (no resentment or bitterness, Lev 19:17). These are two distinct natures. The nature of pride is founded in Satan’s lie. The nature of meekness is established in God’s truth. If the meek respond to the proud in kind, then they are no longer the meek. The nature of the proud is offensive and corrupting and the meek must maintain their character as well, even to their loss or demise. Paul once chided (reproved, rebuked) the church at Corinth: 1 Corinthians 6:6-8, “But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” The proud will always demand what is theirs or what they can obtain. Those who walk in meekness should often just suffer the wrong. To be defrauded is to be deprived of right, either by obtaining something by deception or artifice, or by taking something wrongfully; to withhold what is due. The meek will forbear the injuries of others rather than exalt themselves and become like them. If this seems foreign or preposterous (contrary to nature or reason) to you then you are not meek. Meekness is contrary (opposite and opposed) to man’s fallen nature, which is the tenets of Satan’s lie.

Return Good for Evil

A true and sincere believer must walk in obedience to Christ’s commands. If a man love me (Jesus), he will KEEP my commandments (Jn 14:23). This is the gospel!!! Jesus said: John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 15:17, “These things I command you, that ye love one another.” As previously mentioned, we sacrifice self for the benefit of others. We each desire the best for the other and thus achieve likemindedness (through the Spirit) and unity. Some tried to twist Christ’s Words to allow for the hatred of enemies – an eye for an eye. Jesus clarified things: Matthew 5:43-45, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” The word “despite” means extreme malice, violent hatred, anger, defiance with contempt (opposition), and to vex, offend or tease. The word “persecute” means to pursue in a manner to injure, vex or afflict; to harass with unjust punishment or penalties for supposed offences; and to inflict pain from hatred or malignity. Jesus literally means all enemies, even those in times of war. How are God’s purposes achieved if you just love those who love you (Mt 5:46-48)? We are to walk in God’s nature regardless of those who do not. When we return tit for tat, then we become as that which we oppose – our nature changes to the opposite. Do not allow the aggression of others transform your love (meekness) into hate (pride). Romans 12:14, 17, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” We must walk in the nature of God even to our own loss or demise. Romans 12:20-21, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” We are overcome by evil when we become as the evil. We must do the opposite and overcome evil with our good. This will undoubtedly require a sacrifice or loss to us for the benefit of the other. In other words, we walk in Christ’s commandment of “LOVE.” Romans 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Love draws others to God and ill will pushes others away from the Lord.

Conclusion

When you truly surrender to the Lord in obedience, then your life will begin to outwardly manifest the nature of God. The Holy Spirit works in you to produce this fruit. The fruit is what your life produces. One of the fruits of the Spirit is “meekness” (Gal 5:22-23). Love and meekness go hand in hand because this nature is a surrender of self to God and in your interactions with others. It truly takes a meek man to be taught and led of the Lord. Only the meek would ever embrace a way of life that denies self for the purpose of being conformed to God’s purposes. To become what the Lord wants you to be, you must die to what you are. This process of dying to self and being transformed into Christ’s image (likeness) produces great “change” in your life. It is truly marvelous to witness this taking place in someone’s life, but it is rare. Most still want to cling to their old life and just add Christian aspects to it. As long as “self” dominates, then fruit is not being produced. Fruit is only produced through the surrender of self and the obedience of the Lord (Jn 15:4). A fruitless branch is a very serious thing. These are in great danger of being removed from the vine (Jn 15:2, 6). Jesus said: John 15:8, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” The fruit in our lives is indication that we are in fact Christ’s disciples. If your life does not produce change which outwardly manifest as fruit (God’s nature in you), then you cannot be Christ’s disciple. A disciple is a learner; a “follower;” one who “receives” instruction from another; an adherent to the doctrines of another. The Holy Spirit works in you by instructing in the way of the Lord. Your obedience to the instruction is what produces the fruit. Its like this: If you were a disciple (or apprentice) to a master carpenter, you would be expected to die to your ways and learn from the master. In obeying and following his leading, you would eventually produce wonderful works. The works would manifest due to your embracing and conforming to the established truth that you were being shown. Your lack of surrender and obedience to the Holy Ghost will definitely hinder the amount of fruit being produced in you. Jesus said: Mark 4:20, “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” Notice the fruitful hear the Word and “receive” it. The gospel of Luke adds: Luke 8:15, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” To “receive” the Word is the same as to “apply” and “keep” the Word. Patience is also a fruit of the Spirit – it denies the flesh. The amount of fruit varied from individual to individual. “Self” hinders the amount of fruit produced. Surrender and obedience to the Lord brings forth the fruit. Every branch that beareth fruit, he (God) purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit (Jn 15:2). The Lord “purgeth” (to remove what is offensive) self (your way/will, the flesh) so as to bring forth more fruit. John 15:5, “I (Jesus) am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Jesus tells us: “that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (Jn 15:16). Everything is to be done in meekness and love. The author therefore beseeches you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:1-3, 32). Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

 

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