“Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
Do you believe your Bible? Stop for a minute and read the quote above and truly ask yourself if you really believe the “meek” will inherit the earth…the “meek.”
Many times in my life I have read the Bible but only recently I have been privileged to stop and meditate on God’s Word. Maybe it is a sign of advanced age. Maybe it is a longing for a deeper knowledge. Maybe it is a need to have the Word more strongly embedded in my life.
I don’t know.
But stop and think about Matthew 5:5 in the context of the world today.
It does not seem to fit, yet gentleness or meekness is a fruit of the Spirit.
What is this gentleness that is referred to? In the King James Version of the Bible, the word gentleness is referred to as “meekness.” Some translations substitute the word gentleness for meekness. It comes from the Greek word meaning mild or mildness in dealing with others. Pastor Graham* writes that in biblical times, gentleness meant far more than it does today. It meant “tamed, like a wild horse that has been brought under control” . He references Peter who was a man who was the opposite of gentle. When Peter saw the glory of God in Jesus and became a believer, his rough and tumble energy was used for God, not for his own desires. Graham also references Moses who was a high-spirited man who needed forty years in the desert to be brought under the control of God. After those forty years Moses became quite possibly the strongest advocate for God in the Old Testament and quite possibly the most important leader of the Israelites.
But how does gentleness manifest itself in the Christian? Like much of the fruit of the Spirit, it is not easy to pinpoint how this characteristic looks.
First of all, it is powerful and strong, not weak. Graham called gentleness “wildness under control.” Gentleness is modesty, the opposite of flamboyance and self-indulgence. The opposite of arrogance and hurtfulness. As a student of human communication, I especially like how Graham describes gentleness as “a sensitive regard for others and is careful never to be unfeeling for the rights of others” . This is the baseline for polite behavior and is the bedrock for positive feelings toward others in spite of differing perspectives. In our world, to respond to others with meekness seems to be so “unfashionable.” If someone is hostile or maybe just different, the common response is to be hateful.
A few years ago, like many of you, I saw “The Passion of the Christ.” It was so hard to watch. Everyone (including me) knew how it was going to end, but that did not prepare me for what I was going to see. Of course it was “just a movie” but for me it was more than “just a movie.” It was a contemporary pictorial of my Savior on the screen. When Jesus was arrested, Simon Peter took his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus said put up your sword and then proceeded to put the ear back on the man’s head. Down deep inside I wanted this defensive response, but Jesus only confounded His captors with His gentleness. He was tried, tortured, and crucified and He responded with gentleness. Isaiah 53:7 describes the scene so well for the Old Testament: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a Lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.”
I watched the movie and the brutality was horrifying. It was so extreme that at times I cried out stop! [I was watching at home alone]. I was confounded that the actor portraying Jesus did not say a word. I wanted him to, not that it would have done any good. When it was all over, the strength not to speak was not lost on me. The movie displayed a Christ who was more powerful than His tormenters. His gentleness was stronger than cruelty.
Graham writes that “a river under control can be used to generate power. A fire under control can heat a home. Meekness is power, strength, spirit and wildness under control” . He further writes that the Christian growth of “meekness, takes place in the heavy atmosphere of hostility. This kind of poise and inward strength as a growing work of the Holy Spirit does not come on the playground, but on a spiritual battleground.”
What is the result of this growth? How is gentleness manifested in the Christian life? When our feelings are ruffled, we do not rise up defensively. We never put ourselves first; we always put God first. We should not seek recognition or high regard or even desire to be the voice of authority. We need to devote ourselves to others and honor others instead of self.
Gentleness may be one of the most tangible signs of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In the face of hatred, we give back love. In the face of hostility, we give back gentleness. When detractors use vile language against us, we give back honest positive regard.
In this world we may never be respected as the “voice” of authority, we may never gain the praises of those in this world, we may never “swing the baton of power” but one day…
If you believe your Bible, the Word of God…
The meek will inherit the earth.
From his book The Holy Spirit