“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
In this post, we will discuss what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the meek.” What is meekness? Can one be both meek and bold? What is the opposite of meek? Why should we want to be meek?
Meekness is similar to humility. A meek person is one who trusts God completely, knowing He has control over every situation, even when it appears as if the evil ones are winning. A meek person is gentle in spirit towards everyone and does not seek his or her own interest.
Please read Zephaniah 3:9-13. In these verses from the prophet Zephaniah, we see that those who are meek will be purified so that they can pray to God and offer Him worship. They are not prideful — that is, haughty — and they trust fully in the name of the Lord. The characteristics of the meek we see in these verses are purity, humility, and confidence in God.
In this discussion, we will see what a meek person looks like; how meekness is also an attitude; and how we can look to Jesus as our Example of meekness.
What Does “Meek” Look Like?
Mildness of Disposition
A mild-tempered person possesses self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit. (See Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:31-32.) When we are in control of our words, actions, emotions, and thoughts, we will not treasure bitterness or rage in our hearts, get into arguments with people, or speak evil about another person.
Someone can have a mild disposition without being a “doormat.” They do not have to let others walk all over them or take advantage of them. Instead, they trust that God is in control. Rather than taking revenge upon those who have wronged them, they forgive those who hurt them and show kindness and compassion to all. They are not given to fits of rage, overindulgence, bad tempers, cursing, or excessive “venting” or complaining. A person can still be meek and mild while standing up for what is right, defending the helpless, and speaking the truth in love. Mildness does not equal “sissy.”
Gentleness of Spirit
Similarly, a meek person is one who is clothed with gentleness. Look at other qualities listed in Colossians 3:12-13 along with gentleness: compassion, kindness, humility, and patience.
When we are gentle, we are loving towards others, even when they are sick, tormented, annoying, mean, ungrateful, or prideful. When we are gentle, we do not respond to the world as the world does, but respond as Jesus did – not with impatience, frustration, yelling, annoyance, or harsh words – but in love.
It’s an Attitude
Attitude of Humility
As we mentioned before, part of being meek is being humble and, as Philippians 2:3 suggests, that means that we are more concerned about others’ needs than our own. If we are humble, and not prideful, we do not do ambitious things out of self-conceit; but we do God’s will out of total surrender to Him and to His will.
When we do not think too highly of ourselves, our opinions, our knowledge, or our own strength, then we recognize God’s power and sovereignty, that He is good, and He is in control over everything. As we submit to Him, He will have His way both in us and in this world.
Attitude of Submission
Not only do we submit to God and His ultimate authority, we also submit to those who have been placed in authority over us, whether they deserve it or not (Hebrews 12:9; Romans 13:1-3). For example, we have parents, teachers, pastors, cops, judges, governors, a president, bosses, etc. Sometimes one of those in authority over us might ask us to do things we don’t really feel like doing, or to not do things we really want to do. The Bible commands that as we submit to God our Father, we also are to submit to those whom He has placed over us here on earth, unless they ask us to do something against the Word of God.
A submissive attitude is one of yielding. We yield to others rather than always seeking to win, to gain something for ourselves, or to show our displeasure in them or their actions.
Attitude of Dependence
We’ve talked about submitting to God, trusting in God, and doing His will, but we must also learn to renew our minds and conform the attitudes of our hearts to be fully dependent on Him. When we have our hearts fully dependent upon God for everything, we quiet ourselves before Him without being anxious or doubtful. As Isaiah 30:15 says, we find our strength in quieting our hearts and trusting God with our minds.
Our King is Our Example
Jesus was Gentle
Look at Matthew 11:29; Jesus was an awesome example of meekness and gentleness. We can read in the Scriptures about how many sick people He healed, how many outcast people He talked to and befriended, how much patience He had with people asking silly questions all the time, and how much self-control He had when He was being beaten and tortured before His death.
In His dealings with people, Jesus was overwhelmingly patient and gentle in spirit. However, we did see an example of His boldness and zeal for God come out when He drove out the moneychangers from the temple, the place where God dwelled.
Jesus Submitted to God
In John 5:30, besides being meek and gentle, we see Jesus was fully submitted to His Father. Even though Jesus Himself is also God, He still submits to the order that the Father has established since the beginning of time.
We, as Christians, do not seek our own will, but the pleasure of our Father in heaven who has sent us, just as He sent Jesus to the world. Because Jesus said, “I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
Jesus Inherited the World
This verse, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” says that all those who possess this characteristic will “inherit the earth.” In the Kingdom of God, it is not those whom the world esteems – those who are ambitious, self-assertive, self-confident, strong, and in control – who will inherit the kingdoms of this world. Instead it is those who are submitted to God; those who are meek; those who are mild, gentle, compassionate, and humble, who will inherit the earth.
Look at Philippians 2:1-11. Notice the characteristics Paul urges his readers to have: tenderness, compassion, love, unity, humility, servant-hood, and obedience. This is from Paul, the great apostle and missionary who planted many churches and turned the hearts of many people to God, despite being beaten, tortured, imprisoned, abandoned, betrayed, starved, and persecuted. He was not a weakling, or a ‘doormat,’ but he embodied meekness just as Jesus did.
When we are meek, God works on our behalf to bring us into a great inheritance and purpose. However, if we try to rely on our own strength, wisdom, and ambition, then we will not walk in all that God has for us, even to the point of turning away from trust in Him.