How The Meek Inherit The Earth (Now)

girl meek at peace enjoying outside

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

—Matthew 5:5

We cannot see the world as God means it in the future, save as our souls are characterized by meekness. In meekness, we are its only inheritors. Meekness alone makes the spiritual retina pure to receive God’s things as they are, mingling with them neither imperfection nor impurity.  

—George MacDonald

What did Jesus mean when He promised that the meek would “inherit the land”?

It must include heaven: “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells,” (2 Peter 3:13). But as I research the last chapters of the meekness book, I’m starting to see that the inheritance starts here and now.

Here are three ways the meek may inherit this present earth.

1. The meek inherit the earth when they enjoy what they have. 

This side of heaven, we may have little. But it is still the abundant life that Jesus came to bring (John 10:10). Matthew Henry explained that the meek, “inherit the earth in that they are sure to have as much of it as is good for them: as much as will serve to bear them through this world to a better; and who would covet more? Enough is as good as a feast.” 

To the meek, everyday mercies appear as wonders. The sunset and the rain, the laughter of a child and the breeze on your face, good sleep and sweet tastes—to receive these with wonder is part of the inheriting promise of meekness. The meek have that “pure spiritual retina” that allows them “to receive God’s things as they are.” They are not blind to God’s gifts. Thus, as Matthew Henry wrote, they “have the most comfortable, undisturbed enjoyment of themselves, their friends, their God.” They trace the Father’s hand in the common grace that others take for granted. 

The meek man is thankful, happy, and content, and it is contentment that makes life enjoyable,” C.H. Spurgeon wrote that in a sermon on the meek. Then he told this story,

Here comes a man home to his dinner; he bows his head, and says, “Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful,” then opens his eyes, and grumbles, “What! Cold mutton again?” His spirit is very different from that of the good old Christian who, when he reached home, found two herrings and two or three potatoes on the table, and pronounced over them this blessing, ‘Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have ransacked both earth and sea to find us this food.’ His dinner was not as good as the other man’s, but he was content with it, and that made it better. 

The meek soul is pleased with whatever God is pleased to give. We inherit the earth as we learn to say, What pleases God must not displease me. The meek inherit the earth when they enjoy what they have.

The meek man is thankful, happy, and content, and it is contentment that makes life enjoyable.

C.H. Spurgeon

2. The meek inherit the earth when they enjoy even what they do not own. 

I enjoy gardens and pools and boats. But, apart from a few patches of shade-loving flowers, I don’t own any of them. Yet I relish summertime in my parents’ huge gardens, my friend’s ski boat, and another friend’s pool. I don’t own the garden, pool, or boat. But I enjoy them.

Izaak Walton lived in 16th-century England and wrote,  

I could sit there quietly, and look at the waters and see fishes leaping at flies of several shapes and colors. Looking down the meadows, I could see a boy gathering lilies and and a girl cropping columbines and cowslips […] As I thus sat, enjoying my own happy condition, I did remember what my Saviour said, that the meek inherit the earth.

This kind of enjoyment is not mooching. It is humble, thankful meekness. I borrow again from Spurgeon,

Even the possessions of other men make these people glad. They are like the man who met a mandarin in China covered with jewels, and, bowing to him, said, “Thank you for those jewels.” Doing this many times, at last the mandarin asked the cause of his gratitude. “Well,” said the poor but wise man, “I thank you that you have those jewels, for I have as good a sight of them as you have; but I have not the trouble of wearing them, putting them on in the morning, taking them off at night, and having a watchman keeping guard over them when I am asleep. I thank you for them; they are as much use to me as they are to you.

The meek inherit the earth when they freely enjoy what they don’t own. 

3. The meek inherit the earth when they not only enjoy whatever they have and what others have, but when they are glad that others have been given the gifts they have.

