When a wise man lost his head

When I was a child, my parents did not play Christmas music until Thanksgiving Day. That tradition continues in my household. On the other hand, Thanksgiving weekend always saw the appearance of the ceramic manger scene, another tradition I have continued. The manger scene belongs to the twelve days of Christmas, not to the season of Advent. Moreover, the manger scene is historically inaccurate, with the wise men arriving in Bethlehem at the same time as the shepherds. (Matthew 2 records that the wise men found Mary and the child (not newborn infant) in a house in Bethlehem.) The church I attend has solved the later problem by placing the wise men and their camels across the chancel from the manger scene with shepherds, sheep, and other barnyard animals. But my display at home has them all: Jesus in the manger, Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, wise men, and assorted animals.

Most of the scene consists of ceramic pieces made for the family by my mother-in-law some years ago. But two of the angels are Lladro figures. Their colors nicely match the style of the other figures, so we have always included them in the scene.

These ceramic pieces all survived the Cinco de Mayo fire of 2017. Our insurance company paid to have them professionally cleaned. They came back individually wrapped in bubble wrap, each surrounded by a layer of paper. I’ve chosen to keep the same wrappings, although prior to that they were wrapped only in tissue paper and never came to any harm.

But this year, when I checked to make sure I had the right box, the top figure made a clanging sound as I unwrapped it. Seeing that it was one of the Lladro angels, I feared the worst. But when I got the box inside and fully unwrapped the angel, I saw that she had dropped her harp. It had been glued to her hands, and the summer heat must have softened the glue. No harm done, so far.

I continued unwrapping figures and placing them into the scene. Then I came across a piece that had broken, in spite of the bubble wrap and paper protection. I gasped or sighed, I don’t recall which. A voice from the bedroom called, “What’s broken?” I answered, “A wise man lost his head.”

A wise man lost his head. It happens sometimes. In this case it was a clean break and can be repaired with glue. Other times when a wise man loses his head, the damage is not so easily fixed. Insults shouted in a fit of anger are not easily erased. False charges and accusations do not easily fade, even after a sincere apology. One might argue that a truly wise man or woman would never fly off the handle in such a manner, but these things happen. We try to be wise; we try to watch our words. On some occasions, though, we fail.

Christians live under forgiveness. Christ has atoned on the cross for all our sins. Christians also share forgiveness. Jesus told his followers to forgive, not seventy-seven times, or even seventy times seven times (490), but an imaginary number that might as well be translated “seventyleven times.” We remain sinners, living in a sin-polluted world. From time to time, even the best of us lose our heads. Thanks to God’s grace, forgiveness is the glue that puts our heads back where they belong. J.

Salt and light

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Salt and light are both good. The chief value of salt two thousand years ago was that salt preserved food. Jesus suggests that his people have value by preserving this world and enlightening it.

Jesus also warns that we are capable of failure. Salt in his day was not bought pure from stores. Salt came with impurities. As Jesus remarks, if the true salt leaches out of the mixture that is labeled salt, what remains is only gravel. When a lamp is lit and then hidden, that lamp also is useless. God wants us to be useful, not useless. He wants us to benefit the world.

These verses about flavorless salt and hidden light are reminders that Christians can lose their faith. The teaching “once saved; always saved” is not Biblical. (See Ezekiel 33:12-13 and Hebrews 10:26-31.) The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to call us to faith and also to keep us in the one true faith; but when people spurn the Word of God, they starve and destroy the gift of faith. God does not want Christians to live in fear that we might someday lose our faith. The Bible frequently speaks of election—that our salvation depends upon God’s infinite power, not on our weak human powers. But Jesus calls one sin unforgiveable: the sin against the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit calls a person to faith and that person refuses the Spirit’s call, that person has rejected the gift of salvation by grace through faith.

Dead people cannot make themselves alive. Resurrection depends upon a miracle of God. Living people can damage and destroy their lives. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. Through the Word, the Spirit calls us to life. Now we retain our saltiness and keep our light unhidden as we continue to draw strength and power from the Word of God.

