I had forgotten about all of this until I was reading a book on volcanoes with my son. Then I remembered. And this week as I thought about how life can blindside you, how things can take you out before you even see them coming, this image came to mind.
Do you see that boulder? It looks pretty impressive doesn’t it? What do you think that baby weighs? Any ideas out there? A thousand pounds, two thousand? It sure looks that way.
But you know what? Appearances can deceive. What do I mean? Take a look at this guy. Holy Moley. This guy must have superhuman strength. It looks like lifting up that rock is no problem at all.
Does anyone know what is going on
You see these rocks are both made of something called pumice stone. And pumice stone gets made when a volcano explodes, but here’s the deal. When this stone gets blown out, it has all sorts of volcanic gases moving through it creating hundreds, even thousands of bubbles in the rock. Basically, it may look like a regular rock, but in reality, it’s really just full of hot air. And people can build a life that looks a lot like this rock. What do I mean?
In the end, don’t you hope that you live a life that has impact, that has weight so to speak? You’d like to think when it comes time to head off to heaven that you’ve left behind something in some way that is significant, meaningful, weighty. Yet some folks build a life that looks like that, yes. It looks big, significant, weighty even. But then you get closer. You talk to the people they know, and you find out. What looked so big and weighty, it’s just a bunch of hot air. It’s like a stone full of holes, a largely empty life, one that has so little of the weight, of the significance, it could have. And here’s the scary part, you can build a life like that, and not even realize it, not even see how sadly insignificant your life has become.
How do you avoid that? In these words, Jesus tells you. Jesus shows you the way. Let’s listen and hear what Jesus has to say.
Matthew 5:5 - Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
How do you avoid a hollow sort of life, one that looks weighty but in reality, has little weight at all? In these words, Jesus tells you. Jesus in these words is pointing to where your true weight lies. Jesus is opening you up to the significance, to the weight you already have, a weight you have without doing anything at all.
But before you can understand that weight, that significance, you first need to understand the opposite. You first need to understand what draws you away from this significance. You and I need to address the question. What deceives people into living a life that look weighty but isn’t weighty at all? What draws you into a hollow life?
Growing up, I attended a private boys’ school. But it didn’t take me long to realize. I might be a boy, sure, but I wasn’t exactly the right type of boy. You see. I didn’t own penny loafers. My shirts contained polyester, lots and lots of polyester. Not only did I not get the L.L. Bean catalogue, I didn’t even know who L.L. Bean was.
So how did I deal with that problem? I figured out how to look the part. I saved what I made from bagging groceries and used it to buy clothes at all the right stores. I couldn’t afford to get my shirts laundered and starched, so I learned how to hand starch them at home. I figured. If I couldn’t take them to a laundry, I could sure make it look like I did. I gotta admit. On the outside, I looked pretty good. But inside, I still felt inadequate. I still felt like a poser. I felt that was still living in a world in which I didn’t really belong.
But was it really about the clothes? No. Clothes are typically good things. They protect you. They keep you warm. They bring beauty to the world. And yes, they can make you look good too. And that’s good.
But in my case, my clothing concerns simply pointed to a deeper problem. I thought. If I look good on the outside, it will make me feel good on the inside. My clothes will give me the importance, the weightiness I seek. I was looking for the glory, but the way I was seeking it only led to emptiness. It didn’t make me feel more secure. It made me feel less.
Now, my problem wasn’t in looking for the glory. My problem was the way I was going for the glory was in vain. The Bible even has a word for this type of vain going for the glory. It’s often translated pride. But literally, the word means simply this, vain glory or more accurately empty glory.
That’s why the whole rock thing I mentioned in the beginning came to mind when I thought about these words of Jesus, and how it relates to something that can blindside you, that can take you out before you even realize it. You see. The word glory in the Bible means weightiness as in heavy, like a rock.
When you think about it, that makes sense. Everyone wants to feel weighty, significant. We even have slang that refers to it. “He threw his weight around.” Or: “Her advice carries a lot of weight around here.” And this desire to feel weighty like that, it’s good. That’s why God has glory, why we have all sorts of songs that even celebrate that. And God created you to yearn for glory too.
When my son does something really well, what do he do? He’ll say. “Mommy, daddy look at me. Look at what I did.” And when we respond. “Wow, what an awesome job” do you know what we are doing. We are shining some glory on that child. And that is a beautiful thing.
