Aren’t You Tired? {Listening to the Beatitudes: Part 3}

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”

~Matthew 5:5

“Aren’t you tired?”

Three simple words cutting through our humanity.  We labor and strive for a way of life, and grow thoroughly exhausted.  Miss Hilly Hollbrook knew all about the exhaustion of trying to keep a way of life filled with position and entitlements. As the President of the Junior League in the movie (and book of the same title) The Help, she worked very hard by using manipulation, political spin, and outright hatred to keep her pedestal raised above the black help, those she perceived as white trash, and anyone else who dared to challenge her superiority. The only time we see her cry is in the last scene when Abilene, the black maid, confronts her with the question, “Aren’t you tired?

Entitlements will wear you out.  They demand competition.  They demand you stay on your game, in charge, controlling all the elements. If you let your guard down, they will slip through your fingers and another will overpower you…even for what may be rightfully yours.

The kingdom Jesus preached was just the opposite of the one so many of us live. When the world and our hearts say “Take it by force.”  Jesus says, “I know what you deserve; what has been promised to you. You can loosen your grip. You can relax those muscles you’ve been strong-arming around to get your way. Be gentle and meek.

The perspective of meekness wasn’t new in Jesus day. The people of Israel had ebbed and flowed through history as the oppressed, disadvantaged and disrespected.  Jesus lifts the words for His sermon right out of a centuries old choir song of David, “Those who put their hope in their LORD will inherit the land (v.9)…the humble will inherit the land and will enjoy abundant prosperity (v.11)…the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it permanently (v.28)…wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land (v. 34).”  Out of Psalm 37 we see that in the midst of oppressive, even evil circumstances, God’s people are oriented toward the power of the Almighty.  Meekness is the outer response of an internal conviction of a future judgment day when all things will be set right. “For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD supports the righteous. The LORD watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever(Psalm 37:18).

Kingdom living is a letting go kind of life.  Resisting entitlements.  Surrendering rights.  Releasing power.  How is this done? “Do not be agitated by evildoers (v.1)…trust in the Lord and do good (v.3)…take delight in the LORD (v.4)…be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for Him (v.7)…refrain from anger and give up your rage (v. 8)…be generous and lend (vv. 21, 26)…turn away from evil and do what is good (v. 27)…wait for the LORD and keep His way (v. 34).”

What Miss Hilly Hollbrook got wrong is in believing that her life was hers for the making.  If she clawed her way to the top of the pile on the backs of others, she thought she would find her rightful influence and inheritance. It’s something we can all easily mistake…even in the pursuit of doing what we think is ‘good.’

Righteousness can never come through force. Not as a parent. Or as a teacher.  A boss. A politician. Not even as a church leader. A bully’s tactics can never be used for kingdom outcomes.

When we are convinced of what we really in Christ, the other stuff we’re fighting for seems so much less important.  So you didn’t get that raise you thought you deserved. Someone stole the parking space out from underneath you.  Your neighbor cuts the flowers from your yard without asking {at least that’s what mine does…}.  Does it really matter beyond the moment?  Will it matter in eternity?

If we listen carefully to the Beatitude of gentleness, I believe we will hear Christ asking, “Are you tired yet? Tired of forcing your way on everyone? Tired of demanding your rights, rather than just doing what’s right?  Will you please entrust your way to My way and rest? Will you stop with all your doing and let me do it? Aren’t you tired yet?

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” ~Psalm 37:5-6.

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