We have four children. I can remember when we brought our youngest (and last) child home from the hospital. The children were all older and Justin was a little baby (though he was near 10 pounds). They wanted to play with their younger brother, but we cautioned them to be gentle. They needed to treat this little newborn with gentleness. This is the idea behind the word ‘meek’ in Jesus’ 3rd beatitude.
“Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? We think that it is the high-energy, powerful, pushy person – the big wheeler-dealer- who gets ahead. This beatitude goes against all popular theories of success.
Does this mean we are never to speak up and defend ourselves? Does this mean we should allow ourselves to be doormats, letting people trample over us?
I hope you will learn about ‘meekness’.
I want to introduce you to a unique Greek word. It is the word praus. I want to tell you what it meant in ancient times. To Aristotle, the virtues of life were always defined as the middle between too much and too little of a virtue. An example is if too much of a virtue is a spendthrift and too little is a miser, the middle ground would be the virtue – a generous person. To Aristotle, the middle ground between too much anger and no anger at all was praus. It was a balance.
Praus was used to describe good medicine. Too much would kill you and too little wouldn’t do anything. It was used to describe a gentle breeze. Too little and it wouldn’t move a ship, too much and it would sink one. It was used to describe a colt that had been broken and domesticated. Potentially dangerous but tame. It was used of a power that was under control. The English word is meekness – power under control.
Our society has the wrong perception of meekness. Meekness is not idleness or laziness. Nor is it simply being a nice person. To be meek is not weakness in personality or character. And it is definitely not being a push-over or doormat for people to walk over.
What is meekness?
1. It is a balanced attitude about oneself.
It is a true view of oneself, expressing itself in right attitudes toward others, like mild, gentle, patient, long-suffering, ready to listen and learn.
2. It is a natural following of the first two beatitudes.
When a person really sees self as spiritually impoverished (1st beatitude) and mourns over that sin (2nd beatitude), there is a personal recognition that nobody can say anything about him that is too bad. He is amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and trust him as well as they do.
3. It is being honest with yourself.
You can be honest with yourself but it is difficult to let other people say things like that about you. We would rather condemn ourself than let others do it. We may be a sinner, but we do not like anybody else to say we are a sinner. However, being meek is a realization that without Christ we have no righteousness or goodness of our own.
Why is meekness so important?
1. It is a virtue.
Jesus was meek (Matthew 11:29). It is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). It should characterize our response to God’s truth (James 1:21). It is the spirit we are to have when we witness to others (1 Peter 3:15). It is the spirit we are to have when we deal with problems (Galatians 6:1).
“Anyone can become angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way – this is not easy.” – Aristotle
2. The meek will inherit the earth.
The world associates happiness with worldly possessions, and it believes that the way to gain them is through ability, strength, hard work, self assurance and at times assertion. But Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth.
Spiritual inheritance (Psalm 37:11, 16) – The meek man is the man who is satisfied and therefore content (James 1:3,4). When you are meek, you want nothing for yourself; and when you want nothing for yourself, God gives you everything. Meekness is the secret of possessing everything.
You can read my other Sermon on the Mount articles: Life Redefined: Sermons from The Sermon on the Mount.