“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?”
“Who is inheriting the earth?”
These are good questions that deserve an answer.
The first part of the beatitude presents no major problem. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.” The word meek denotes a mild, gentle spirit, a spirit that is not characterized by explosive anger, or, immediate irritation followed by verbal criticism, and cruel comments.
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 (Num. 12:3). The lives of the saints consistently manifest the cultivation of the virtue of meekness. Certainly, Jesus was meek, for we read that He,“made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:7, 8).
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 does 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 calmly reports real acts of random violence. No one is safe, at night, or during the day. 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, more gentle 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, especially those in the family. Many people will relocate rather than be around someone who is not kind, but cruel and rude. In the Christian home, when meekness is lost, the true disciple of Christ will come under holy conviction, and be ashamed at the short-tempered remarks made.
They will kneel to say, “I am so sorry. I will be different.”
Sometimes a spouse will find that they are too forceful. The words of Peter are to be remembered. Christians are to cultivate “a meek and quiet spirit.”
The spirit of meekness will compel a Christian to turn away from using temperamental verbal forcefulness, to find a more gentle way to communicate. When adults 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 with their words and willfulness. Brothers and sisters fight, and call each other names. They antagonize and torment each other in the most ingenious ways. Dr. James Dobson says sibyl fighting cannot be stopped, only refereed.
It is not easy to teach children 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, which wound and scar the hearts of others. There is joy, there is great happiness in knowing that someone else will not be offended because of a loose tongue, a raised fist, or a harsh voice. There is also favor with God.
Second, happiness comes to those who realizes they are 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” (Zechariah 9:9). 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 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 Thee,
Oh, to be like Thee,
Pure as Thou art.
Come in Thy fullness,
Come in Thy power,
Let Thine own Spirit
Dwell in my heart.”
~Thomas O. Chisholm
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 a violent and self-centered world, but first, the Church, must change herself. The Bride of Christ must begin to be meek once more.
One way this process can begin is to listen to one another, instead of dividing in the name of unity.
Another way, is to learn to co-operate in the work of the ministry, instead of compete. 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, “the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24, 25).
For a Christian who longs to have God’s favor, and 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. “When the world advises people to get all the gusto they can out of life, the Church teaches, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
When the world promotes violence, intimidation, and meanness to be the way of success, the wisdom of Christ is to be meek. However, 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 in a surprising way, such as a divorce, for example, (1 Cor. 7:15);
or by being cheated (1 Cor. 6:7);
or by stepping in to say something gracious to someone being verbally abused.
Christians can be cruel, or we can be meek and kind.
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 bow before Him in humility and with supplication.
“I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalms 81:10).
Let us open our mouths wide, and ask to be meek, kind, and tender-hearted people.
Of course, it is the Holy Spirit who must produce His fruit in our lives.
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 favored, 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 when he noted 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, and literal fulfillment of the promise of Jesus in Matthew 5:5.
If the earth represents personal possessions to include land, clothing, homes, and all the other earthly treasures of time, then only the meek can truly possess them, for they alone know the source of all blessing.
“Come, thou Fount of every blessing;
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of God’s unchanging love!”
“My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.
I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.”
~Hattie E. Buell
The gifts of time are viewed by God’s people as the grace gifts of God to be enjoyed.
There is no need to feel guilty for having whatever material prosperity God has been pleased to give.
In contrast, many people are possessed by their property.
It brings them limited joy, because there is fear of losing everything.
Perhaps the most complete fulfillment of the promise of Matthew 5:5 is reserved for the future when Christ’s returns, the second time, for all who believe.
Then, the meek will forever inherit the new heaven, and the new earth.
It will be enough.