We are already blessed. The rewards earned by Jesus belong to us as a gift. We do not have to try to earn them by being good. Why, then, should we bother to do good things? We want to be good so we can be useful to God and can benefit the people around us. As Paul wrote, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Now that we have been rescued from our sins, we are able to accomplish God’s plan for our lives. We also want people to praise the God who has saved us. When we harm others, we bring shame to the name of our Father. If we, as Christians, have a reputation for doing what is wrong, we bring shame to the name of Christ.

Instead, we want to glorify God. We want to be the people we were meant to be. Therefore, we study God’s commandments. We see the things we are told not to do—for example, we are not to murder, we are not to commit adultery, we are not to break our oaths. We see the things we should do—we should give to the needy, we should pray, we should fast. All these things we do, not for ourselves, but to bring glory to God.

Other religions teach the same positive and negative commandments. People all over the world value the same virtues Christians value, because the Law of God is written in their hearts. Mohandas Gandhi agreed with the ethical teachings of Jesus, but Gandhi remained Hindu. He chose not to be a Christian; he did not see Jesus as the unique Son of God or as a Savior. Since the ethical teachings are consistent throughout the religions of the world, we see that we cannot remain salt and light simply by doing the good things Jesus commands and not committing the sins he condemns.

We are not saved by our good works; we are saved by the grace of God. That is not permission to sin. Even though our good deeds do not earn us a place in the kingdom of heaven—even though nonChristians may equal or surpass us in doing good things—we still have a blessing. We belong to Jesus. Therefore, to bring honor to his name, we try to imitate him. To help other people in this world, we try to obey God’s commandments. To try to be the people we were created to be, we try to live up to the high standards of Jesus our Lord. J.

The reviled

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

These words continue the eighth blessing; they are not a new blessing. Perhaps Jesus found it necessary to repeat himself because of the strangeness of what he was saying. How can it be good to be persecuted in the world? When we are on God’s side, shouldn’t we be set free from all worldly troubles and fears? Doesn’t life become easier for those who become Christians? Many people seem to expect an easier life after they come to faith. Disappointment awaits them, as they will learn that Jesus never made such a promise.

Jesus has enemies in the world. The devil, along with all those who follow his ways, fight against Jesus and against the members of his Church. Sometimes even Christians fight against Jesus and his plan for our lives. We struggle to remain faithful to him and to live as he wants us to live. We do not always succeed.

We should not belittle the hardships that Christians face where the persecution is fiercest. They risk all that they have, serving Jesus in countries hostile to the Gospel. But the greatest enemies Christians face are not flesh and blood. Evil is a spiritual power. We are tempted to sin. When we sin, guilt attacks us, perhaps even causing us to doubt God’s love and forgiveness. Sicknesses and accidents and the reality of death may make us question whether God is really taking care of us—we may even doubt that God is really there.

The words of Jesus provide an answer to those questions. Our enemies are his enemies; they are the same enemies faced by God’s people in earlier times. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, when we are meek and merciful, when we try to be peacemakers, some people will hate us and will try to make life miserable for us. The forces of evil oppose us as they opposed Jesus. Life is hard in this world for any person who tries to be like Jesus.

If his enemies are our enemies, then we must be on the right track. Persecution is not the only good news we have, of course. After all, the devil and the world cause lost sinners to suffer; they do not persecute only Christians. When the forces of evil rage against us, though, we know they are angry because we have already been rescued from their power. They resent the eternal life that we will enjoy with God in the new creation. They will do anything they can to try to make us doubt God’s love and the truth of his promises.

When we are under attack, we remember that we are blessed. Christ won a victory over all the forces of evil, and he shares his victory with us. Our reward in heaven is great, because our reward in heaven was earned in our names by the perfect, sinless life of Jesus. By his suffering, Jesus claimed each of us for that reward.

Our problems can remind us of how Jesus suffered to save us. The same enemies that fight us once tried to destroy him. They want to use our problems to trick us into forgetting about Jesus and his promises. When we instead allow our problems to remind us of Jesus and the cross, we are his partners in victory. His enemies lose. J.

