By Nathan Garrett
“The thankful heart sees the best part of every situation. It sees problems and weaknesses as opportunities, struggles as refining tools, and sinners as saints in progress.”
– Francis Frangipane
We live in a culture that believes everyone has some good in them, and that we just need to discover it. But the Bible teaches that since man’s breach with God in Genesis 3, we’ve never been without sin. In Psalm 14:3, Paul reminds us, “There is no one who does good, not even one.” Why spend so much time focusing on our sin? When we understand the depths of our sin, we can have a truly awesome picture of our God and a deep appreciation of what His Son Jesus did for us on the cross. As we were stained with sin, so our Savior was holy and perfect, a spotless lamb. This understanding goes deeper than intellectual theology; it permeates every part of our daily lives, starting with our attitudes.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus laid out several traits of Christian character in what we call the Beatitudes. The first trait He described is that Christians are “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). What He means by this phrase is that we realize our sinful condition. We don’t walk around with a sense of spiritual entitlement. Instead of looking down on others, we realize how we deserved nothing, yet were given everything in Christ.
Realizing your own sinfulness leads logically to another Beatitude, “Blessed are the gentle” (Matthew 5:5). To become gentle is to realize that any goodness within us is unnatural. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote that a meek, or gentle, person “feels that there is nothing within himself of which he can boast.”
“Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
Is Jesus’ purpose in these two Beatitudes to beat you down so that you feel hopeless? Absolutely not. The point here is that by realizing what you actually deserve, you can thank God for not giving it to you. Jones explains, “to be meek… means that you have finished with yourself altogether, and you come to see you have no rights or deserts at all.” He goes on to say that “a man who is truly meek is a man who is always satisfied; he is a man who is already content.” A man who is meek and poor in spirit accepts sorrow as well as happiness, trusting that God has ordained both.
Whenever you face a challenging circumstance, consider it an opportunity for God to teach you meekness. Rather than questioning Him, question your attitude toward Him. Remember where you were without Christ and be thankful for all he has given you.
Nathan Garnett is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He has served as pastor of two churches and now works as an engineer in the industry of appliance manufacturing. Nathan lives on a small horse farm with his wife, three children, Zebedee the dog, and Dassie the cat.
This article originally appeared in the March, 2011 issue of HomeLife. To subscribe, click here or on the magazine cover.