The meek take pleasure in God’s gifts to others. When we learn to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15a) we have a constant source of joy. Admittedly, to celebrate a friend’s marriage or pregnancy, when you’d love to be married or pregnant is supernatural. To rejoice with a friend who landed your dream job or the book contract you’ve worked for is meek. It is a gift of God. To celebrate like this is, in one word, to DIGLI

I’ll explain DIGLI in a minute. But first, do you remember the parable of the vineyard owner? He hired workers at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 5 p.m. Then he gave them all the same exact pay. It’s in Matthew 20 verses 10 through 15, and here’s how it ends: 

Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’

We read how the guys who worked twelve hours got the same amount as those who worked one hour, and naturally we’re stunned. Really, Jesus? That seems so unfair!

But wise parents and teachers tell their kids, Fair isn’t equal. It’s getting what you need. In His wisdom, God deemed that those vastly unequal hourly rates were exactly right, because, as author Lief Enger wrote, Fair is whatever God wants to do. 

Jesus Did Not Say, “The Envious Will Inherit The Earth”

The parable helps us understand what theologian and author Joe Rigney meant when he said, “God loves inequality…In terms of gifts, talents, abilities, opportunities, blessings, God is unequally lavish, at least according to our standards, and that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” 

Contrary to popular opinion, inequality of gifts does not need a fix. Author Dorothy Sayers wrote, “Envy is the great leveler.” It opposes meekness and it always levels down. Envy would have us lower the blessing bar to the lowest common denominator. If I can’t make a six-figure income, you shouldn’t either. If my kid can’t be a champ, yours shouldn’t be either. This is not meek. The envious will not inherit the earth. 

Which brings us back to the meek who inherit this present earth as they DIGLI. I coined the term in the midst of my own struggle to put on meekness and put off envy and discontent (Colossians 3:5-13). I needed a word to express that generous, free state of heart. Hence, DIGLI, an acronym for “delight in God’s lavish inequality.” Clearly this is not a natural dance or stance. Only the meek can DIGLI. 

Discontent spreads when we begrudge God’s generosity to others. But the meek trust that God is giving us exactly what we need to conform us to the image of Christ—even if it doesn’t make sense now. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). The meek believe this.

When her grandkids compare then complain, my mom will say, “Stay in your own lane.” The meek train themselves to run life’s race in their own lane. They learn to trust God to give whatever is good, even when it doesn’t seem fair. 

By grace, the meek train themselves to place all things in God’s hands and then find that God places all things back into their hands. And if we have eyes to see, that delightful exchange might just start now.

Christian meekness cools 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.  

—Thomas Watson

A Personal Update, 3 Invitations, & A Thank You

photo of smiling woman with invitation

Y’all! I have some happy news to share in this short post. I’ll do that in a minute. But first I’ve got a quick update.

Update #1

I’m nearly done with the draft for the Meek Not Weak (or A Taming Grace?) Bible study guide. Across five summers, 175 pages and a 25-page book proposal to boot, I learned that having real readers motivates me. Because in the last couple weeks, glory to God, I’ve condensed material into an actual-factual Bible study guide.

So this Thursday, Lord willing, my kind Bible study friends will begin a journey through the 12-week meekness study guide. I’ll edit and revise as we go. Then, DV, by November at the Empowered Women’s Retreat, there will be a table laden with a pile of meekness books.

Invitation to Action: Which title below would make you take a second look? Would you let me know with a comment below or an email reply?

  1. A Taming Grace: How Meekness Frees Us To Rest In God’s Hand 
  2. Meek Not Weak: Reclaiming the Gentle Strength of Meekness 
  3. A Taming Grace: How Meekness Frees Us to Rest in Christ When Life is Hard

I’d be grateful for your feedback and your prayers.

Update #2

In 2022, I resolved to submit articles for publication. I was inspired by a Hope*Writer friend who said her resolutions was to get 100 rejections. I didn’t go that far, but I did resolve to submit an article a month. That is up 1200% from the one piece I submitted last year.

The rejections have come. They start the same old way: “We received an overwhelming number of submissions and truly enjoyed reading through all of them.”

I knew the next line well, “We’re sorry that your submission doesn’t fit our needs at this time.”

But last week it said,

“I am delighted to inform you that we have accepted the following devotions to be included in the book. Congratulations on this incredible milestone of being published! We are celebrating with you.”