Everyone needs to strive for that sort of glory. It’s wonderful, gratifying, uplifting when you get recognized for doing something good. When someone gives you that weight, that significance, that’s a beautiful, glorious thing.
But empty glory happens when you want the glory, the appearance of the weightiness, without the reality that lies behind it. When I wore those clothes in high school, I did so in order to be accepted, to be respected. But what I didn’t get is that the clothes didn’t matter. In fact, looking back, I remember. Some of the folks most respected in that school didn’t wear cool clothes at all. These folks carried weight, not because of what they wore, but because of who they were. And looking back, the folks who most respected me, respected me for me, not because I starched my shirts. But here’s the problem. Empty glory seeking goes far beyond what you wear. It goes far deeper than that.
Say, you’re in an argument. And you realize painfully that maybe the other person is right. But do you acknowledge that? Well, if you did that, you’d look bad. You’d have to admit you were wrong. You think. You’d lose some weight, some glory so to speak. So, you stick to your guns. And in all that mess, what happens? The truth gets lost, along with any hope of a resolution. More crucially, over time, the relationship gets lost too. And why?
You don’t want to look bad, to lose face. You don’t want to be in the wrong, even when you know, everyone knows you are. You don’t want to lose the glory. But here’s the painful truth. You already have. Why? Most folks see that your glory is no glory at all. It’s posing. It’s posturing. It’s empty.
And this whole empty glory seeing doesn’t simply hurt you in your relationships. It affects you all sorts of places. You become so focused on looking good that you give way too much power what other people think or what you think they think. And those perceptions capture you, even cripple you. And empty glory leaves you painfully alone. It blocks you from intimacy. After all, you fear exposure of the truth. So, you hide behind looking good, appearing good, behind an empty glory that is no real glory at all.
And you deceive yourself into thinking that’s what you have, the glory. But you don’t. Your glory isn’t glory. It has no weight, no substance at all. And if you and I are honest, we’ll realize, this sort of empty glory seeking affects us all. Its why people call Facebook, Fakebook. It’s why Instagram is hardly ever real life. So much of what people put there is just empty glory.
So how do you escape that? How do you become free? You turn to these words here, words that too often people have not understood at all.
People think meek means weak. It means timidity, fearfulness. But meek as Jesus uses it doesn’t mean those things at all. Meek simply means those who are at peace, at rest. And why are they at peace? They have become content. When Jesus says blessed are the meek, Jesus is saying blessed, happy, fulfilled are those who are content.
And why are they content? They get it. They get what really matters. They have discovered that what really matters has very little relation to what they thought did matter. More than that, they realize that what matters, they already have.
Meek means you are no longer anxiously striving after what doesn’t matter at all. Instead, you realize that what ultimately matters, God has already given you. Did you notice? Jesus doesn’t say the meek win the earth or gain the earth. The meek inherit it. They simply have opened their lives to receive what they already have.
And what do you already have? You already have the weight. You already have the glory. And you had nothing to do with it. God gave it to you from the beginning. But the tragic truth that the Bible tells us is that people didn’t realize what they had. People went for the appearance of glory, for the empty glory when they already had the real thing.
But in Jesus, God came to bring us back to the truth, to show us our truth worth. And in Jesus, God gave up everything, even God’s very life to make that happen. In that cross, do you see what is God proclaiming?
God is proclaiming your worth. God is giving you the glory, the weightiness of his love, a love so weighty that in Jesus, God even gave up his very life for you. And since God gives you this glory, no mistake, no failing, no ugliness inside you will ever take that weight, that glory away. In that love, you have a worth; you have a weightiness, a glory that even overcomes death.
And when you know that glory, it fills you with contentment. You know you already have all that you ultimately need. You have inherited it because in Jesus you know that you are God’s beloved child. And when you know that, you don’t have to play the empty glory game. Sure, you still strive to grow, to become more, to achieve and experience all that God has for you. You can even put on some nice clothes too that you enjoy wearing. But you don’t do it to get the glory. You know. In Jesus, you already have it.
And when you know that you can lose an argument too. You can even look bad if that’s what it takes to live in the truth. You can admit your faults and missteps and strive to grow past them. Why? You know, in Jesus, God’s love has already given you all the worth, all the glory you will ever need and what, what is more glorious than that?