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  • Writer's pictureRobert Phillips

The Beatitudes: Meekness

Updated: Apr 8

In Psalm 37:10-13, we read these words from David:

"In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming."

David understood meekness because he had to exercise it constantly in patience with unjust treatment. David teaches us to look forward to Jesus for both the example of hope and the fulfillment of hope. This is why Jesus so often quotes David, and this statement about meekness is no exception.


In Matthew 5:5, Jesus echoes these words of David when He teaches, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." We learn from all our study of the beatitudes up to this point that if we don’t recognize our spiritual poverty and are not in a state of mourning over our own struggles with sin, then we cannot be meek. The beatitudes build one upon the next.



Meekness By Definition


What is meekness? The best description is "strength under control". It combines humility and gentleness. The greek word "praus" is a word used to communicate the idea of having such a confidence in your strength, wisdom or authority that you don’t need to actually use it to prove it. Meekness is a gentle giant. The giant is gentle because he knows he has nothing to fear, and there is a stigma of violence, so gentleness is the prescribed course of action to be close to people.


The world teaches us to fight for position, power and prosperity. The Gospel teaches us to accept what God brings and respond with a gentleness that looks like contented settledness. This looks like someone who has no reason or need to prove themselves. They know their own quality and accomplishment. Insecure leaders are never meek. Most of the injury I have suffered has been from insecure people who question every motive and fight every different opinion. These people are the opposite of meek because they are insecure in who they are, which means they don’t understand who Christ is within them, if indeed He was ever there to begin with.


If you don’t believe in God’s sovereign authority over all of life, then you cannot be truly meek. Meekness stems from confidence in God, and the peace and settledness that comes with that confidence. John Stott says about meekness: “Meekness is a true view of one’s self, expressed in attitude and conduct with respect to others. This makes us gentle, humble, sensitive, and patient in all our dealings with others."


John Bunyan, the author of the famous book Pilgrim's Progress, wrote the book while imprisoned for preaching outside of a sanctioned Anglican church. During his 12-year imprisonment in the 1600’s, his wife gave birth to a stillborn as she sought to hold the family together in his absence. Bunyan never gave up hope, never stopped preaching and never stopped writing. He closed on of his poems with these words: “He that is down needs fear no fall, He that is low no pride. He that is humble ever shall have God to be his guide.”  - John Bunyan


If you don't believe in God's sovereign authority over all of life, then you cannot be truly meek.

Meekness By Example


Jesus was the greatest example we have of meekness in action. He demonstrated this meekness during His triumphal entry. He should have ridden into Jerusalem on a white war horse like other conquering royalty. Instead, He rode a donkey as a sign of peace and gentleness (Matthew 21:1-5).


Jesus was also the ultimate example during His trial and execution (Matthew 27:11-14). Pilate asked many questions of Jesus, but Jesus didn’t give an answer. He didn’t need to…for a couple of reasons:

  1. The questions were insultingly beneath Him, and the Bible instructs us not to give an answer to a fool. (Prov. 26:4-5)

  2. He understood that no amount of defending Himself would change the narrative. The people were unbelieving, and God’s plan for Jesus to die was unrelenting. His non-answer was a soft response. (Proverbs 15:1-2)


Jesus, Others, You


The most important way we practice meekness is understanding that the source of our JOY is Jesus, Others, You. Understanding meekness helps us see how we approach relationships.

  • Selfishness is wanting everything for yourself at the expense of others. This attitude is easy to see, and easy to hate.

  • Self-centeredness is thinking the world revolves around you. This attitude is also easy to see, but is often dismissed as a lack of maturity or a trauma response.

  • Self-focus is manipulating everything you do so that you receive a benefit. This attitude can be difficult to see in yourself or others, and is often source of narcissism. Self-focus turns to self-centeredness which turns to selfishness. Start dealing with self-focus, and you will deal with all three.

Meekness is first about Jesus, then about Others, and only then about You. Much of our social anxiety actually comes from self-focus which translates to control. We need to work hard to see others with interest and care. God has our back in these efforts!


True meekness is injurious to ourselves because it means being a living sacrifice for God’s glory. Meekness asks the question: “God, what are you asking me to give?” rather than “God, what are the results supposed to be?”It is important to remember that Jesus is building a structure or frame of what a believer looks like before He tells us what a Christian does. So, how does this beatitude connect to the other beatitudes already mentioned? When we are poor in spirit, we recognize our need for the Savior. When we recognize our need for a Savior, we also mourn over our broken internal condition. When we realize we have nothing on offer that is worth boasting about in our broken internal condition, Jesus then becomes our boast and we do everything we can to put him forward as the only hope and peace in this world. The result is that God entrusts more of the world to us, not in material, but in influence for the kingdom of Heaven!


True meekness is injurious to ourselves because it means being a living sacrifice for God's glory.

Walking In "Meekness Shoes"


If meekness could be defined by a pair of shoes, what would those shoes be? Would they be sandals like Jesus wore? Would they be humble work boots used to do hard work? The truth is, meekness isn’t defined by the shoes we wear, it’s defined by how we walk in our shoes.

  • Walking toward a difficult relationship or away from a toxic relationship.

  • Walking with someone who slows our pace with neediness.

  • Walking with a limp, but walking to the best of our ability.

  • Walking a redundant path God has asked s to continue walking.

  • Walking in the footsteps of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for others.

The path of meekness is one Jesus walked perfectly. Let us ask Him for His "meekness shoes" as we follow in His steps!


References

Stott, J. (2020). Beatitudes: Developing spiritual character. INTERVARSITY Press.

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