Summary: God has never spent one moment thinking He is me. Meekness is understanding who I am, who God is, and responding accordingly.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Jesus’ first statements were shocking to the audience that sat before Him on this Galilean hillside.. He challenged them with things totally foreign to their way of thinking. No doubt, they expected to be commended for their religiosity and spirituality, instead He told of the blessings that awaited those who possessed a broken and contrite heart. Jesus’ next statement concerning the need for meekness only added to their confusion as it brought to their minds the personal qualities of humility, submission and service.
To put this scene in context one has to understand a bit of Jewish history. In 63 B.C. Jewish independence ended when Pompi annexed Palestine for Rome. From that point until this time, Palestine had been ruled by puppet kings and governors appointed by Rome. This generation of Jewish people had known nothing but Roman domination and oppression. Yet, in their hearts burned the belief and hope that the Messiah would come and deliver them from this foreign oppressor. In fact, so deep was this belief that it had produced a number of false Messiahs over the years. But Jesus was different from any before, and again many were hopeful that this was the One who would deliver them. Their expectation was that the Messiah would come and lead Israel in a military conquest, overthrow Rome, and restore the nation to the prominent place it had occupied during the days of the kingdoms of David and Solomon.
Can’t you just picture this huge crowd, every eye on Jesus, every ear open, anxiously awaiting their marching orders. Then Jesus, this hopeful king sits down and says to them, “Blessed are the broken, the penitent, the meek.” That was not exactly the message they were expecting or hoping for.
My dictionary defines meekness as “deficient in courage.” While that was their thinking and continues to be ours today concerning meekness, that is not the Biblical definition of meekness. Even the Greek word for meek (praus, pronounced pray-us), often translated gentle or humble, does not fully capture the deeper meaning of the word. Biblically, meekness is about submission and surrender. Glenn Stassen translates this verse, “Joyful are those whose wills are surrendered to God, for they will inherit the earth.” Surrender to God means I understand who I am, who God is, and respond accordingly. It is understanding that God has never sent one moment of time thinking He is me.
Meekness is simply acknowledging exactly who God is, who I am in relationship to Him, and living my life accordingly. It is surrendering my will to the will of God. It is living small that I might live big.
Living small does not mean that one lives an insignificant or unimportant life. Jesus chose to leave heaven to live among us. In the words of Paul “He humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8). Just such a quality is demanded of and demonstrated by God’s greatest. Remember God’s great promise to Abraham (Genesis 12)? God’s promise was to bless him, his family, and generations to come. Abraham was a great man with great blessings and power, and yet when a problem arose between him and his nephew Lot (a tag-along who needed his uncle), Abraham allowed Lot to choose where he would live and Abraham took that which was left. That was meekness. Remember when Joseph’s brothers stood before him in Egypt (Genesis 42). They had so mistreated him and now he can do with them whatever he chooses. And choose he did, he blessed them by forgiving and saving them and their families. That was meekness. Remember how Saul wanted David dead and attempted to kill him numerous times? Do you remember what David did when he had the opportunity to kill Saul? He refused to seek revenge and allowed him to live. That was meekness.