Blessed Are the Meek: The Virtue of humility and Strength

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The virtue of meekness

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

In this third beatitude, Christ is showing believers the way to true blessedness or happiness. This beatitude brings us, in a natural progression, from being poor in spirit, and mourning and repenting of our sin, to namely, the virtue of meekness. The believer is ready to yield to God's will and be used for His glory.

Meekness - a colt, a breeze, a soothing medicine

What image does meekness conjure up in your mind? A mousey, dutiful wife at the hands of overbearing husband? The prey of a bully? A weak wimp? Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the strongest people who have ever lived were meek.

Meek in the Greek is the word praus, meaning mildness or gentleness of spirit, soft. In the context of this verse, meekness is humility toward God and people. Some have described meekness as "having the right or the power to do something, but refraining for the benefit of someone else."

The word praus could be used to describe a gentle breeze, a soothing medicine, or a colt that has been broken in.

To elaborate, let's look at the colt analogy. A colt who is unbroken runs free and wild. He is out of control and cannot be of any use until he is broken in. When the master puts bit and bridle on him and breaks him in, he becomes a submissive, gentle, and self-controlled animal, ready to be of use to his master.

A gentle breeze is a wind under control. It is soft, and gentle, but yet it pushes a windmill to create power.

A soothing medicine is strong, because it works powerfully to heal the ailment or disease, but when its work is complete, there is healing and comfort.

Many have defined meek as strength under control. There were many in the Bible who were strong, but under the control of or in submission to God. They allowed God to put the bit and bridle in their mouths and tame them to obedience. The bit and bridle are not comfortable at first, but after continued use the horse learns that it his control and submission that earns the pleasure of his master. So it is with God.

Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon was gifted with powerful, clarifying, words.
Spurgeon was gifted with powerful, clarifying, words. | Source

Deeper interpretation of meekness

Charles Spurgeon offers penetrating clarity on meekness:

"With such a happy, contented spirit as that, those who are meek do not quarrel with God. They do not talk, as some foolish people do, of having been born under a wrong planet, and placed in circumstances unfavorable to their development. And even when they are smitten by God's rod, they do not rebel against him, and call him a hard Master; but they are either dumb with silence, and open not their mouth because God hath done it, or if they do speak, it is to ask for grace that the trial they are enduring may be sanctified to them, or they may even rise so high in grace as to glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon them."

Spurgeon's words echo Vines' interpretation,

"In its deeper use in Scripture, in which is has a fuller, deeper significance that in nonscriptural Greek writings, it consists not in a person's "outward behavior only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition, Rather it is an inwroght grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is the temper of spirit in which we accept His dealing with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting..."

As you will see, the following men in the Bible emulate meekness in this way.

“Jesus calls us to his rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.” ― A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God

The Apostle Paul

The world sees Paul as a proud, arrogant, even controlling man, always saying "Be like me; follow my example; believe what I know is truth." But Paul lived a life of meekness. John MacArthur summed up Paul's meekness this way:

"In Philippians 3:3 Paul says, "[We] have no confidence in the flesh," but in Philippians 4:13 he says, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me." Paul was a meek man because he put no confidence in himself but had great confidence in Christ."

To fully grasp the meaning of Paul's "...no confidence in the flesh" statement, we need to read verses 4-11 (to read it in its entirety use the link). In a nutshell, Paul proceeds prove to the Philippians that if anyone has reason to have confidence in himself it would be him. Then checked off his impressive list of credentials before his conversion to Christ. He had been a highly respected Jew with a distinguished pedigree, had the finest religious education, and an illustrious career as a Pharisee; a man of privilege and power. He wielded that power with tenacity as a persecutor of the Church.

Then he stunned the Philippians with his attitude of humility,

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as a loss for the sake of Christ. I indeed count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (vs. 7-8). In verse 9 he says he counts these things as rubbish compared to gaining Christ.

Over and over, Paul proved his attitude of meekness. He dedicated his life to serving Christ throughout the known world by preaching the good news of Jesus Christ and planting churches despite the persecution and horrific trials through the years. What an astonishing list of trials he faced:

  • Was put in prison over and over
  • Was flogged an uncounted number of times
  • Faced death over and over
  • Received 39 lashes from the Jews 5 times
  • Was beaten with rods 3 times
  • Was stoned one time
  • Was shipwrecked 3 times
  • Spent a day and night in the sea
  • Was in continual danger from rivers and robbers
  • Was in danger from his own countrymen, as well as the Gentiles
  • Was in danger in the city, in the country, at sea, and from false brothers
  • Was weary and in pain often, without sleep
  • Was often hungry and thirsty, cold and naked
  • And experienced daily anxiety about the health of all of the churches

This was only a partial list. Paul eventually was martyred for his faith. The point is, in meekness he gave up a life of power and privilege to love and serve God.

Paul, forsook all his power and prestige as a Pharisee like these, to follow Christ.
Paul, forsook all his power and prestige as a Pharisee like these, to follow Christ. | Source

Moses

Numbers 12:3 tells us "The man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth." Yet, he was a mighty and courageous leader. He willingly endured great hardship so that God would be glorified and his people would worship God. Anyone who can stand up to the proud and imposing Pharaoh is not a wimp or weakling. God gave him strength because he allowed God to put bit and bridle on him, and lead him with strength. God used him in a mighty way to deliver the children of Israel.

