When was the last time you asked God to make you meek?
It’s not a quality of character to which many aspire. People think meekness is being so passive that people walk all over you. Meekness means that you’re flabby and spineless and lacking in strength.
Those who get attention and who progress in this world are the ones with great self-confidence and assertiveness. But if you’re a pushover, you won’t get very far. I once saw a T-shirt: The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing. We reject notions of being meek, like the one taught in Matthew 5:5,
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Instead, the undercurrent of pride in our hearts means we will always lean toward self-righteous and self-important behaviour.
Given a few moments, we could probably think of a few people in our life who are marked by his character trait: they are proud. They tend to boast about all their good accomplishments. They would rather be talking than listening, and they have a critical spirit toward others.
We can think of proud people, but pride isn’t just the specialty of a few. We all know about it, because pride is the sin of forgetting that God is Creator, and that we are only creatures. In fact, pride is on display every time we sin, because we are following our own way: “I’m not going to listen to God at this moment, but I’m going to make this choice according to my insights.” Sin is proudly saying that we know better than God.
Again, we may think that’s not us. Yet look carefully. How highly do we regard ourselves? How much confidence do we place in our abilities and possessions, or in the life we’ve made for ourselves here on earth? We have many good things going for us, so we struggle to rest in the Lord alone. This is pride, not meekness.
You can also see pride in our judgmental attitudes. Usually we reach the conclusion that other people are not as good as us. They’re bad parents. They dress weird or smell funny or don’t speak well. They’re boring and stiff. This is pride, not meekness.
In the original Greek, the word translated as ‘meek’ is often used to describe a domesticated animal. Think of a loyal dog that is trained to obey your words of command, or a horse which has become obedient to the reins. The meek quietly submit themselves to God and show humility toward all people.
By nature, we all want to be ‘off the leash’ and do whatever we want. Yet by his Spirit, God helps us to be meek, where we begin to submit to him.
Christ is saying, “You are blessed when you have your instincts under control. Blessed is the person who doesn’t give in to every impulse—who doesn’t say whatever comes to her mind, who doesn’t need to click on every link, or watch every show, or eat anything that looks good. But blessed is the one who has his desires and emotions in check, who has them under control for God.”
If pride is exalting ourselves against God and over other people, then meekness is being willing to submit to God and to others.
Meekness toward God is where this blessed lifestyle begins. We acknowledge there is not a moment in the day that is not under his control, not one outcome that isn’t already decided by him. We can make plans about upgrading our car or home, getting married, finding this kind of career, and improving ourselves in various ways. But then we remember who is God and Lord. Meekness is saying,
If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.
Submission to him means that you can be well-satisfied with your place in life, for it has been lovingly assigned to you by God. For our part, that is making the decision—every day again—to acknowledge God’s wise commands. Unlike any human, He makes no mistake, and He is always seeking our good. So we trust in him, we rest in him, we commit our way to God and we seek his blessing.
The same spirit comes out through meekness toward other people. Being meek means that we are willing to submit to them, and be gracious toward them, and forgiving of their shortcomings. For we know it is better to live in gentle submission. And if there is any doubt about this being the right way to live, consider how Christ was the very model of this kind of meekness.
Think of what He said in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When He says, “I am gentle,” it is the same Greek word as is translated “meek” in our text.
Meekness was the pattern of Christ’s life. He would not walk according to his own understanding, but follow the perfect wisdom of God his Father. Consider too, how Jesus responded to people around him. He took abuse from the wicked, and He did not react with hostility, but actually protected his enemies. He was gentle and meek.
And now underline what Jesus says in Matthew 11, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” He invites us to follow his example of true meekness. Such meekness has the power to transform our relationships.
Think of a marriage where a husband and wife are willing to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ, instead of bickering over their rights.
Think of a church where the members lovingly accept each other, and are patient with each other, and show grace to all.
Think of a family where there is forgiveness of past wrongs, and where there is gentleness in dealing with the struggles of daily life.
In every relationship, the path of meekness is the path to blessing.
For it is Jesus’s way.