Blessed are the Meek

blessed_meekIf there is one verse that stumps me the most in the Beatitudes, it’s verse 5:

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

Matthew 5:5

What does it mean to be meek? Is it weakness? Wisdom? Submission? Restrained strength?

The Greek word means “mild,” and (by implication) “humble.” Other forms of the word have definitions of “gentleness,” “humility,” and “meekness.”

In looking up cross-references, I saw that “meekness” is often translated as “gentleness.” Sometimes it is also translated as “lowly” or “humility.”

Here are some examples that may give us further insight into the word:

Matt. 21:5, “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. ‘”

1 Pet. 3:4, “rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

Matt. 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

1 Cor. 4:21, “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?”

2 Cor. 10:1, “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.”

Gal. 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . gentleness

Gal. 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Eph. 4:2, “. . . with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.”

Col. 3:12, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering”

1 Tim. 6:11, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”

2 Tim. 2:25, “in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.”

Titus 3:2, “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men”

James 1:21, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

James 3:13-14, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.”

1 Pet. 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

So I feel like we are getting a little closer to understanding what meekness is. It includes gentleness, but it’s more than that, since gentleness can also be listed with it as something separate (2 Cor. 10:1, Titus 3:2). It also includes humility, although again it must be more than that (Matt. 11:29, Eph. 4:2, Col. 3:12).

Based off of these verses, what do we learn about what it is?

We learn that meekness doesn’t demand recognition. It isn’t harsh, but it is not afraid to speak the truth. It is evidence of the Spirit’s working in our lives. It puts others above itself.

The common definition for meek is “strength under control.” Like a powerful ox that submits to its master, meekness humbly follows God and does not boast in its strength. Meekness is the leader who knows how to follow, the teacher who knows how to learn.

I recently read this quote by Harry Emerson Fosdick, and it reminded me of meekness, “No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara ever turned light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.”

O. S. Hawkins wrote, “The picture of this Greek word . . . is of an animal that has been domesticated. For example, it is a wild stallion that is ridden and ‘broken’ by a cowboy so that it begins to go, turn, or stop with a slight move of the bridle’s reins. The stallion’s will has been broken and submitted to the master’s will. And so it is with believers who know something of the Spirit-controlled life” (The Joshua Code, 2012, p. 42).

Before Jesus was born, Mary sang, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.” It is the humble, the gentle, the meek, who will inherit the earth.

Are we gentle? Are we humble? Are we meek? Or do we boast in our knowledge and strength, looking for recognition that will not last?

But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psalm 37:11


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