Running Toward the God Who Is Running to Us

Have you ever noticed how persistent God is when seeking a relationship with His people? He went looking for Adam and Eve in the garden after they’d sinned and hidden from Him (Gen. 3:8-9). He called to little Samuel four times to make sure He got his attention (1 Sam. 3:1-10). He helped Elijah do great things then followed him into hiding to speak reassurance in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:1-8). He portrays Himself through the prophets as Israel’s husband, who loved her so much that He kept seeking a restored relationship even when she was unfaithful (Hos. 1-3). He’s the Father in Jesus’s parable who runs out to meet his prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24). God consistently makes active moves to initiate, deepen, and restore relationship.

This is a really good thing for us. How would we dare come before Almighty Yahweh, the Creator of the Universe, unless He wanted us there? Though we haven’t done anything to deserve His attention or desire, He makes it very clear that He wants us. He also makes it clear that His choice to seek relationship with us comes with an invitation for us to seek Him just as fervently.

Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

Hebrews 4:14-16, NET

Over and over, God calls people into relationship with Him. He’s so serious about building relationships that Jesus died in order to ransom us from sin and make a close, familial relationship between humans and God possible for all eternity. He will never run away or abandon us (John 10:12-15), and so we ought to run toward Him.

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Running To God

This idea of us running to God isn’t mentioned very often in scripture. It does, however, appear several times in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament writings. It seems that “running to God” is similar to the idea of boldly approaching Him, but there are a few other meanings as well. For example, in these two verses the focus is on running to God for protection:

Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord.
I run to you for protection.

Psalm 143:8, NET

Yahweh’s name is a strong tower:
the righteous run to him, and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10, WEB

Scripture also talks about people running toward God in response to His call. Isaiah talks about nations running to God. Similarly, in John’s gospel, he records that the Pharisees recognized “running” as the way people responded to Jesus (even if they didn’t think to link it with this scripture in Isaiah).

“Behold, you shall call a nation that you don’t know;
and a nation that didn’t know you shall run to you,
because of Yahweh your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel;
for he has glorified you.”

Isaiah 55:5, WEB

Thus the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you can do nothing. Look, the world has run off after him!”

John 12:19, NET

Like the people Isaiah prophesied about and those whose devotion to Jesus worried the Pharisees so much, we also ought to run to God. When He calls us, we ought to respond eagerly. When we’re in trouble, He should be the first person we turn to. This topic makes me think of a song I first heard shortly after I started attending a Messianic congregation. I think music is one of the best ways to engage our whole selves in our relationships with God, so here’s the song, if you’re interested in listening to it:

Running With Faith

The Bible also talks about a specific way that we’re supposed to run. In this sense, “run” is used as a metaphor for how we live as Christians. Paul in particular uses this analogy several times to talk about how he lived and how we ought to live (1 Cor. 9.24-26; Gal. 2:2; 5:7; Phil. 2:16). Staying in a close, faithful relationship with God our entire lives requires the same commitment, endurance, and perseverance as running a race.

Therefore let’s also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2, WEB

This type of running isn’t something we do on our own. God runs to us, so we run to God, and then we run the race that is our lives together with Him.

Those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength.
They will mount up with wings like eagles.
They will run, and not be weary.
They will walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31, WEB

Running To The Right Thing

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There are a lot of things that we could run to other than God. Many of us ran toward the things of the word in times past, or currently struggle with keeping on-track running toward God. Even when we are running properly in a God-ward direction, people in the world around us will “think it is strange that you don’t run with them into the same excess of riot, blaspheming” (1 Pet. 4:1-6, WEB). The more we align ourselves correctly as we run toward God, the more it will look the the world as if we’re running in a very strange direction.

As Christians today, we should ask ourselves questions like the ones my dad brought up when I shared this study with him. “How can I run to God today? How can I draw near to Him? How can I become more like Him?” Those are the sorts of things which ought to be our focus as we discipline ourselves to run our race of faith the way Paul talked of in 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Philippians: with self-control, with purpose, and with perseverance.

