Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part XXIII

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Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Christian Meekness

We are now got to the third step leading in the way to blessedness, Christian meekness. ‘Blessed are the meek’. See how the Spirit of God adorns ‘the hidden man of the heart, with a multiplicity of graces! The workmanship of the Holy Spirit is not only astonishing—but various. He makes the heart meek, pure, peaceable etc. The graces therefore are compared to fine needlework, which is intricate and various in its textures and colors (Psalm 45:14). In the words there is the duty of meekness—and that duty like the dove, brings an olive leaf in the mouth of it—’they shall inherit the earth’.

The proposition I shall insist on, is that meek people are blessed people. For the right understanding of this, we must know there is a twofold meekness. Meekness towards God, meekness towards man.


1. Meekness towards GOD, which implies two things: submission to his will; flexibleness to his Word.

[1] Submission to God’s WILL: when we react calmly, without swelling or murmuring, under the adverse dispensations of providence. ‘It is the Lord’s will. Let him do what he thinks best’ (1 Samuel 3:18). The meek-spirited Christian says thus: ‘Let God do what he will with me, let him carve out whatever condition he pleases, I will submit.’ God sees what is best for me, whether a fertile soil or a barren. Let him chequer his work as he please, it suffices that God has done it. It was an unmeek spirit in the prophet to struggle with God: ‘I do well to be angry to the death!’ (Jonah 4:9).

[2] Flexibleness to God’s WORD: when we are willing to let the Word bear sway in our souls and become pliable to all its laws and maxims. He is spiritually meek who conforms himself to the mind of God, and does not quarrel with the instructions of the Word—but with the corruptions of his heart. Cornelius’ speech to Peter savored of a meek spirit: ‘Now here we are, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you’ (Acts 10:33). How happy is it when the Word which comes with majesty, is received with meekness! (James 1:21).

2. Meekness towards MAN. Basil calls this ‘the indelible character of a gracious soul.’ ‘Blessed are the meek’. To illustrate this, I shall show what this meekness is. Meekness is a grace whereby we are enabled by the Spirit of God to moderate our angry passions. It is a grace. The philosopher calls it a virtue—but the apostle calls it a grace, and therefore reckons it among the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:23). It is of a divine extract and original. By it we are enabled to moderate our passion. By nature the heart is like a troubled sea, casting forth the foam of anger and wrath. Now meekness calms the passions. It sits as moderator in the soul, quieting and giving check to its distempered motions. As the moon serves to temper and allay the heat of the sun, so Christian meekness allays the heat of passion. Meekness of spirit not only fits us for communion with God—but for civil converse with men; and thus among all the graces it holds first place. Meekness has a divine beauty and sweetness in it. It brings credit to true religion; it wins upon all. This meekness consists in three things: the bearing of injuries, the forgiving of injuries, the recompensing good for evil.

1. First, meekness consists in the BEARING of injuries. I may say of this grace, ‘it is not easily provoked’. A meek spirit, like wet tinder, will not easily take fire. ‘Those who seek my hurt spoke mischievous things—but I, as a deaf man, heard not’ (Psalm 38:12, 13). Meekness is ‘the bridle of anger’. The passions are fiery and headstrong; meekness gives check to them. Meekness ‘bridles the mouth’, it ties the tongue to its good behavior. Meekness observes that motto, Bear and forbear. There are four things opposite to meekness.

[1] Meekness is opposed to ANGER. ‘Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools’ (Ecclesiastes 7:9). When the heart boils in passion, and anger (as Seneca says) sparkles forth in the eye, this is far from meekness. ‘Anger resides in the lap of fools’. Anger may be in a wise man—but it residesin a fool. The angry man is like gunpowder. No sooner do you touch him but he is all on fire. Seneca calls anger ‘a short fit of madness’. Sometimes it suspends the use of reason.

How unfitting is rash anger! How it disguises and disfigures! As Plato counseled the great revellers and drinkers of his time, that they should view themselves in a glass when they were in their drunken humor, and they would appear loathsome to themselves, so let a man disguised with passion view himself in the glass, and sure he would ever after be out of love with himself. ‘The face swells with anger, the veins become black with blood’. ‘Let not the sun go down upon your anger, neither give place to the devil’ (Ephesians 4:26, 27). Oh, says one, ‘he has wronged me and I will never give place to him!’ But better give place to him than to the devil. An angry spirit is not a meek spirit. Not but that we may in some cases be angry. There is a holy anger. Only that anger is without sin—which is against sin. Meekness and zeal may stand together. In matters of religion, a Christian must be clothed with the spirit of Elijah, and be ‘full of the fury of the Lord’ (Jeremiah 6:11). Christ was meek (Matt. 11:29)—yet zealous (John 2:14, 15). The zeal of God’s house ate him up.

[2] Meekness is opposed to MALICE. Malice is the devil’s picture (John 8:44). Malice is mental murder (1 John 3:15). It unfits for duty. How can such a man pray? I have read of two men who lived in malice, who being asked how they could say the Lord’s prayer, one answered, he thanked God there were many good prayers besides. The other answered, when he said the Lord’s prayer he left out those words, ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us’. But Augustine brings in God replying, ‘Because you do not say my prayer, I will not hear yours’. Were it not a sad judgement if all that a man ate should turn to poison! To a malicious man all the holy ordinances of God turn to poison. ‘The table of the Lord, is a snare; ‘he eats and drinks his own damnation’. A malicious spirit is not a meek spirit

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