Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
As you read the Lord’s perhaps familiar words, is it hard to abandon the idea of “meek” as shy, retiring, even timid? What does this really look like?
I have a friend, a former co-worker, who is friendly, outgoing and fun. She helps others with eagerness and encouragement, and she is equally able to remain in the background or step forward to lead. I have never heard her say a negative word about another person. Notably, I have never heard her even imply expectation of praise or other reward for herself. This is remarkable to me, not only because of her consistent graciousness, but because she did not grow up with an atmosphere or with examples of supportive kindness. But as a young woman, she met and believed in Jesus Christ, and her life was changed. Her demonstration of meekness comes not from training but from transformation by the Holy Spirit. There is no need for assertiveness or complaint on behalf of herself, because in Jesus, everything she needs is already hers.
Jesus, who exemplified the perfection of meekness, did not mean “blessed are those who sit in the back of the room and don’t say anything.” He was not describing debilitating self-deprecation or fear of failure. He did mean submission, first to God, with trust in Him that allows us to put others first.
Insight into ourselves will accompany this meekness—knowledge of our sin that every day makes us dependent on our Redeemer. As we know Him better we will love Him more profoundly, and that love energizes obedience, and His Spirit, as we ask Him, remakes us to seek His agenda and His likeness.
This spirit-deep change motivates sacrificial actions toward others. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8) We are called to this meekness because it characterized Him.
Furthermore, we are called to meekness with blessing. Human culture sees the promotion, the bonus, the awards going to the self-confident. Jesus counters that it is the meek—those humbly following Him—who will have everything. Those who live for Him will demonstrate His life-giving power in the conflict-wounded, sin-corrupted world now, but another heaven and earth will be our inheritance, the world recreated, where “the dwelling place of God is with man.” (Revelation 21:3-4) This is the destiny of the meek, in the magnificent might of Jesus.