Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Meek. It’s not a word we hear very often anymore. And, when we do, it’s usually not considered a compliment. Biblically, the word means “humble.” Another word, not necessarily considered a positive attribute in our “dog-eat-dog” world where aggressiveness and brashness are rewarded.
Yet, meekness was a characteristic Jesus used to describe Himself. Matthew records this: “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29). In II Corinthians 10:1 Paul referred to “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” It is in I Peter 3:4, we read that the true adorning is said to be that of “a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price.”
Meekness should not be interpreted as weakness. One commentary observes, “Toward men this disposition is the opposite of high-mindedness, and a quarrelsome and revengeful spirit; it “rather takes wrong, and suffers itself to be defrauded” (1 Corinthians 6:7); it “avenges not itself, but rather gives place unto wrath” (Romans 12:19); like the meek One, “when reviled, it reviles not again; when it suffers, it threatens not; but commits itself to Him that judgeth righteously” (I Peter 2:19-22).
One writer made these observations about this third beatitude:
“The third beatitude puzzles many people in the workplace, in part because they don’t understand what it means to be meek. Many assume the term means weak, tame, or deficient in courage. But the biblical understanding of meekness is power under control. In the Old Testament, Moses was described as the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3, KJV). Jesus described himself as “meek and lowly” (Matthew 11:28-29, KJV), which was consistent with his vigorous action in cleansing the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). Power under God’s control means two things: (1) refusal to inflate our own self-estimation; and (2) reticence to assert ourselves for ourselves. Paul captures the first aspect perfectly in Romans 12:3. “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
It is the meek among us who are able to see themselves realistically and intentionally as servants of God and people, careful in how they esteem themselves. Meekness allows a person to understand and accept their own limitations, define their own strengths. Meekness does not demand, however, that skills, abilities, and strengths are to be denied. Instead, they are to be used in service to God and others.
Now, about this “inheriting the earth…” Sometimes we would look around and see the sin and insanity that is rampant along with the diminishing natural resources and the increasing list of endangered species – including unborn humans –and the question is viable – who wants to inherit this?
To understand the intent of these words rather than the literalness of them, we must go back to the Psalm containing the same reference. Psalm 37:3 reads, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” This inheritance of the Lord is not the physical earth; it is the benefits of His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not for the proud and the haughty, the condescending and critical ones. The Kingdom of God is given as an inheritance to those who trust Him and depend on Him – the meek. The poor in spirit, who know their need of God, the mourning ones who look to Him for comfort, those who are meek in spirit, action, and attitude will possess the Kingdom because of God’s grace toward them.
One writer observed,
“Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth, they will inherit the land. Knowing our spiritual poverty turns us toward Jesus, mourning for our sins and the suffering of the world causes us to look for the comfort of God’s presence and being meek causes us to trust God’s sovereignty, trusting that He will do what He has said He will do. So we keep on waiting and doing the things we know God calls us to do; deepen our love for God deepen our love for one another and deepen our care for justice and the least. It allows us to treat people with grace and forgiveness, gentleness and patience. We find meekness leads to peace because in the end it deals with trusting God to be God and with not trying to do His job.”