That’s update #2. The book will be released this fall.

Alert For Idols & Thanking My God For You

Mind you, I am trying to take my own advice and be on the alert for my idols. I’m on my guard for inordinate sorrow—and joy. I want to sit loose, open palms, rejoicing when I abound and when I am brought low. I want to be content in the highs and the lows.

But I admit, with this turn I am both humbled and delighted.

I am also grateful. Thank you for opening “your weekly doses of JoyPrO.” Thank you for investing your precious time in them. To you who share, comment, or send a note, please know you encourage my heart.

Invitation to Action: Is there a “tough topic in the Bible” or a practical “faith meets real life” topic you’d like me to take up?

A quick aside on this “invitation to action” business: the experts content creators must have a compelling call for action to increase engagement. Mine are usually not so explicit. But they’re there: obey, take God at his word, keep on.

Which reminds me. At the suggestion of two friends who mentioned they’d rather listen rather than read, I started a podcast. It’s called Keep On. For now, it’s just me alone with my phone in the closet and hopefully no Milky meows.

But one can never tell how a thing might grow. I’d like to branch out and do some seriously funny interviews and maybe some book reviews. Speaking of which, did you know I’m posting each month’s book club questions?

Invitation to Action: Subscribe to the KEEP ON WITH ABIGAIL WALLACE podcast or send a link to someone who’d enjoy 5-15 minutes of strong grace. Drop a line if someone you know (including you) can make us think and laugh in an interview.

Christ Exalting Is Why I Write

I promised this would be short. But I must add this bit, because this post feels a self-promotional and I don’t like that.

So I share now my deepest desire is that the words of my mouth will magnify my Lord. In other words, I write to make God look big. My earnest prayer is that you, friend, would be built up in your most holy faith as you see how in my struggles God is my refuge and strength. I write to show you that knowing Jesus Christ is the greatest treasure.

All this feeble, fumbling, typo-laden writing is my joyfullypressingon way to do that.

I’ll leave you with Kate Wilkinson’s prayer. It sums up my heart. Him exalting, self abasing, this is victory.

May the mind of Christ, my Savior, live in me from day to day,

By His love and pow’r controlling all I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour,

So that all may see I triumph only through His pow’r.

May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea;

Him exalting, self abasing, this is victory.

May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,

Looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

Running with you, for our progress and joy in the faith,

Abigail

Learning To Count Right: Loss As Gain

Hot air balloon tethered with one rope to ground
Click here for the “Keep On“ podcast of this post.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Philippians 3:8a

If I’d Have Known

If you would have told me 10 years ago that this is where I’d be, I think I would have collapsed in a heap.

If you would have told me, as I gazed down at the beautiful rosy-cheeked, long-lashed baby feeding from me, that this child would be the first and last from my womb, I’d have wept.

If I had known how the sought-out son who came from God on a plane and wowed us with his memory and wit and thrilled us with his skillful hands would have this years-long fallow season, I’d have cried.

If I had known that the speaking gigs with the book deal, the bright, sunny home on the prairie, and the Sunday dinners with missionaries were mostly fantasy, I’d have crumbled.

I would have. But I’m not. Because my non-coddling, loves-me-to-the-end God is with me and in me and for me. So please know that I’m not looking for sympathy, nor, at least as I write, in a funk of self-pity.

I’m actually rejoicing.

I know that sounds a little crazy. But it’s not.

At least not once we start to count right.

Re-Learning To Count Loss

How can you possibly count the loss of a child, the death of a dream, the loss of wealth as gain?

Great question. That is why I’m writing. I want to show you the right way for a Christian to count. Let me hasten to add, I am learning to count. Learning. Sometimes I still count the old way. I count loss as loss, not as gain.

But Apostle Paul is teaching me. The syllabus is his life, condensed into a few verses in Philippians, chapter 3:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know him…

I bolded so you would notice how Paul is counting. He just finished recounting the things in his life that had given him purpose and meaning—his Jewish heritage, moral excellence and religious upper-crustness, for three. Then comes verse 7, quoted above, “But whatever things were gain to me…”

So what exactly is this new, right way to count?