God runs to us. He persistently pursues a relationship with us because of His great love and desire to have us in His family. We also can run to God, boldly seeking Him out for protection and simply because we love Him. The more we run toward Him, the stronger our relationship will be and the less we’ll care about how odd our choice to pursue the things of God looks to the world. Then, as we stay close to God, we receive strength to keep running “the race set before us” without getting tired or discouraged.

Featured image by David Mark from Pixabay

Holding on to Our Joy in the Lord

We don’t often give the minor prophets much attention, beyond telling the story of Jonah or studying some sections if you’re curious about future and fulfilled prophecies. I find, though, that when I do study them or run across a verse from one in word searches that their messages are often surprisingly relevant for today. The section of a minor prophet’s book to most recently catch my eye is a verse at the end of Habakkuk.

The short book of Habakkuk records an exchange between the prophet and God, then ends with a psalm/prayer. At the beginning, Habakkuk looked at the nation around him and cried out to the Lord about how “the law lacks power, and justice is never carried out” (Hab. 1:4, NET). He wants God to intervene and make things right, as so many of us want today. However, when God answers it is not the way Habakkuk hoped or expected. God says He’s going to “empower the Babylonians” (Hab. 1:6) to take over Israel.

Habakkuk is so horrified that he argues with God (Hab. 1:12-2:1). God is not obligated to explain Himself to people, yet in this case he does. He talks about how people of integrity ought to live (“the righteous will live by his faith,” see Hab 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), and contrasts how He relates to those people with what awaits the wicked. He proclaims, “Woe!” to those who’ve rejected Him and promises that “recognition of the Lord’s sovereign majesty will fill the earth” (Hab. 2:14, NET). It’s quite a lengthy response (Hab. 2:2-20), and Habakkuk seems satisfied with it since the next part of the book is a prayer, likely set to music, praising God. That’s where we’ll focus today.

Receiving Good and Evil from the Lord

Earlier, Habakkuk protested the Lord’s plan to punish His people, but now after talking with God the prophet’s perspective changed. In the prayer recorded at the end of this short book, there’s an odd mix of talking about destruction and salvation. People today often struggle to reconcile the idea of a God that would allow suffering with a God that is salvation, deliverance, and love. Habakkuk doesn’t seem to have that trouble.

Yahweh, I have heard of your fame.
I stand in awe of your deeds, Yahweh.
Renew your work in the middle of the years.
In the middle of the years make it known.
In wrath, you remember mercy. …

Plague went before him,
and pestilence followed his feet.
He stood, and shook the earth.
He looked, and made the nations tremble. …

You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the land of wickedness.
You stripped them head to foot. Selah.

Habakkuk 3:2, 5-6, 13, WEB

This reminds me of a question Job asked his wife: “Should we not receive what is good from God and not also receive what is evil?” (Job 2:10, NET). If we believe God is sovereign and that He is responsible for all the good things that happen in our lives, then we ought to trust Him through the bad things as well. There could be something going on that we don’t know about, such as Job suffering as part of God showing that one man’s faith, tested by fire, could make a cosmic difference. Or maybe God is punishing an unfaithful nation and we get caught up in that even though we’re faithful, as happened here with Habakkuk. Or maybe He’s allowing suffering in order to test, refine, and strengthen us (which is the context that the New Testament writers usually mean when they talk about God testing or trying us. See, for example, 1 Pet. 1:6-8; 4:12-13). Whatever the reason for the suffering, the message Habakkuk holds onto is that God is still worthy of trust. He has a plan. He will take salvation action. The timing for that might not make sense to us (yet), but that does not cancel-out the fact that we can have faith in the Lord’s plan and His goodness.