Those who are persecuted

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

Some people go door to door sharing their version of religion. Their reputation is not good; they sometimes are persistent to the point of rudeness. When people are rude to them in turn, the visitors congratulate themselves with the thought that they are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. They therefore think that they are earning the blessing of the kingdom of heaven.

Compare this example to the Christians of the early Church who suffered and died for their faith in Jesus Christ. Church historians report that eleven of the twelve apostles were executed for preaching the Christian faith. Peter is said to have been crucified upside down; Paul, we are told, was beheaded. Only John lived to be an old man, and he spent time on Patmos, a prison island.

Persecution did not end with the Roman Empire. Even today some governments persecute their own citizens because they are Christians. Even today people risk persecution for doing no more than attending a Christian worship service. Some risk boldly; others meet secretly. They know that they could lose their jobs, the affection of their family and friends, their freedom, and even their lives because of their faith in Jesus. They continue believing, though. They continue meeting to worship and to pray and to study the Bible. Some of them even dare to share the Gospel with others. They do these things because Jesus gives them more than any earthly power can take away from them.

Being persecuted earns no rewards from God. Those of us who confront only feeble opposition—or no opposition at all—have not lost the blessing of the kingdom of heaven. This gift is ours through the persecution Jesus endured for us from the hands of his enemies: his suffering and death on the cross. He won a victory on that cross, and he shares that victory with us and with all who believe in him. His victory is powerful, so powerful that it helps those who are threatened by poverty or violence because of their faith in Jesus. Their sufferings remind them how Jesus suffered for them. The memory of his cross strengthens them so they can endure suffering and death in Jesus’ name.

Persecution in this world does not guarantee blessings from God. People have suffered and died for bad causes. It does not matter what the world does to us; what matters is what Jesus has done for us. He has blessed us with his kingdom. Nothing in this world can take that blessing from us. J.

Peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

When the Great War ended in 1918, people hoped and longed for peace. The horrors of that war seemed to make future war unthinkable, which is why the Great War was described in the United States as “the war to end all wars.” A League of Nations was created, but the League could not prevent a second World War. The Cold War came quickly on the heels of that war. Even when the Cold War ended at the end of the twentieth century, peace was not established on earth. Hatred and warfare and violence continue to be the pattern humanity follows in the twenty-first century.

Peace is not as interesting as war. If a fight breaks out, people want to know who won. They do not ask whether anyone tried to keep the peace and prevent the fight.

For all the world’s rhetoric about peace, the peacemaker receives very little respect. Even though the Nobel Prize Committee awards a Peace Prize every year, few people acknowledge the individuals who live from day to day trying their best to stay out of fights, striving to get along with other people. Like the person who is meek, the peacemaker is either mocked or ignored in the world. The fighter who wins gains respect and admiration; the peacemaker who avoids a fight is forgotten.

Jesus Christ calls us to live lives of peace. He wants us to be peacemakers. Jesus wants us to imitate him. He entered the world on account of the war between good and evil, and he won the decisive battle for the side that is good. Even so, Jesus did not come to destroy all that is evil. He came to rescue evildoers like us and to claim us for the side that is good. We were enemies of God, but Jesus came to make us God’s friends—and more than friends: Jesus came to make us sons of God.

God has only one Son. Jesus is God’s only-begotten Son, begotten by the Father outside of time and existing with the Father for all eternity. Although the fact that God created us might make us his children, our sins against God have broken the family relationship. We have run away from home; we are no longer worthy to be called God’s children.

Still, God calls us his sons. Because his only-begotten Son gave himself as a sacrifice to pay for our sins, we are reconciled to God. We are now right with him. The death of Jesus pays the cost of our adoption into God’s family. Because the payment was a Son, we are now sons—able to inherit all that Jesus left to us in his death?

What did Jesus leave us? Not money or property in a worldly sense: the only property Jesus owned was the clothing he was wearing, and the soldiers claimed that clothing. What did Jesus leave us? He left us the rewards of a perfect and sinless life: the blessings of God, the guarantee of eternal life in a perfect world, and all the help we need for our lives in this world. Because Jesus died for us, we will inherit the earth. We do not deserve this inheritance. We have not earned it by being meek, or even by being peacemakers. Our inheritance is a blessing: it is God’s gift to us.

