MEDITATIONS IN THE BEATITUDES – 5
Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Meek’ and ‘meekness’ are words rarely heard in the English language today and, indeed, the NIV only uses the word ‘meek’ three times, one of which is in our verse today. The only time the word ‘meekness’ is used is, “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you” (2 Cor 10:1). The NIV tends to use instead the words ‘gentleness’ and ‘humble’ though these don’t convey quite the same meaning. A dictionary definition of ‘meek’ is ‘humble and submissive’ and therein is the key to this verse. For instance, older versions of the Bible translate Num 12:3 as “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.” When the modern versions say he was very ‘humble’ they do not catch the particular characteristic of Moses that made him such a great man.
When we study Moses, one of the things that kept happening during his leadership of the new people of Israel, was that people grumbled or even rebelled. In every situation except one, Moses immediately turned to the Lord and submitted the problem to Him. This wasn’t just humility, this was submissiveness to God. Similarly when Paul above refers to the meekness of Christ, he is referring to his example of being totally submitted to his Father’s will.
Negatively, meekness is the absence of self-assertiveness and self-concern. Positively it is that acceptance of the will of God over all things. When people, as in Moses’ examples, rise up against us, the meek person simply goes to the Lord with the problem and accepts this as something the Lord has so far allowed to happen. Meekness is a characteristic of the prayer the believers prayed in Acts 4:23-30. They had just been threatened by the religious leaders and as they come to pray, they DON‘T pray against those religious leaders, they simply acclaim the Lord’s greatness (v.24-26) and then declared their acceptance of all that had happened as being God’s will (v.27-28) and simply asked God to give them boldness to declare the Gospel while God would do signs and wonders (v.29,30). Observe that in all that they simply sought the Lord’s will in all things. So how does this fit in with the previous beatitudes?
First there was the need for a recognition of our spiritual poverty, second there was the requirement that that be accompanied by a mourning or grieving for that spiritual poverty, and now third, there is the requirement of coming to a place of submitting totally to God’s will. That surely is one of the primary requirements for a person to come to Christ, that they submit to God’s way of salvation, through Christ on the Cross, and allow him to lead them from that time on. How simple those words: “allow him to lead them”. What does it mean? It means that Christ will lead us by his Holy Spirit to bring our lives in line with his Father’s will. This means a change in character, a change in attitude, a change in desires, a change in goals, a change in behaviour. It is a complete submission to God’s plan for our individual lives. As we go through life and upsets come, we turn to the Lord and ask, “What do you want here, Lord?” That is meekness.
But what about the second part of the verse? Inherit the earth? When we speak of an inheritance we mean something that is coming to us that has been left to us following the death of a family member. In this case, as a result of Jesus’ death, it means all that is now ours as a result of what Jesus has achieved on the Cross (to see this more fully, go to the series of meditations that consider the effects of Jesus’ work on the Cross). Now part of this, which many people miss, is that as a result of God’s work of salvation in us, we start to enjoy living, we start to enjoy this world, in a completely new way. We start to appreciate life, we start to appreciate this world as God’s wonderful provision for us.
“The earth” is shorthand for, everything God has provided for us on this planet. No longer are we struggling and striving to get pleasure, to achieve, to get on top of this world. Suddenly now, as we submit ourselves to God’s perfect will for our lives, we start enjoying life in a new way. There is peace, harmony, contentment, enjoyment. As we come to rest in God’s will we inherit life, new life, stress-free life, peaceful life, harmonious life, here and now. What a blessing! That all comes as we give ourselves to the Lord and to His will. That is meekness and that opens the doorway for God to bring to us the blessings of life in this world that He desires to bring. Enjoy!