Blessed are the Meek
Blessed are the Meek
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Unfortunately, the English word meek or gentle, for many people, suggests weakness, or someone who is too polite, who others take advantage of; someone who is naïve, or without a moral backbone.
Jesus and Meekness
Jesus described Himself as a person who was gentle or meek (Matthew 11:29), and yet Jesus is God in the flesh. He is the same God who brought the flood, sent the plagues upon Egypt, rules the nations with a rod of iron, who will come with His angels to judge the world one day, and who will declare to many, “Depart from Me”. This same Jesus overturned tables and ran people out of the temple (John 2:15). He honestly told people the hard things they needed to hear (Matthew 16:21-23; 19:9, 21), and He fearlessly exposed the hypocrites of His day (Matthew 23:1ff).
Described negatively, meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest.
- “Gentleness of strength” (Robertson, p. 41).
- I have often been told that the idea that Jesus was getting at was something like a very powerful animal, like a stallion that had been disciplined and now its great power was useful and under control. Such a horse still has great strength, and it is still exercised but in all the right ways. You were still careful while around it, but now the power was used in constructive ways.
- Determine to be a person who is gentle when they need to be and forceful when they need to be.
- Resistance is used properly by the meek. The meek submit to God with all their might and resist the darkness with all their might.
Where You Could Be Bad
It has often been noted that the real you is how you would act in a place where no one knows you, or in a situation in which you could get away with whatever you wanted to do. What would you really act like if you could get away with it? The person who is gentle or meek is the person who knows what they might do, but voluntary chooses to live differently.
“Or do you think I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
Jesus reminded us and His disciples, on this occasion, that He had the power to easily obliterate all opposition, yet there was something far more important than His own safety and comfort. What had to take precedence over His own personal comfort, was the fact He had come (as foretold in the Scriptures) to die for our sins (Matthew 26:54). God’s will being done in God’s way was priority number one, even if it brought tremendous suffering to Himself. True strength is voluntarily under control.
Are You Truly Good or Merely Fearful?
There is a difference. Some people abstain from certain sins, not because of an inner purity or moral courage, but because they are simply afraid of getting caught. While it is healthy to realize what the consequences of sin might be (Proverbs 6-7), a mere fear of the consequences, or even a fear of hell, will not keep one on the right track over the long haul. There have been plenty of examples of fearful Christians over the ages who continued to dabble in sin. You will need more than mere fear of the consequences to overcome temptation.
Being Too Nice?
One can be polite and “nice” and yet still be anything but godly. The Christian life will demand not only courage but determination and a certain ruggedness. Because I will be called upon to crucify my flesh (Galatians 5:24), to rip out an eye that causes me to stumble (Matthew 5:29), and to give a loud and clear “no” to temptation. To call sin what it is. To make really hard choices, including putting God ahead of family (Matthew 10:37). To preach God’s truth even when the audience does not want it (2 Timothy 4:2). To admit when I am wrong. To put the needs of my wife ahead of my own. To sacrifice myself for the good of my family. To remain true to God even when faced with torture or death (Revelation 2:10).
So when you meet a person who is gentle by Bible standards, you will see their self-control and inner discipline, but you also clearly sense their strength. They are not dominated by fear. Neither are they governed by laziness or lack of imagination. They are not naïve, they know what happens in the world, they know how evil people think, and so they are prepared and ready for battle. They know when people are seeking to flatter them, they know when someone is trying to bait them into a trap, and they will have none of it.
Jesus spoke of His disciples being harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16), yet this never meant that we are simply to be rubber stamps for other people. The innocent or harmless people of which Jesus was speaking are also compared to a well armed infantry soldier who is on the front line in the battle (Ephesians 6:10-18).
The Logical Progression in the Sermon on the Mount
Here is the person that comes to the realization of their own spiritual poverty, that in turns mourns over their sins, and the hurt they have caused to others, especially to God. The next step in maturity would be, “Do I react with gratitude to the correction God has offered?” Especially, how do I react when God calls me a sinner? I can run. I can get mad. Or, I can humble myself and use my strength to submit to and serve God.
The Incredible Strength Required
Consider the inner strength required by the last beautitude: Hounded non-conformists, hated even to the point of death, must possess unwavering conviction, dauntless bravery, and remarkable self-control.
“For they shall inherit the Earth”
The background of this statement is found in the 37th Psalm: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness” (37:11). The clear lesson from this psalm is that the good guys will finish first. When the Psalm was written, God's people were already in the land. Hence inheriting the land or the earth always meant something far more than just possessing it. What the world struggles to gain through self-centeredness, pushing and shoving, doing it their way, getting what's coming to them, and so on, the humble Christian inherits. At the moment it may look like, from a worldly point of view, that the humble Christian is forfeiting present “happiness” in the form of various sinful pleasures. Paul pointed out that even though he presently had little, in reality he possessed it all: 2 Corinthians 6:10 “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things”.
Inheriting the Earth
- Christians can enjoy this life more fully than sinners because they enjoy whatever God sends. The wicked, in their rush to possess, usually overlook the best of this world. By not opting for instant gratification or sacrificing our future for today’s short-lived pleasures, we truly get the most out of what life has to offer.
- Since inheriting the land or earth was promised while Israel possessed the land, the expression must stand for really enjoying God’s blessings.The Bible clearly teaches that the physical universe will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-11), thus inheriting the earth never meant that Christians will live on this earth forever or that this earth will be our heaven (Matthew 6:19ff). Christians have the character that guarantees to them a greater measure of happiness, peace, contentment, and stability. In other words, we have the mindset that allows us to savor and enjoy the things and experiences of this life.
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017