We are changed by this gift. God’s blessings shape our lives. Because God calls us his sons, we have peace with God, peace with each other, and peace with the good world God made. Living in the confidence of this promised peace, we also bring that peace to others. We become peacemakers when we refuse to fight over the petty problems of the world. We become peacemakers when we seek peace with others rather than victory over others. We become peacemakers when we share the good news of what Jesus has done, the good news that brings peace. Because God calls us his sons, and because God’s only-begotten Son is the Prince of Peace, we now are peacemakers. J.

The pure in heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Being pure in heart is not easy. Every day we are surrounded by temptations to be impure, to think and say and do things which go against God’s plan for our lives. Marriage and family are under attack. Honesty and courtesy are becoming obsolete. Thoughts about God are pushed to the side—they still have their place, people say, but that place is not first on the list, higher than everything else.

When we confess our sins to God, we describe the wrong things we have done. That is a good start, but it is not enough. The wrong things we planned to do and never got around to doing are also sins, even if something prevented us from accomplishing our plans. Being tempted is not sinful—even Jesus was tempted—but enjoying the temptation is a sin. Spending hours considering what it would be like to do those things we know are wrong is a sin. Our thoughts and minds and hearts are not pure when we use them to live in a world of sin, a world which we do not have the courage (or the opportunity) to enter with our bodies.

We are going to see God! That vision is his blessing, his promise to us, in spite of our sins. Even though our thoughts and plans have not been pure, even though those thoughts and plans have resulted in sinful lives, Jesus has lived and died for us to take away our sins and to promise us eternal life in a new creation. We are going to see God! We will spend eternity with him. These same eyes that have seen the tragedy of sin and evil will also see a world without evil of any kind.

Because we will see God, we want to keep our hearts pure today. We want this, not to earn the blessing (because blessings cannot be earned); we want to keep our hearts pure because of the joy of the blessing. Because we will see God, our lives are different today. Jesus in this sermon will suggest that we would willingly cut off a hand or gouge out an eye if that was the price we needed to pay to keep the blessing of one day seeing God.

We do not need to pay that price. The price has already been paid. Jesus gave his life on the cross so we can see God. But we still sin every day. Our hearts are still impure. Our minds still travel paths that are not acceptable to God. Therefore, we pray the prayer of King David, written in Psalm 51: “Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Every day we sin. Every day we need to be purified and remade. By the power of Christ’s blessing, we have new hearts—pure hearts—and right spirits every day we spend in this sin-polluted world. J.

Now, but not yet

As I have been preparing a series of posts on Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), a question has arisen about the timing of the blessings Jesus describes. Do we have them now, or must we wait until the Day of the Lord to receive these blessings?

The answer, of course, is yes. In one sense we already have these blessings. In another sense we will not fully have them until the Day of the Lord, the Day when Christ is seen in his glory, the dead are raised, the Judgment is announced, and the saints of the Lord are welcomed into the new creation. This “now, but not yet” reality is one of the paradoxes of Christianity. As one God is three Persons, as one Christ is fully divine and fully human, as the Bible is entirely God’s Word—trustworthy and true—and yet entirely was written by human beings, so we already have the blessings Jesus promised, but at the same time we do not have them yet.

As Jesus says in Matthew 25:34—part of the parable that describes Judgment Day—Jesus will welcome the saints into a kingdom prepared for them since the foundation of the world. That’s right: before God said “Let there be light,” he knew all about us and loved us. He knew the sins we would commit and the price he would have to pay to redeem us and reconcile us to himself. He knew the suffering that sin and evil would cause in his creation. And God decided that we are worth the trouble. He went ahead and created. But his blessings were there from the very beginning.

On the other hand, we are still sinners living in a sin-polluted world. We may be meek, but we have not yet inherited the earth. A quick glance at the Internet reveals that we are not living in the kingdom of heaven, where God’s will is always done. Today we do not see God, but in the new creation we will see him continually.

