“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5.5).
“The person who bears and suffers evils with meekness and silence, is the sum of a Christian man.” Charles Wesley
It is no doubt the desire of every caring parent to raise their children to have a solid sense of what it means to be strong and independent; able to “stand on their own two feet”. We ask ourselves, “When the time is right will we have given them wings of their own?”
This is in fact one of the ultimate questions of parenting! Yet here is my fear – my observation. Most of us know very little about what it means to have genuine strength. If this is true, how do we pass on this vital virtue when we are still grappling to find it ourselves? I am so glad Jesus is forever teaching us to take hold of His mind – making His thoughts our thoughts. This little beatitude certainly serves as one of our tutorials.
“Blessed are the meek….” Indicative of our limited understanding of true strength is our limited understanding of the virtue of meekness. It has often been said that our culture understands “meekness as weakness”. Yet, the Bible teaches that it may be the ultimate definition of strength, power and authority. The term used here is praus, which indicates a mildness of disposition or gentleness of spirit, coming to one who has first submitted themselves to the workings of God; accepting His actions as good, and thus responding without defiance and anxiety toward Him. Instead he is one “who has a cool spirit …” (Proverbs 17:27 – NASB).
Meekness has nothing to do with allowing someone to dominate you or being too weak to express your opinion. It is a virtue which in the midst of injustice and wrong-doing refuses to be provoked and reactive. The one owning it has yielded themselves to God’s providence and entrusts Him to work in spite of the presence of evil and offense. It is meekness that enables one to be still and calm in the presence of conflict and disagreement. From this stillness one is able to respond in words and actions that are decisively clear, helpful and healing. Meekness says that it is not up to me to fix another person’s thinking and actions – that’s a God thing. When I understand that God is at work in this situation I am freed from my frenzied attempts to fix and may even discover that I am the one needing change. Meekness encapsulates many of Jesus’ other teachings when He says, “the last will be first … if you want to be king you must first become the servant of all … unless you become as a little child you will not inherit the kingdom of God….” Therefore, …
Be meek and know that I am God…
Jesus was the ultimate example of meekness. He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle (meek) and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). It was meekness He displayed when He stood before Pilate and the religious elite. It took strength to refrain from blowing up their arguments. It took power to refrain from casting an apocalyptic judgment upon them all. It took an internal authority to submit to His Father’s authority, saying “not My will but Yours be done”.
Furthermore, what is it but meekness that empowers the martyrs of every age to esteem the love and Lordship of Jesus in their lives above a love for their own bodies? What is weak about that? In reading their stories there is often seen and heard a coolness of spirit that reflects the greater realities, the surpassing inheritance they are already witnessing in their souls. It takes a person of deep inner calm, vigor and vision to set aside the temporal for the eternal. There is nothing anemic about that.
Now there is a curious inheritance the meek receive – the earth. What on earth does that mean (pun intended)? There is certainly a case to be made for this to be referencing the end-time kingdom established on the earth but I think there is a more relevant principle for the myriad of believers who will not live in that era…. If I am meek I will have the capacity to enjoy the “real pleasures” of this life, of this earth. When I think of what gives me the most angst in my life it usually has something to do with my futile efforts to control situations in order to make myself “comfortable” and safe. From relationships to finances, leisure to work, prestige to obscurity my old man is ever straining for those things that make my environment optimal. I’m trying to inherit the earth without developing a heart of meekness. As a result I miss out on the fullness this life (earth) has to offer me now – what God intended His creation to know now. I fight for what Jesus says is already mine if I would just be still.
The implications and value of applying meekness to our marital relationships are obvious. The nature of marriage – the joining of two independent forces – infers that there will be many times that we are not in control. Now our old self would exercise our demands, voice our insults or manipulate the situation so that we get our way. But the new way of meekness allows us to entrust ourselves to God and as a result we are free to be patient and kind; neither envious nor boastful, arrogant nor rude. We are not insistent, irritable or resentful. We do not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth – God’s got this. Meekness bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things because it has taken the believer’s eyes off of himself and has affixed them to the Holy One (1 Corinthians 13.4-7).
What if the next time you are tempted to react to one of your spouse’s nasty habits you first ask God to still your heart and give you ears to hear the counsel that would best relieve the situation? What if the next time you believe your wife is being too bossy you exercise your “cool spirit” and ask her what might be behind her impatience? After all, since God is in control you no longer have to feel threatened by her words or actions! What if the next time your husband is harsh in his reactions to you, you choose to recall that God is on a mission to teach and convict him to be more gentle? What if you both remembered that your identity is found in Jesus and therefore neither one of you have to feel threatened by each other’s old selves ever again?
Love demands that we are open and vulnerable to one another. But what a foolish commitment it is without meekness; without a mutual understanding that God is graciously in control of our union. He is constantly at work in our lives to mold us into the image of His Son. Therefore, He can take every scenario and shape it into something which will more fully reveal Himself in us. Of this we can be sure.
So what are the practical things we can do to nurture meekness in ourselves and in our marriage:
- Find your security in Christ alone. Your spouse can not give you what He can (Colossians 2).
- Ask the Spirit to reveal those places in you which are self-absorbed. Ask Him to show you where you are greedy with your time and comforts.
- Rehearse responding to one another in a gentle manner. If we have been in a relationship for any length of time we are already familiar with each other’s sensitive spots. So practice responding to those with a “cool spirit” (1 Peter 1:13).
- Let your mate be angry or have a false view of something you have said or done. Use this as a time to increase understanding not in defense of yourself.
- When you feel hurt give that pain over to God – surrender it.
- Ask for it – seek it.
I want to close with a special challenge to “us guys”. Our culture and our testosterone make gentleness a unique obstacle for us. No big surprise there. My call to us is to “man up” when it comes to meekness, gentleness and tenderness with our wives. We so often work toward earthly things – career, house, position, etc. but are missing the true “inheritance of the earth”. Let’s define ourselves by God’s love lived out in our marriages. Let us model for our families a “coolness of spirit” that leads the way into a fuller surrender to the hand of God in all things.
Father, we are so churned up within. We are anxious and preoccupied; scared and yet arrogant; making our plans and ignoring Yours. Let us fall deep into Your loving providence. Let us not just trust You in our theology but with our daily witness. Let that witness shout the whispering confidence You have planted within. May this quiet poise be reflected in the union of marriage. May our bedrooms be the first place we display this holy meekness. Let us not reserve it for the work place or the sanctuary and neglect it at the altar of our home. Keep us still in the midst of uncertainty; composed in the midst of misunderstanding; tranquil in the midst of offense and pain; and when it is time to speak about our lover’s transgression may we who are spiritual restore him/her in a spirit of gentleness (meekness), keeping watch on ourselves, lest we too be tempted. In all things let us bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6.1-2). In the name of the One who is eternally gentle and lowly in heart. Amen