Blessed Are The Meek

by Hermanus W. Smeenk

      In Matthew 5:5 Jesus Christ taught his disciples: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (King James Version). Have you ever stopped to think about the meaning of the word "meek"? What did you think it meant, humility, patience, or submissiveness?

      Consulting Websterís New World Dictionary of the American Language, 2nd College Edition, we find that the word "meek" can be defined as being pliant or gentle. It can also be defined as: 1) patient and mild; not inclined to anger or resentment, or 2) being too submissive; easily imposed upon; spineless; spiritless.

How Meek Should We Be?

      Now, I canít imagine that God really meant for us to be too submissive, or easily imposed upon, spineless, or spiritless. In Numbers 12:3, Moses was called "very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth". He certainly was not too submissive, or easily imposed upon, spineless or spiritless. In Matthew 11:29, we also find Jesus describing himself as "meek and lowly in heart". Was either Moses or Jesus too submissive, or easily imposed upon, spineless or spiritless? No. Moses broke the tables of the law in his anger when he found the Israelites dancing and making merry around the golden calf. He also struck the rock with his staff instead of speaking to it because of his anger at Israel. These were not actions of a spineless, spiritless individual. Nor can that be said about Jesus when he called the Pharisees and Scribes hypocrites to their face, or when he cleared the temple of the money changers. So, we can state then that the meekness spoken of in Matthew 5:5 does not mean that we should be too submissive, easily imposed upon, spineless or spiritless as described in the 2nd use of the word "meek".

Another Definition Of Meekness

      What about the 1st usage of the word "meek", to be patient and mild, not inclined to anger or resentment? Certainly, Jesus Christ had these traits and God does expects us also to exhibit those same traits. But, letís look elsewhere for a definition of "meekness". First of all, letís look at several other Bible translations. We find that Matthew 5:5 in the World English translation is rendered "God makes happy those who quietly trust him and do not try to get their own way. The world will belong to them." Here, "meekness" used in the King James version is translated as "quietly trusting God and not trying to get their own way", or in other words exhibiting humility towards God. In the New American Standard Bible, this same passage is rendered "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth."

      Also, as translated from the Dutch Translation, we find the word "zachtmoedigen" used, meaning the gentle, sweet, or mild-tempered. Likewise, in the German Translation we find the word Sanftmütigen used, which is the same word used in the Dutch Translation. We find a similar word in Psalm 37:11 in the King James Version, where we read "But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." In the Dutch Translation the word used in place of "the meek" is "ootmoedigen", which translated into English means "the humble, the meek, or the submissive".

      So, putting it altogether, we find then that a meek person exhibits traits of gentleness and mild-temper, humility and submissiveness. Thinking about the life of Christ, and the traits that He exhibited, we will find each of the traits exemplified by his conduct. These traits are also found in Abraham, Godís friend, Moses with whom God spoke face to face, Daniel, a man greatly beloved by God, and Job, a perfect and upright man.

What Is Our Attitude?

      Christ promised that the meek would inherit the earth. Do we exhibit meekness in our everyday life? Shall we be among those who will inherit the earth? What is expected of us in this day and age to be considered meek in Godís eyes? (Notice that Christ did NOT say that they would inherit the WORLD as many people seem to think that Christ meant. There is a difference between the earth and the world. The word "WORLD" is used in the Bible to depict the social system of mankind upon the earth. That system is now under the rule and influence of Satan and will be destroyed at the second coming of Christ. The meek will rule with Christ over the remnant of human beings that remain alive after Satan has been banished to the bottomless pit).

      Meekness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 states: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. In the Dutch translation, gentleness is interpreted as friendliness, to differentiate between the definition of meekness as gentleness and meekness as used in verse 23. Notice that each of the fruits of the Spirit is dependent on love for our neighbor. Without love, none of the other fruits of the Spirit can exist, and in addition, each of the fruits is dependent upon one another. Therefore, to exhibit meekness one must exhibit love and joy, be a peaceable person, be patient, exhibit friendliness and goodness, be strong in faith towards God and be temperate. Each of these characteristics can be found in a meek person, as also Christ lived an example for us to follow.

