Blessed are the Meek

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

Modern Christianity, with its emphasis on believers aggressively asserting themselves, has no room for meekness. They wrongly argue that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12), means that we have to aggressively assert ourselves and our claim to the Kingdom. To them meekness is synonymous with weakness. In these virulent and forceful forms of dominionist theology being meek is equal to being a failure in the Kingdom.

Yet, the teaching of all of Scripture is not that we must be assertive, but that we should be meek. The first mention of this word is in Numbers 12:3 where it speaks of Moses, the greatest leader of all time: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” Jesus was spoken of as “meek , and sitting upon an ass” (Matthew 21:5). It is therefore incumbent upon us to not only understand what meekness is but to learn meekness from Jesus who said: “I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul” (Matthew 11:29).

Meekness is not limpwristedness, weakness or passivity. Meekness is strength under God’s control. Jesus exhibited this perfectly. Who was stronger than He? He could have called legions of angels to defend Himself and to deliver Him from those who so cruelly mocked and crucified Him. He could have destroyed His enemies with one single word. But He surrendered Himself fully to the Father’s will and did not for one moment assert Himself or His rights.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7). Pilate marveled that He did not say a single word in His own defense and that He was silent in the face of so many lies and false accusations (Matthew 27:14).

The secret to Jesus’ restraint lay in the fact that He knew that the real power did not lie in the hands of Caesar or of the soldiers but in the hands of the Almighty. We catch a glimpse of this truth when Jesus said: “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). Jesus had fully surrendered His will to that of the Father and He knew that Pilate was simply a tool in His Father’s hand to fulfill His Glorious will. “[Jesus] who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1Peter 2:23).

Here lies one of the secrets to true meekness. Meekness becomes a reality, rather than a theory, when we finally realize that God is working out His sovereign will in our lives and that every situation and every person, we come across is simply a tool in the hands of the Father. It is therefore futile to fight with the tool as though it is something we need to overcome. We need to see the hand behind the tool and surrender to Him and His dealings in our lives.

Saul was a real fighter. He fought for the rights of his people and to defend his faith. He was so zealous that he was willing to travel huge distances and even to kill in order to achieve his goals. In the process he was fighting with, and kicking against, the very goads that God was using to guide him to a meeting with the Resurrected Christ. At that meeting Jesus said to him: “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14). The goads or pricks were sometimes attached to the front of the cart to teach the oxen not to kick against the cart and to bring them to a point of submission where they would willingly do the will of the master.

Only oxen that had not learnt submission and meekness kick against the goads, the others have learnt that they are wasting their time and willingly submit to the will of the master. In the same way, Christians who are constantly agitated and fighting have not learnt meekness and are fighting against the very things that God is using to guide and to train them.
In countries where oxen are still used to pull carts or plows, young, untamed oxen are often yoked together with older, more mature and calmer animals so that the wild one can be calmed by the tame one. In the same way Jesus invites us to take His yoke on us, that we may learn meekness from Him: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

One of the ways we learn meekness is by taking His yoke upon us and by walking with Him. In so doing we learn meekness from Him. But when we go at things on our own and constantly have to fight circumstances and situations, we become more aggravated and less meek, rather than meeker. Thus the value of the whole painful exercise is lost as it becomes counter-productive in our lives.

Once Paul had learnt these lessons, he became a very different kind of man. He was no longer doing things in his own strength, but realized that God had to do them (through Paul), He also learnt to be content in every circumstance, whether good or bad and he became totally submitted to the will of God.

Jonah was also called by God but he was exactly the opposite of Paul. (Paul came from Tarsus while Jonah fled to Tarsus). Paul learnt meekness and totally surrendered to the will of God, even to death. But God had to fight Jonah for every inch of obedience. Jonah never learnt that he could not possibly win the battle against the Almighty and felt that he could by his own stubbornness and assertiveness make God conform to his own selfish will. Jonah was never content and never found peace, even though he was a legitimate prophet of God.

So the question is: Are you more like Jonah, or more like Paul? Have you learnt surrender to the will of God, or does God have to arm-wrestle you every time He wants you to do something? The sad reality is that it is not the Lord who suffers because of our stubbornness – it is us who continue to feel the pain of the goads and the frustration of fighting the very things that should be drawing us to the center of His will.

The meek man has stopped fighting and has discovered the joy and peace of surrender to God’s perfect will.