On the other hand, we have already received mercy. We are already called sons of God, because the only Son of God has already paid for our adoption into his family. God looks at us and sees us redeemed. He sees us as his children. He sees us as we will see ourselves after the resurrection, when we have Christ’s blessings in all their fullness.

So the blessings are ours now, but not yet. They belong to us, because Christ has given them to us, and no one can rob us of them. The car is already in the garage, but we do not yet have the keys to be able to drive it. The trust fund is in our names, but we cannot spend any of the money yet.

Like any Christian paradox, we need to cling to both sides of the contradiction. If we doubt that the blessings belong to us now, we are doubting God’s promise. These blessings are an inheritance, and Jesus has already died, so we are already his heirs. On the other hand, if we think that we have the blessings in all their fullness—if we think that things will never be better for us than they are today—then we are disregarding God’s promise. The Day of the Lord has not yet arrived; we are not yet living in the new creation. Our present troubles are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed (Romans 8:28), and that glory will last forever. What we will be is not yet known, but when Christ is seen we will be like him, for we will see him as he is (I John 3:2). We wait eagerly for the new heavens and the new earth to be revealed. J.

The merciful

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

No one earns God’s mercy by first being merciful to others. God always goes first. Likewise, no one earns God’s forgiveness by first forgiving the sins of others. God always goes first. He forgives our sins, and his forgiveness gives the power to forgive those who sin against us.

God’s mercy is a gift. He is merciful to us, even though we do not deserve it. In fact, the word “mercy” requires it to be an undeserved gift. Being kind and generous to people who deserve such things is not mercy; it is justice.

We do not deserve God’s kindness, generosity, and mercy. Even the best of us on our best days falls far short from God’s plan for our lives. We are meant to love God with our whole hearts. We are meant to love everyone around us as much as we love ourselves. When we follow the path of selfishness, greed, envy, hatred, and cruelty, we are failures. We deserve to be punished by God. We deserve to be cast far away from him, condemned to an eternal existence without his love and his help.

God is merciful to us. Although we do not deserve to be forgiven, he forgives us. Although we do not deserve to be rescued, he rescues us. Jesus came to live a perfect life for us, crediting each of us with his goodness and sharing with us the rewards he earned. Jesus took away our guilt, paying our debt in full on the cross. God is too holy to ignore our sins, but in love he transfers them to Jesus, who pays the penalty we never could have paid. On the cross, Jesus gives himself for us. He also fought and won a battle on our behalf—a battle against sin, against evil, and against death. He won the victory single-handedly on the cross; the war against all evil—including the guilt of our sins—was finished that Friday outside Jerusalem (John 19:30). Jesus announced his victory Sunday morning of the same weekend by rising from the dead.

Mercy transfers our guilt to Jesus. Mercy transfers his rewards to us. Mercy makes us able to share His victory, in spite of the fact that he won that victory alone. Mercy renews forgiveness and Christ’s victory in our lives every day, even though we continue to sin every day.

God’s mercy changes us. Because he loves us, we can love others. Because he forgives all our sins, we can forgive those who sin against us. Because he has mercy on us, we can be merciful. If it were necessary for us to love first, to forgive first, to show mercy first before God can bless us, his blessing would never come to us. Because God has already blessed us, we now have the power to be like him. Those who are truly merciful, Jesus says, are the ones who have already been changed by the mercy with which God has blessed them. J.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

Clearly hunger and thirst are not blessings; the blessing is in the satisfaction, in being filled. Hunger and thirst are not virtues that earn food and drink. Food and drink are the gift, the blessing. Hunger and thirst are qualities found in those who receive the gift.

In the other blessings, the gift is described as the kingdom of heaven, comfort, inheriting the earth, receiving mercy, seeing God, and being called sons of God. Taken together, all these blessings are fulfilled in the new creation Jesus will provide his people. We will inherit the earth upon the resurrection of the body and the start of life everlasting; we do not inherit it today. All these blessings come to us through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. His promise, though, contains more than “pie in the sky, by and by.” We are blessed today; the gift of what will be when Christ returns in glory will come to us in all its fullness on that Day, but bits and pieces of that glory sparkle in our lives today.