Count, Consider, Think

First, we’ve got to know that in the Bible, counting means much more than simply numbering. It means considering and reckoning. Turns out, it’s an accountant’s term for balancing the books.

When James wrote, Count it all joy when you face trials of all kinds (James 1:2), Peter wrote, Count the patience of our Lord as salvation (2 Peter 3:15), and when Paul wrote, I count all things as loss (Philippians 3:8), they all used the same Greek word, hēgeomai.

The word can mean to deem or consider—to account, suppose, or think. To think. Christian growth demands we think rightly. We must train ourselves to frame the circumstances we face biblically. We must discipline our minds to think, to consider and count certain things as loss and a certain thing as gain.

In other words, we need to build new associations in our minds. Here’s a fitness example.

Retrain Your Brain to Reframe the Pain

We need to know that there is good pain and there is bad pain. To grow strong in our faith we must be able to differentiate between the two.

After decades of regular exercise, I have trained my brain to actually crave a certain kind of pain. After I do a squat and lunge workout, I want to feel sore. When I lift weights, I want my muscles to quiver. After 40 real push-ups, I want my biceps to sting.

When I train for a marathon, I want to feel the sore legs and lung burn that come from a fast(-ish) 10 mile run. If I get a cramp in my side, I don’t panic—I run through. In fact, if I don’t hurt, I’m not getting my money’s worth.

Over the years, I have trained my brain to know that these are good pains. They are pains I associate with endurance, speed and strength. You could say I’ve learned to connect this sort of “suffering” with growth.

Therefore, I welcome the pain. I don’t count it loss, but gain.

Build Up Useful Associations

Now let’s go beyond the realm of exercise. I love this bit from Oswald Chambers about making associations.

We have to build up useful associations in our minds, to learn to associate things for ourselves, and it can only be done by determination. For instance, learn to associate the chair you sit on with nothing else but study: associate a selected secret place with nothing but prayer […] If we learn to associate ideas that are worthy of God with all that happens […] our imagination will never be at the mercy of our impulses.

When we become accustomed to connecting things, every ordinary occurrence will serve to fructify our minds in godly thinking because we have developed our minds along the lines laid down by the Spirit of God. It is not done once for always; it is only done always. Never imagine that the difficulty of doing these things belongs peculiarly to you, it belongs to everyone. The character of a person is nothing more than the habitual form of his associations 

The Moral Foundations for Life

Don’t you love that? Even more than the word fructify, I love the idea that Chambers normalizes this mental training. It’s done always, for all believers who want to count right. When we learn to build useful associations, “our imagination will never be at the mercy of our impulses.” In the context of Philippians 3, that means that rather than wallow in self-pity’s mire when our life isn’t the life of our dreams, we press on to know Christ.

We look to him for comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) and healing for our broken hearts (Psalm 147:3). In other words, we learn to associate our losses with deeper intimacy with Christ.

And that is gain.

The Intimacy Factor Prepares Us For Loss

In a message on Philippians 3, Pastor John Piper calls this “the intimacy factor.” When the saints suffer in faith, their relationship with God becomes less formal and distant, and more personal and deep. At least if they count right.

Becoming a Christian means discovering that Christ is a Treasure Chest of holy joy and writing “LOSS” over everything else in the world in order to gain him. “He sold all that he had to buy that field.”  (Matthew 13:44).

Then Piper asks, Why is writing “LOSS” across everything in your life but Christ a way of preparing to suffer?

His answer? “Suffering is nothing more than the taking away of bad things or good things that the world offers for our enjoyment—reputation, esteem among peers, job, money, spouse, sexual life, children, friends, health, strength, sight, hearing, success, etc. When these things are taken away (by force or by circumstance or by choice), we suffer.”

But if we’ve been learning from Paul, we are already counting our losses as gaining fellowship with Christ. This prepares us for life’s inevitable suffering and loss.

4 Ways to Count Loss as Gain

These four guidelines from Pastor John have been so helpful to me.

