Friday, March 17, 2006

Jesus, Debonair?

“Blessed are the debonair for they shall inherit the earth.” When the French translated the third beatitude that is how they rendered, “Blessed are the meek.”

“Debonair” in English means pleasant manners, courteous and gracious. It is a word from Old French that means “of good disposition.”

Essential to the Christian walk is the understanding of the word “meek.” What does it really mean? The dictionary defines meek as “humble, patient, or submissive as under provocation from others” also as “overly patient; spiritless; tame.” A little wimpy for Cathy’s dictionary.

I much prefer preachers’ definition of “meek” as “power under control.” Moses fits that description—solid leader, a man who went before kings, a family man. Moses had his faults, but he was viewed as a “very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Moses was teachable.

“Meek” doesn’t mean perfect except when describing Jesus. More than anything, “meek” probably means that a person is teachable. When corrected or instructed, some give a flippant answer of “Whatever.” Besides not being courteous it belies an un-teachable spirit

My friend Jan says that one of her prayers for arrogant or self-reliant people is that “they come to the end of themselves.” That’s the door to a university of “higher” learning, where a person recognizes faults and can learn better living patterns from above.

Jesus gives the lead on what “meek” means when he said about himself, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He then said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle [meek] and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus invites those who are tired of trying to control themselves to team up and be taught. He’s not a slave driver; he’ll shoulder the load, too. He’ll get in the harness with the student.

The word “debonair” and Jesus seem not to belong in the same sentence. However, if the word means a teacher who will come alongside of a student and help them come to the end of themselves, then Jesus is debonair.

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