Scripture: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 ESV
Observation: The Greek word praus, translated as “meek,” is not easily understood. More often, we hear it coupled with “mild.” But it means much more than that. Its use in the Roman Empire developed from training war horses: its trainer would teach the horse to restrain its strength under his guidance. Its Greek origin stemmed from the philosophers and connoted humility and wisdom, but over time it denigrated to condescension and became a pejorative. The Hebrew word for “meek,” anava, appears four times in the Old Testament and conveys humility or modesty:
- Moses’ humble character: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3 ESV).
- David’s psalm of assurance for the saints: “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (Psalm 37:11 ESV).
- Isaiah’s messianic prophecy about the righteous reign from the branch of Jesse: “but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth” (Isaiah 11:4 ESV).
- Isaiah’s prophecy of Jerusalem’s demise and eventual restoration: “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 29:19 ESV).
While David’s prophetic words best align with Jesus’ third beatitude, all four citations imply that a meek disposition expresses itself in relationships (more to be said below).
Takeaway: D.A. Carson suggests, “To be meek toward others implies freedom from malice and a vengeful spirit” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew). Indeed, sinless Jesus, while forthrightly calling out hypocrites, never treated others with malice or a vengeful spirit. But it is more than abstaining from wrongful behavior toward others. Self-identified as the Son of Man, Christ invited others to share their burdens with him because he is “gentle and lowly” (Matthew 11:29). Thus, meekness is expressed outwardly in the godly, self-sacrificing treatment of others.
So how do we develop a meek disposition? It is a tall order, particularly when interacting with contentious people. Thus, we desperately need the grace of God working in and through us. It is particularly challenging for the quick-witted who can push back and put disrespectful people in their place. But that only escalates discord. Instead, suppose we restrain our strength (exercising humility) and respond respectfully as an adult to an adult (even if they are acting childishly). No matter how they counter us, we will press the boundaries of Christ’s grace and our “earthly inheritance” and appropriate Christ’s “abundant peace,” at least to ourselves. Thus, meek-minded people who develop this humble disposition enlarge their territory by drawing out the best in others and the better version of themselves. Indeed, the meek are blessed and inherit the earth!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your meek Son who graciously and patiently invested in a ragamuffin group of disciples who, by the power of your Holy Spirit, pressed the boundaries of your kingdom, preaching and living out our Gospel of grace and peace. So would you please help us cooperate with our Holy Spirit and mature in our disposition to become meek-minded kingdom growers? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
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