Holding on to Joy

At the end of the prayer, Habakkuk voices some very understandable nervousness. He talks of trembling, knowing that he “must wait quietly for the day of trouble, for the coming of the people who will invade us” (Hab. 3:17, WEB). He has talked with God about what will happen in the future, accepted the Lord’s response, and decided to trust. He is still nervous, but then he makes a very powerful statement of radical faith.

For though the fig tree doesn’t flourish,
nor fruit be in the vines;
the labor of the olive fails,
the fields yield no food;
the flocks are cut off from the fold,
and there is no herd in the stalls:
yet I will rejoice in Yahweh.
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
Yahweh, the Lord, is my strength.
He makes my feet like deer’s feet,
and enables me to go in high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19, WEB

Even if the food supply collapses and the country is overrun by invaders, Habakkuk intends to rejoice. He is not rejoicing because those bad things happen, but because they have no power to take away the true cause of Habakkuk’s joy. God is sovereign! He is salvation and strength! That’s not going to change, and holding on to that truth lets us rejoice in Him and claim Him as our savior. No matter what comes, we can imitate Habakkuk’s faith and boldly say, “I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Looking for Jesus in All the Right Places

When Jesus was 12 years old, he and His “parents went to Jerusalem … for the Feast of the Passover,” as they did every year in obedience to the instructions in God’s law (Luke 2:41-42). After the Passover and the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot), his parents went a whole day’s journey home before realizing Jesus wasn’t with the traveling group and they’d lost the Son of God in Jerusalem. They went back, and searched for three days before finding Him in the temple. When Mary chided Him for making them so anxious, Jesus said they should have been able to figure out where He was.

But he replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Luke 2:49, NET

I wonder how many times when we’re running around anxiously wondering, “Where’s God when I need Him?” that we’re also looking in the wrong places. The “right place” isn’t a physical location, though; there isn’t an easy-to-find landmark spot for us to start our search like the temple in Jerusalem where Mary and Joseph found Jesus. For us, the task of looking for Jesus is both much simpler (because He is available anywhere) and also in some ways more challenging (since it’s not just about going to a certain place and doing a certain thing).

Seeking the Father and Son

A more literal translation of Jesus’s words to His parents would be, “Didn’t you know that I must be about the things of my Father?” (TLV). The “verse involves an idiom that probably refers to the necessity of Jesus being involved in the instruction about God” (NET footnote), which I suspect is why the Complete Jewish Bible opts for the translation, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be concerning myself with my Father’s affairs?” The reason that so many modern translations say, “in my Father’s house” is because “the most widely held view today takes” the idiom used here “as a reference to the temple as the Father’s house” (NET footnote).

Whichever translation we think is correct, the basic meaning is the same. Jesus could be found associated with the things God was doing in the location where people who follow God gather. Even today, it is true that if we want to connect with God that is often easiest to do when associating ourselves with other believers. That’s not the only thing that’s involved in searching for Jesus or the Father, though.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 6:44, NET

Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6, NET

We need the Father to open our eyes and invite us into the family if we want to get to Jesus, and then it’s through Jesus that we’re given access to God the Father at a level of intimacy that people who lived before Christ came in the flesh never had and relatively few people have today. Jesus and the Father are welcoming us into their oneness (John 17) and when we faithfully follow the Son, we have a relationship with the Father as well (1 John 2:22-24). We must seek Them both together.

The Temple of God Today

Back when 12-year-old Jesus went missing, He could be found at the temple. However, “the God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands” (Acts 17:24, NET), especially now that the veil separating the holy places of God and regular people is done away through Christ (Matt. 27:50-51; Eph. 2:13-19). Now, we are the temple of God.