But it didn't stop there. Until the end of his life, Moses led the children of Israel for forty long years, going in circles in an unforgiving desert because the people were constantly and consistently rebelling and complaining. They threatened Moses and blamed him and God for every trial that came along. The trials were the result of their stubborn refusal to trust and obey God through the voice of Moses. Moses had to be the meekest man of earth (prior to Christ) to continue to intercede for the wicked, faithless, and ungrateful people of God. That generation, and Moses himself, never entered the promised land. God did bless Moses with a view of it. But he died and the baton was passed on to Joshua.

Joseph

If anyone had reason to be bitter and retaliatory, it would be Joseph. He was thrown in a pit and sold to slave traders by his jealous and wicked brothers; he was sold to Potipher who was a kind master and gave Joseph control over all his affairs, only to be thrown into prison by him over false allegations of rape by his lustful wife. In prison, he proved himself so trustworthy, the warden put him in charge of the prisoners. Two friends who were released promised to put in a good word for him with the king, but failed to do so for another two years. Talk about ups and downs, highs and lows!

Joseph finally got a break and through a series of events, became second in command to Pharaoh of Egypt in charge of the food supply while the rest of the world was in a famine. When his brothers showed up seeking food, It was the perfect opportunity to get revenge for the suffering they caused him. But in submission and obedience to God, Joseph had the strength and character to offer grace and compassion and forgiveness to his brothers. The blessing of reconciliation was far more valuable and rewarding than retaliation.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the greatest example of meekness. The world, in their ignorance, find Jesus' meekness revolting because Jesus didn't resist his own arrest and crucifixion; He didn't contest the trumped up charges against Himself. The world sees Him as being a weak man. Paul tells us quite the opposite in Philippians 2:6-8:

"...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." (ESV)

Jesus wasn't being a cowardly wimp. He relinquished Himself of His Divine prerogatives and took on the form of a human servant - what humility! He humbled Himself to the point of going to the cross (when He could have stopped it) and dying in our place.

His meekness is an example to us, of His submission to the Father's will for the benefit of mankind. That is strength (and love) my friends, not weakness.

Jesus humbled Himself, not asserting His divine power at His trial.
Jesus humbled Himself, not asserting His divine power at His trial. | Source

Inheriting the earth - the reward of meek Christian

The reward for the meek Christian is that he will inherit the earth. What does that mean? In the Greek language, "inherit" means to receive by lot, or to receive an alloted portion, or to possess an alotted portion. In context of this beatitude on the virtue of meekness, John McArthur explains in more detail,

"The earth is the alotted portion of believers, who will reign with the Lord when He comes in His kingdom (Rev, 20:6)...As a recipient of God's promises, you should be thrilled knowing that you will inherit the earth and reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom...Rejoice in that assurance, and seek to be all He wants you to be until that great day."

Christ's earthly kingdom will be established when He returns, and His people will reign with Him.

I love the word "with" in this phrase. He will be physically present; we will see Him, touch Him, and hear Him. That is a reward no believer can resist. It behooves every believer to grow in their intimate relationship with God and to become (by obedience) what He desires us to be. I'd say that's a wonderful reward indeed.

Books on the Beatitudes From Amazon

Heirs to the King: Living the Beatitudes
Heirs to the King: Living the Beatitudes

This inspiring study of the Beatitudes shows how to reign over ego, power, and appetite. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the believer can live like a king.

 
The Only Way To Happiness: The Beatitudes (Foundations of the Faith)
The Only Way To Happiness: The Beatitudes (Foundations of the Faith)

MacArthur examines Jesus' timeless definition of happiness, and explains that our reward for following Jesus' plan is citizenship in the kingdom of God- and an abiding joy that can never be taken away.

 

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Comments 12 comments

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Meekness is a quality not everyone shares or has. Some are simply crude and rough, no matter how hard they might try. We all try as we will to show meekness as best we can though.

Brother Dave.


fred allen profile image

fred allen 6 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I was sorely tempted to yell at God for all the ways I was being tested yesterday. It was one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong. My patience was worn thin. I did vent a little to an empty room and was quickly reminded that I have much room for growth. It silenced me and in time quieted my spirit. Lord forgive my temporary insanity. I'm thankful You helped reign it in and put it in the proper perspective. It was meant to expose an area of growth. I look forward to a better response next time.

Great hub! Thank you.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Sorry to cut in But Hey Fred, go ahead and yell at God, use Him as your sounding board to get out your frustrations and anxieties, He understands, but remember though He might want his turn, someday down the road, then lookout.

Brother Dave.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 6 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Lambservant,

Thanks for some more insight. Thanks especially for distinguishing between "meek" and "weak". Keep on keeping on!


couturepopcafe profile image

couturepopcafe 6 years ago

This is a great series. Thanks.


aimer 4 years ago

Love this!


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Thank you aimer. God bless you.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Another great lesson on the Beatitudes. I'm learning more about Paul than I ever have before.

I love the in depth way you have described meek.

Thank you - Audrey


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Hi Audrey, I went to such great lengths because of the dominant misconception of meekness. I found it an interesting study. Yes, the Apostely Paul had quite a life. Again, a dominant misconception about his personality and character pervades non-believers and even some believers who have not read comprehensively his books. Thanks for reading and commenting. Oh I see you are from Idylwild. My mom lived there when she passed. I loved it up there. Blessings my friend.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

The "strength under control" is my best definition of meek as used in the Bible. Jesus is the best example of this. I appreciate your listing these examples of Hom. It helps to know how much he demonstrated it for us. Blessings.


DealForALiving profile image

DealForALiving 2 years ago from Earth

Thank you for writing this as I'm not familiar with the concept or definition of "meek".


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Deal, I am glad you were able to learn something here. Thank you for stopping by.

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