“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
Of all the beatitudes this one is the most difficult to understand. Who are the meek? And who is inheriting the earth? These are good questions that deserve an answer. The first part of the beatitude presents no major problem as Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.”
The word meek denotes a mild, gentle spirit, a spirit that is not characterized by anger. It has always been part of the portrait of God’s people to be meek. Moses, the Bible says, was the meekest of all men on the face of the earth during his generation. The lives of the saints consistently manifest the cultivation of the virtue of meekness. Meekness does not come easily. By nature, as the offspring of Adam, we are more like Cain than Abel. Our disposition is one of, demanding acquisition, willfulness, and obvious displeasure if what we say or do is not acceptable.
To compound the problem, examples of meekness do not abound in our society. Ours is a violent society, and growing more violent with each passing day. Jesus said that as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be prior to the coming of the Son of Man. The Bible tells us that the days of Noah were violent days. We too live in a generation of violent lawlessness. Thousands of murders are acted out each week on the TV screen in bold detail. The evening news will calmly report real acts of random violence. No one is safe. For God’s people to be characterized as meek in a violent world, is for them to appear weak. But meekness is not weakness, not as Jesus taught. And there is much joy to be found in cultivating a kinder, gentler spirit.
First, there is the happiness of knowing that someone else will not be harmed, or offended because of a hasty temper, a fist raised in anger, or a harsh voice. People need to feel safe around other people. Most people will relocate rather than be around someone who is not kind, but cruel, and rude.
In the Christian home, when meekness is lost, many is the Christian parent who, under holy conviction, is ashamed at the short tempered remark made to a family member and will kneel to say, “I am so sorry.”
Sometimes a spouse will find that they are too forceful. The spirit of meekness will compel a turning from this sin to find a more gentle way to communicate. When parents are kinder to each other, so will the children be.
Speaking of children, it is no secret that the young ones within a family hurt each other grievously. Brothers and sisters fight, and call each other names. They antagonize, and torment each other in the most ingenious ways. Dr. James Dobson says all of this sibyl fighting cannot be stopped, only refereed. It is not easy to teach children that there is more happiness in being meek than in being right all the time, and having one’s own way.
In another area, Christians who desire to be like Christ will be sensitive in their relationships on the job. A spirit of meekness will silence unnecessary critical comments that wound, and scar the souls of others. There is joy, there is great happiness in knowing that someone else will not be offended because of a lose tongue, a raised hand, or a harsh voice.
Second, happiness comes to the meek Christian who realizes that he is being conformed to the image of Christ. The ancient prophet said to Israel, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”
It is an awesome thought to realize that Jesus meekly allowed Himself to be treated cruelly by His own creation. Hands reached forth one dreadful day to grab His beard, and to rip the hair from His holy face. Voices mocked Him. Mouths spit upon Him. Hardened soldiers took spikes, and pounded them through His precious hands and feet and Jesus meekly took all of the abuse, without a word.
“He could have called 10,000 angels,
To destroy the world and set Him free,
He could have called 10,000 angels
But He died alone for you and me.”
The disciples beheld the Lord, and marveled as they realized there is strength in meekness. The disciples beheld Jesus, and determined to be like Him. It was not an easy lesson for any of them.
Matthew, the disciple with the most education and the greatest financial experience found that Judas kept the money bag. James and John wanted to sit on the right hand and on the left hand of Christ in His kingdom. Not much meekness there.
Peter boasted he would die for Christ, even if all others failed Him. Though the lesson was hard to learn, learn it they did. Later, Peter began to teach Christians to put on meekness like a garment. “Meekness,” said Peter, “is in the sight of God something of great price” (1 Peter 3:4). The saints realize this, and sing.
“Oh to be like Him,
Oh to be like Him,
Pure as Thou art.
Come in Thy fullness,
Come in Thy power,
Let Thine own Spirit
Dwell in my heart.”
Third, happiness is found in meekness because of the pleasure that comes when other people are attracted to a sweet spirit. When seeking an intimate relationship with another person, it is natural to be drawn to the gentle soul.
The church of Jesus Christ has a golden opportunity to change the world, but first the Church, must change herself. The Bride of Christ must begin to be meek once more. If God is gracious He will humble His people. If the Church is wise, she will seek to be humbled. If the church is wiser still, she will look for the most humble, and the most teachable souls to put in places of leadership. They will attract others of like mind.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:24-25 that, “the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.” For a Christian who longs to know the happiness of meekness, the question comes, “How is one meek? Is there a process?” I believe there is.
First, in order to be meek a new way of thinking must be embraced. The Christian religion offers a whole new perspective on life. If the world says, “Look out for number one,” Christianity says, “Give and it shall be given unto you” (Luke 6:38). When the world advises people to get all the gusto they can out of life, the Church teaches, “In lowliness of mind prefer others better than yourself.” When the world promotes violence, intimidation, and meanness to be the way of success, the wisdom of Christ is to be meek. But it does require a new thought process, and a new self-image.
Second, much time should be spent mediating on the Person of Christ if meekness is to be manifested. By prolonged contemplation upon the Lord, His example is copied. There are many illustrations of the meekness of the Lord. When He was interrupted in His conversations or in His acts of mercy, the Lord was always very gentle with the people. When the Lord stood before Pilate, falsely accused, the Bible says that Jesus “answered to him never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly” (Matt. 27:13).
Those who would be meek will have opportunity to express this Christian virtue, sometimes through a divorce (1 Cor. 7:15); sometimes through fraud (1 Cor. 6:7); sometimes by being gracious to those which simply try to hurt others. The Bible says to bless, and curse not (Rom. 12:14).
A third part of the process in learning to be meek, is prayer. Prayer must be offered. The Lord will change those who really want to be changed.
Finally, the Holy Spirit must be given the freedom to produce in the life His fruit. The Bible says that the fruit of the Spirit is, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Personal change does not come quickly, but it will come to the person who would be happy and obedient to the Lord. The Divine promise is that the meek, and only the meek, shall inherit the earth.
The promise to inherit the earth is primarily a spiritual promise. Charles Spurgeon captured the essence of the spiritual nature of this passage as he notes that the meek are lowly-minded, and are ready to give up their portion in the earth; therefore it shall come back to them. They neither boast, nor contend, nor exult over others, yet are heirs of all the good which God has created on the face of the earth.
In their meekness they are like their King, and they shall reign with Him. The Promised Land is for the tribes of the meek: before them the Canaanites shall be driven out. He has the best of this world who thinks least of it, and least of himself.
There is a practical fulfillment of this promise. If the earth represents personal possessions, to include land, clothing, homes, and all the other earthly treasures of time, then only the meek truly possess them. The gifts of time are viewed by God’s people as the grace gifts of God to be enjoyed. Others are possessed by their property. It brings them limited joy, for there is fear of losing everything.
Perhaps the most complete fulfillment of the promise of Matthew 5:5 is reserved for the future, when at Christ’s return, the meek will inherit the new heaven and the new earth.