For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:16, NET quoting Lev.26:11-12

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

1 Corinthians 3:16, NET

These verses tell us two things. One: if we are called by God to be part of His church and we’ve accepted that invitation, we are part of God’s temple and His spirit lives in each of us. Two: all the believers together make up God’s temple today (“you” is plural in Greek; “temple” is singular). If we’re seeking Jesus, we need to seek Him on both an individual and a cooperative level. The Lord wants to live in the midst of His people (Zec. 2:10-13), and being able to build each other up as we seek the Lord together is one of the most important reasons for God’s people to gather as a community of faith (Heb. 10:19-25). That community could be just “two or three assembled” in the Lord’s name (Matt. 18:20), or it could be a church group of hundreds.

Invited to be with the Lord

When Jesus was here on earth, He issued invitations to come to Him, seek Him, and become His friends. They’re not the first invitations from the Lord either; Jesus was making God more widely accessible, but God has always wanted relationships. Those same invitations are still open today, echoing down through thousands of years.

Pay attention and come to me.
Listen, so you can live.
Then I will make [an eternal covenant with] you,
just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David.

Seek the Lord while he makes himself available;
call to him while he is nearby!

Isaiah 55:3, 6, NET (with footnote translation for v. 3)
Looking for Jesus in All the Right Places | LikeAnAnchor.com
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Most of the Lord’s instructions for seeking Him involve “how” not “where.” We’re told to seek “diligently” (Prov. 8:17), with “prayer and worship” (Jer. 29:13), and “with all your heart and soul” (Deut. 4:29; 1 Chr. 28:9). And we ought to do this persistently and repeatedly, too–ask, and keep on asking; seek, and keep on seeking; knock, and keep on knocking (Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10). But no matter how persistent you are, you’re also going to have trouble finding Him if you’re not looking in the right places.

We learn about God primarily through His word and His spirit, so it’s important to seek Him in the pages of the Bible and ask for understanding. There’s no substitute for reading God’s words (or listening ; I know several people who learn best from audio Bibles). We also learn about Him, and how to be like Him, though interactions with other believers. We are each part of God’s temple, but we’re not the only part and if at all possible it’s vital that we stay in contact with other Christians. So the next time you feel yourself wondering, “Where is God?” try looking in His word, seeking Him in prayer, and/or talking with a fellow believer. It may feel like it takes a while before He responds, but if we seek Him the way He tells us to in the places where He says He can be found, God will not fail to let us find Him.

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Drawn To God

My new favorite Bible Study tool is the New English Translation with its 60,000+ translator’s notes. As I was perusing the pages (you can get a print version or access the whole thing for free online), I noticed the translation notes on Song of Songs take up more space than the actual text. Apparently, not only is this text’s interpretation widely debated, but it is also notoriously difficult to translate. As you might know if you’ve read some of my other posts or my short book God’s Love Story, I favor the interpretation that the Song is both a celebration of human love and an allegory of Christ’s love for the church. With that in mind, here’s one of the verses with a footnote that I found intriguing:

Draw me[a] after you; let us hurry!
May the king bring me into his bedroom chambers!

[note a] The verb מָשַׁךְ (mashakh, “draw”) is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) which draws an implied comparison between the physical acting of leading a person with the romantic action of leading a person in love. Elsewhere it is used figuratively of a master gently leading an animal with leather cords (Hos 11:4) and of a military victor leading his captives (Jer 31:3). The point of comparison might be that the woman wants to be the willing captive of the love of her beloved, that is, a willing prisoner of his love.

Song of Songs 1:4, NET

Another translation for mawshak in this verse is “Take me away with you” (NIV, WEB). There are nuances of meaning for this Hebrew word (as the NET footnote points out), but the basic one is “to draw, drag, seize” (Brown–Driver–Briggs; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). Here in Song, and in a few other places as well, it can be understood as “entice, allure, woo” (TWOT). In those verses, it is connected with one of the many pictures God gives us for relating to Him–as a lover alluring, wooing, and drawing His bride to Himself.