  1. It means that whenever I am called upon to choose between anything in this world and Christ, I choose Christ.
  2. It means that I will deal with the things of this world in ways that draw me nearer to Christ so that I gain more of Christ and enjoy more of him by the way I use the world.
  3. It means that I will always deal with the things of this world in ways that show that they are not my treasure, but rather show that Christ is my treasure.
  4. It means that if I lose any or all the things this world can offer, I will not lose my joy or my treasure or my life, because Christ is all.

That is what it means in practical terms to count all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. When my mama dreams, and wifely hopes, when my author aspirations and fall away, or are delayed, I’m learning to rejoice.

Because in their void Jesus Christ, the treasure that will never rust, fail or fall away. But that doesn’t mean we don’t grieve. Jesus wept. He sweated blood in Gethsemane.

But we grieve with a measure of hope. We cry with a twinge of joy. Jesus rose from the grave and he meets us in our loss and pain.

What’s Up With The Balloon?

We’ve seen that suffering is losing what gives us pleasure. Losing these things, even these relationships and people, is a very real loss. But when we learn to count them right, we gain. We gain freedom to be content whatever the circumstances.

Now, about that balloon up top. What in the world does a hot air balloon have to do with counting right?

It’s my visual for loss and gain. The ropes that tether the balloon represent earthly enjoyments my heart gets set on. Each rope released is a loss of a pleasure—a child, a spouse, my health or a dream.

But the ropes released are also gain. Because their release frees me to soar heaven-high.

I’m starting to make helpful, “fructifying” associations, to reframe the pain of loss, and to taste the sweetness of knowing Jesus Christ better as the ruins fall.

In sum, I’m learning how to count loss right.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:2-3

Graphic of counting loss as gain

Guest Post: Learning to Root My Joy in Christ

Woman seated beside potted plant

One of life’s highlights of late has been the budding kinship with “my Hope*Writer friends.” I’ve told you about comparing, scarcity and working our own little territory and described how so often joy comes when we choose what we didn’t (at first) choose.

Enter Allison, one of those new friends. She is young, fresh and from the Pacific Northwest. But what really drew me to Allison is her passion and zest for helping women become rooted in God’s Word. I trust you’ll be blessed by her post.

I can still feel the silence that rang in my ears as he shut the door behind him.

It was January 2020. My husband had left for a six-month deployment after a tearful and much-dreaded goodbye.

Home Alone

I couldn’t have imagined the quiet that would follow. Little did we know the world would soon shut down for the pandemic, leaving me home alone with only my feisty kitty Daisy for company. 

As many of my habits and patterns were interrupted, I found myself with more time on my hands than I had experienced in my adult life. The many distractions, some meaningful and some not, seemed to fall away. 

It was through small acts of imperfect obedience that I drew near to God. I chose to open up His Word rather than hit “next episode” on Netflix., chose worship music when I could have chosen pop music, chose to give thanks even as I cried tears of loneliness. 

My obedience was flawed and inconsistent, yet I could feel Him draw near to me when I drew near to Him, just as He promises in His word (James 4:8). More than ever, I craved His presence.

Joy Takes Root

As I drew nearer to Christ, I encountered a joy that wasn’t rooted in circumstance or temporary pleasure. Instead, it was a joy with a much firmer foundation. I experienced joy rooted in the everlasting faithfulness of a Savior who is always by my side.

This is a joy we can’t maintain on our own by willing ourselves a “can-do” attitude. Rather, we must humbly come before Christ each day asking Him to renew our joy in Him. When we do, we will find our joy doesn’t rely on something as shaky as our occupations, bank accounts, or physical appearance. 

We will find our joy is rooted in Christ. This is the only joy that will never fail and will bring about the only outcome worth living and dying for—experiencing the presence of our Lord.

Are you ready to draw near to Christ through studying His word?

Download Allison’s free Rooted Rhythm guide. Allison Mattson is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to be rooted in Christ. Connect with her by subscribing to her Rooted Writings blog and following along on Instagram @mrsallisonmattson.