Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Scott A. Bessenecker's recent book, How to Inherit the Earth: Submitting Ourselves to a Servant Savior, (InterVarsity Press, 2009).
Jesus promised that the meek would inherit the Earth. But meekness isn't an attractive quality in our world, and developing it requires going against tremendous pressures from our sinful nature. If you do learn how to submit yourself to God and others, though, you'll help to change the world for the better.
Here's how you can inherit the Earth:
Become downwardly mobile. Jesus chose the ultimate downwardly mobile life by leaving heaven to live and serve in our fallen world. He deserved more than anyone to be rich, famous, and powerful, yet He chose to be a picture of perfect meekness. Ask God to help you overcome pride and become more humble so you can follow Jesus' example. Be alert for opportunities to reach out to poor, lost, and broken people. Be willing to help people who can't advance your status or power or repay you in any material way. Decide to use whatever personal power you have to help others rather than to exalt yourself.
Submit to God and other people. Living according to your own agenda will end up enslaving you to sin, but learning how to submit to God and others will free you to grow into a stronger person and experience God's peace. You can't learn what it means to live successfully in God's kingdom until you learn to die to the world's definitions of success. So be willing to submit to anyone who God is leading you to submit to - not just smart or wealthy people, but also those such as the developmentally disabled or the poor. Ask God to help you dethrone your selfishness and desire to control so you'll be better able to follow wherever He leads you. Pray for the strength you need to submit to others God wants you to respect, even when you disagree with them.
Let go of the money and possessions God wants you to relinquish. Hoarding wealth when God wants you to use it to help others reveals that you're not trusting God enough. Repent and ask God to help you overcome fear and greed so you can become a generous person, just as Jesus is generous with you. Pray for the faith you need to fully depend on God each day to provide all of your needs.
Stop comparing yourself to others. The paths Jesus will ask you to follow are often not the same paths that He will ask others to follow. So don't justify avoiding a task by pointing to someone else who didn't have to do it or comparing yourself to someone who did the task but who seems more qualified than you. Don't feel as if you're entitled to indulge a certain privilege just because someone else got to do so. Stop measuring yourself against other people's lives and listen for the ways that God is uniquely speaking to you.
Get rid of a sense of entitlement. Pray for the love you need to set aside your rights and privileges so you can serve others however God leads you to serve them. Remember that Jesus said those who truly love Him will follow Him by serving others sacrificially. Instead of following selfish ambitions, aim your ambition toward doing your best to answer God's calls faithfully and serve other people well. When you encounter a need and sense God leading you to help meet it, do so without pride or grumbling, letting love motivate you. Be willing to help at the cost of your own comfort or well-being.
Choose obedience over independence. God designed people to follow His authority and exercise benevolent authority over each other. People were never meant to rule themselves. If you try to run your own life without answering to any authority, you'll only end up in bondage to sin. But if you choose to trust and obey God and work respectfully with other people in positions of authority, you'll be free to experience the best life possible. So don't leave your marriage if you and your spouse disagree; stay and work out the issues. Don't leave your job when you're asked to do something that you don't want to do at work; do your duty and learn from the experience. Don't stop listening to friends who bring up topics that make you uncomfortable; talk with them and consider how you can grow as a result.
Lead as a follower. Always keep in mind when you're leading other people that you're a follower first. Seek to follow Jesus faithfully so you can lead faithfully when He calls you to do so. Leading with meekness involves love above all else, so you won't need to coerce others into following but can inspire them to voluntarily join you in service to God.
Adapted from How to Inherit the Earth: Submitting Ourselves to a Servant Savior, copyright 2009 by Scott A. Bessenecker. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., http://www.ivpress.com/.
Each year Scott Bessenecker helps send more than 2,000 college students to nearly every continent on earth as the associate director of missions for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. To prepare for his work spreading vision and mobilizing resources, Scott got a degree in Business Administration and a masters in International Development from William Carey International University. Scott has written from a holistic Christian perspective for publications like Relevant and Mission Maker magazines and edited the book Quest for Hope in the Slum Community. His active weblog is at http://www.thenewfriars.com/.
Original publication date: March 25, 2010