Alluring us with Love, Kindness and Grace

Hosea is one of the books that makes the analogy of God as bridegroom and husband most clearly. God instructs the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute because ancient Israel “continually commits spiritual prostitution by turning away form the Lord” (Hos 1:2, NET). God used Hosea’s marriage and his writings to teach that, even though Israel was unfaithful, God still promised “in the future I will allure her,” and then “you will call, ‘My husband’; you will never again call me, ‘My master'” (Hos. 2:14, 16, NET).

Later in Hosea, God talks about how He “drew” (mawshak) Israel out of Egypt “with leather cords” (NET), “with cords of a man” (KJV), or “cords of human kindness” (NIV). Though the NET presents a compelling case for the “leather” translation, I favor “human kindness” because it connects more strongly to the overall theme of God wooing His people that is found so often in Hosea. It would also echo the language God uses in Jeremiah 31:3.

Yahweh appeared of old to me, saying, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.”

Jeremiah 31:3, WEB

Alternate translations for this passage include “That is why I have continued to be faithful to you” (NET), “That is why I have drawn you to myself through my unfailing kindness” (NET footnote), and “This is why in my grace I draw you to me” (CJB). God’s drawing of us to Himself is prompted by His everlasting love, and it is done with faithfulness and kindness.

Longing for God to Satisfy Us

The time Jeremiah speaks of when God draws His people to Him is followed by a time “when watchmen will call out … ‘Come! Let us go to Zion to worship the Lord our God!’” (31:6, NET). Those who claim the Lord as their God are eager to be drawn, rescued, and gathered by Him (Jer. 31:7-9). Their response here is much like the Beloved in Song of Songs–take me away! draw me after you!–and like that of David in this psalm.

How precious is your loving kindness, God!
The children of men take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They shall be abundantly satisfied with the abundance of your house.
You will make them drink of the river of your pleasures.
For with you is the spring of life.
In your light we will see light.
Oh continue (mawshak) your loving kindness to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:7-10, WEB

We can find all we need to satisfy us in the great One who loves us, the Lord our God. We can call on Him to draw us closer, and He will faithfully respond to our longing for Him.

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The Beatitudes, Part Four: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst For Righteousness

I’m trying to remember the last time I heard someone use the word “righteous” in a positive way, outside of a sermon or a Bible-study discussion. Most of the time in the modern world, this word is paired with “self-righteous” and used as an insult. Righteousness, like many other character traits that are closely associated with God, is not really seen as a good thing in today’s society.

As with many of the traits Jesus talked about in the Beatitudes, though, God has a different view on this than the world does. he says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6, all quotes from WEB translation). As we talked about in the second post of this series, “blessed” means fully satisfied by God, which is a very concrete image when we talk about feeding someone who’s hungry. 

Filled With More Than Food

This fourth Beatitude is not the only time God uses imagery of filling His people’s hunger to make a larger point about what we desire and how we relate to Him.

“Hey! Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in richness.” (Is. 55:1-2)

God is committed to filling our needs with good things. The same word used in “they shall be filled” is used for the people who ate loaves and fishes after Jesus multiplied food for the multitudes (Matt. 14:20; 15:37). It means filled to satisfaction, even gorged, on abundant food (G5526, chortazo). But, as we have seen, He doesn’t stop at physical food and drink.

Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

The satisfaction that Jesus and the Father offer for our hunger and thirst goes far deeper than one meal. They are filling us with their holy spirit; with their power and presence.

Craving Righteousness

The people spoken of in this beatitude are hungry and thirsty for a specific thing: righteousness. Though its importance is overlooked or scorned at by the world, righteousness is a pivotal concept for the people of God. Later in this same sermon, Jesus says, “seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). There is a blessing in this seeking, for God promises to fill us with more than “just” righteousness.

and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph. 4:23-24)

When we seek for God to fill us, He responds by sharing all His character traits with us. He’s making us part of His family, and growing in righteousness is a key part of that.