Examples of Meekness

      Let us take a look at some examples of a meek attitude. Your supervisor at work asks you to perform a task thatís really not part of your normal duties. Youíre very busy and you notice a co-worker hasnít had much to do and has been engaging in PR activities with other co-workers. Our human nature would immediately re-act in a defensive attitude and tell the supervisor, "I canít do it, Iím too busy with this job, why donít you give it to so-and-so who isnít doing anything, anyway!" Someone with a meek attitude would approach the problem in a tone of friendliness such as "Iíd be happy to take care of it for you, would you like to have it done immediately, or should I first finish the project that you asked me to have ready in an hour?" As you can understand, this attitude will prevent any offensive words by the supervisor.

      Another example is a situation in which one might arrive home from the office, feeling worn and stressed out from the constant demands on your attention at work as well as the stressful drive home during the worst part of the daily rush-hour. One of your family members, a son or daughter, tells you "Iíve got to go to a friendís house right away and I need a ride to get there. My friend lives two miles down the road." This road happens to be the same one that acted like a parking lot on your way home. Our human nature would immediately rebel against the very thought of going back out there in that traffic, so we yell at our son or daughter "Forget it, I just got home, Iím tired, I have a terrific headache, and Iím not going back out there to fight that traffic."

      What would be the attitude of a meek person? A meek person must be peaceable, friendly and longsuffering and must treat others with respect and courtesy. Before we say anything, we should say a short prayer, to ask God for strength and to remember that we are on this earth to learn to serve with love towards others. Therefore, we say with a friendly tone in our voice, "Okay, Iíll be with you as soon as Iíve gotten rid of this stuff and refreshed myself in the bathroom." Then when the son or daughter emphasizes the point that they must leave right away because he or she must be at the friendís house in the next 15 minutes, you continue with your friendly tone of voice and advice him or her to call the friend to explain that youíd be leaving in the next five minutes, and you may be a little late. Your son or daughter must also learn to be patient, friendly, and develop a meek attitude. It is at times such as these when they are able to practice that attitude.

      One last example of a situation in which one can practice meekness. Youíre driving along on the road at the proper speed limit. As you drive along, your eyes roam over the road ahead and behind your car. Suddenly you notice a car coming up from behind you at great speed, fast closing the distance between it and your car. Then the car whips around you and just barely misses your car and continues on down the road. A half mile further, the car suddenly leaves the road and crashes into a ditch. Our human nature in control would immediately flash the thought through our mind "Good, thatís just what he deserves" not thinking that maybe the person driving the car may be badly hurt.

      With a meek attitude, we would have moved our car over to give the car all the room that was possible to pass. Our attitude would then have been one of great concern for the driver and any passengers that may have been in the car when it crashed. We would immediately have hurried to a nearby telephone to call the police, then gone to see if we could have offered the carís occupants any help. We would have made allowances for the reason of the carís speed, such as: perhaps the accelerator was stuck in the down position or the driver had suffered a stroke or heart attack and his foot had pushed the accelerator completely down to the floor.

Conclusion

      It is Godís will that we develop an attitude of meekness towards others. Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit and is an outgrowth of love and concern for the welfare of other people. Jesus exhibited a spirit of love, gentleness and meekness towards all mankind, setting us an example to follow. Make it a part of your daily prayer to ask God to help you to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, especially the fruit of meekness. A spirit of meekness includes a spirit of love, joy, peace, friendliness, gentleness, patience, goodness, faith, and temperance and against such there is no law.

Continue on to the next chapter where we'll discuss more of the teachings by Jesus in Matthew 5 about what our proper attitude should be towards our neighbor. The chapter's title is,  "Blessed are the Peacemakers"





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