Smells flow from the kitchen, as it were, and sample tastes are allowed by the Master Chef. These bits of grace whet our appetites for the coming feast. The comfort and the mercy we receive now prepares us for the peace and joy of the coming kingdom, when we inherit the earth because we belong to Christ. We know that at that time perfect righteousness will guide all the people living on this world; therefore, we long to see righteousness at work in the world today.

The world contains people who do not know Christ yet still fight for certain things that are right and good. Our confidence in Christ does not allow us to sit back and avoid the fight for what is right. Being meek does not include accepting evil, abetting it by our silence. Instead, being people who know the difference between right and wrong—also being people who know that right will prevail in the end—we have an even greater desire to fight on behalf of what is right today.

We are meek. We do not fight for our rights; we fight for that which is truly right. We stand for Jesus and for his principles. We defend the truth, acting out of love. Sometimes the fight involves providing food for the hungry, clothing for the poor, and shelter for the homeless. Sometimes the fight involves striving against crime and violence and injustice. Sometimes we battle the lies of the devil and of the world. We use the resources we have (given to us by God) to make the world a better place. Different Christians respond to different needs. We do not always agree about what needs to be done first. We share faith in Jesus, we share love for Jesus, and therefore we share love for the people Jesus loves. We have a passionate appetite—a hunger and a thirst—for seeing the right things being done in the world today.

We cannot perfect the world. Our best efforts make the world only a little better. Having a hunger and thirst for righteousness means that we are willing to struggle and strive for that slight improvement. Meanwhile, we know that the full blessing is just around the corner. The world will be remade and perfected one Day, not by our efforts, but as a gift from God. Jesus already has done everything necessary to guarantee that perfect new world to us and to all who trust his promises. We will be satisfied. Therefore, we are hungry today. J.

The meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

To be meek is not to be weak. A weak person might be weak because he or she has no other choice, but one who chooses to be meek is probably not weak. It takes great inner strength to be meek.

To be meek means to be willing to let others be in control. Meek is the opposite of brash: a brash person is always trying to be in control and to make people do things his or her way. Various insults characterize people who are brash and not meek, because brash people are not well-liked. Yet other people have coined insults for the meek. In this world, people are urged to assert themselves, to demand their rights, and to refuse to be pushed around by others. Those who do not behave this way are sometimes called spineless wimps, lacking in self-esteem, and deserving to be victims since they do not demand the respect they deserve.

It takes great inner strength to be meek when one is strong. Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was tried by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate and Herod, he was mistreated by the Temple guards and by Roman soldiers, and he was mocked while hanging on the cross. At any step along the way, Jesus could have freed himself and taken revenge on his enemies. He chose not to fight or to seek revenge because he had a greater plan in mind. He was working to free sinners. Because he was meek to be our Savior and our Redeemer, Christians now are called to imitate Jesus; we are called to be meek.

Forcing people to do things our way and taking revenge on those who don’t is not the path chosen by those who follow Jesus Christ. We are called to exercise self-control rather than trying to control others. We are taught by God to be strong enough to be meek.

How is it possible to be meek like Christ? Holy meekness results from the blessing promised by Christ, the assurance that we will inherit the earth. A Day is coming when the world will be melted in fire and remade (II Peter 3:10). The world will be restored to its original perfection. Only those who are right with God through Christ will be citizens of that new creation. The new creation is his kingdom; because of his loving generosity, it will be our home as well.

We do not earn a place in the new creation by being meek. Jesus describes our reception of the world as an inheritance. His blessing is a gift, guaranteed to us through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He bought the world with his blood and with his life; but through his death on the cross we inherit what belongs to him. Knowing that we possess this inheritance changes us today. No longer do we care to be involved in the petty disputes of the present world. Our minds are on higher things. We do not mind being meek today, even if our meekness causes us to suffer today, because a better world already belongs to us.

Being meek, though, does not mean that we do nothing. We hunger and thirst for righteousness, and we are peacemakers: we are active in this world, active on the side of good. We fight for what is right. We defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not fight for ourselves. Like Jesus, we are willing to be meek today because of the greater victory that has already been won. J.