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:29)

We all know that having a close relationship with God is a central part of our Christian faith, and becoming like Him is a core part of that. He does not expect us to get things right all the time, but He does expect us to keep growing and learning and trying to be like Him. To do that, we need to actively practice His character traits, including righteousness, which is defined as having integrity, virtue, and “correctness of thinking,” all while living in a way that is “acceptable to God” (G1343, dikaiosune, Thayer’s dictionary).

Hunger For God

Hungering and thirsting after righteousness is essentially a hunger and thirst for God. One of His Hebrew names is Yahweh Tsidquenu — Yahweh our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6; 33:16). Along these same lines, Paul wrote that Jesus “was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). It is in Him that we can “become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Phil. 1:11)

Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” When He fills our hunger and thirst for righteousness — for Him — He makes us capable of producing righteousness as well. Our Father is glorified when we bear much fruit (John 15:18), and that includes the fruits of His righteous character. As we commit to seeking Him and His righteousness, He will fill our desire to draw nearer to Him.

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The Beatitudes, Part Three: Blessed Are The Gentle

Gentleness is not seen as a strength in today’s world. The meek and mild aren’t the ones who do well; they’re the ones other people walk all over. You gotta toughen up if you want to stay alive. To quote Mordred from the musical Camelot, “It’s not the earth the meek inherit, it’s the dirt.”

God doesn’t think like that, though. Gentleness is a trait He commends as godly, useful, and blessed. And it’s not, “blessed are the gentle, for I’ll protect them from their own weakness” or “blessed are the gentle for they’ll do no harm.” Nope. It’s a promise that those who use their power gently will receive an incredible inheritance.

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5, all quotes from WEB version)

Using Power Gently

The Greek word translated “gentle” here and “meek” in the King James Version is praus (G4239). Of this and the closely related word prautes (G4239), Spiros Zodhiates says that it’s an “attitude of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute nor resist.” He also references Aristotle as saying the word represents a balance between two extremes: “getting angry without reason” and “never getting angry at all.” Praus is hard to translate because English doesn’t really have a word for gentleness expressed in power, not weakness, but that’s what this word means (Key Word Study Bible).

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29)

Balanced power perfectly submitted to God is a key characteristic of Christ as a meek and gentle person. It’s not really all that commendable if you’re gentle when you’re also incapable of causing harm — you have no choice but to be harmless. But when you have power and you choose to use it gently, that truly means something.

Strength in Weakness

For us, being filled with the power of Jesus Christ is connected to having a submitted spirit. We submit any power we have to Him (while also recognizing our weakness and spiritual helplessness). Then we receive power, which we continue submitting to God by using it in the same way our gentle, meek, Savior would.

He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, and in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

It’s incredible to think that power lies in weakness, meekness, and gentleness. That doesn’t make sense from a human perspective, but God specializes in doing things that seem impossible. All the Beatitudes fly in the face of what “makes sense,” and yet God works works even through situations where we seem powerless or hopeless. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” who recognize their own spiritual helplessness. “Blessed are those who mourn,” who take their helplessness and griefs to the God who fully satisfies our needs. And now, “Blessed are the gentle,” who use the power they receive by going to God in a right and proper way.

Heirs to the Kingdom

The idea of inheritance is a key component of the covenants God makes with people. We are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” because we’ve received the spirit of adoption from God (Rom. 8:14-17).

giving thanks to the Father, who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. (Col. 1:12-14)

Our inheritance is connected with Christ’s saving power, God’s holy spirit inside us, and with our gentleness. When a certain lawyer asked Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him to keep the law, and expanded on how to love your neighbor with the parable of the good Samaritan. His final instruction to this young lawyer was to tell him to emulate the one person in this story who used the power they had to care for and serve someone else (Luke 10:25-37).

Similarly, the people to whom Jesus will say, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” are the ones who used their power in gentle ways. They fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, took in strangers, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and went to those in prison (Matt. 25:34-40). God cares a great deal about how we use the power we have to interact with the people around us, and He will count those who are gentle among the heirs of His kingdom.

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