Written Word

The Beatitudes – Part 4: The Meek

Meekness is generally not associated with someone of strong character, but with someone who is weak and timid instead, someone who will bow to pressure. This is the very opposite of the true meaning of the word Jesus used when he said, “Blessed are the meek.” (Matthew 5:5)

In Jesus’ day, meekness was a word used to describe the training of a wild horse. This meaning was brought out in the movie, The Horse Whisperer. A wild, powerful, fast horse is caught and broken in. For this to be accomplished, hours are spent walking the horse around the corral getting him used to the bridle and to the leading of the trainer. Then the saddle is placed upon him. He fights to reject it, but eventually accepts it. Then a rider mounts him and this new experience is met with resistance. Eventually the horse is trained. The horse has lost none of its former strength or speed, what has happened is that its power has been harnessed and brought under control. A horse that was once wild and out of control is now “meek”. The same point can be made about a river that rages out of control, bursting its banks and causing widespread destruction. If the riverbanks are strengthened then the power of the river can be brought under control and its power used as a source for generating electricity. Meekness is like that – it is power under control.

Moses was said to be the meekest man on the earth. (Numbers 12:3) Yet he was not always like that. In his early years he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of the Hebrew slaves. “Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” (Exodus 2:12) This was the behaviour of a hot-tempered, impetuous man. Fleeing the scene of his crime, he spent the next forty years tending sheep in the desert region of Median where God worked in his life, molding him into a leader who would bring God’s people out of slavery. For the next forty years he led three million people, which could only be done by an exceptional leader, one who was meek. Meekness is strength under control.

Jesus invites us to come to him, assuring us that that he is “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29) And Paul appeals to the church of God in Corinth “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ”. (2 Corinthians 10:1) Jesus was meek and the apostle Paul imitated his Lord, yet neither could be called weak or timid.

As John Stott notes, meekness is a term broad enough to include gentleness, humility, consideration and courtesy. Meekness in the life of a Christian can be seen in how one reacts to situations. We can be very critical of ourselves, but let someone repeat the same thing about us and we can be easily offended and may react in an unchristian manner. The meek person refuses to be provoked, but entrusts everything to God.

They Will Inherit the Earth

There is a sense in which the meek now inherit the earth. Jesus says when we seek first the kingdom of God “all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Because we are God’s children, we have access to everything belonging to our Father. We belong to God’s family, to brothers and sisters throughout the world who care one for another. We have access, by our relationship with Jesus, to everything that his people now have. Right now we are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”, but a day will come when we will enter into full possession of all that God has planned for us to inherit. (See Romans 8:17,22-23.) Possession comes not by conquest or by power. Possession of the earth comes to those who are meek.