Ever since our church small group discussed meekness last week, I’ve been thinking about it—trying to make sense of it. It seems simple enough until you really pause and consider Jesus’ words.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Meekness isn’t something we talk much about. It’s often seen as being weak, timid, or passive—hardly qualities we want to possess.
But take a second look, and you quickly discover meekness is much more. The biblical view of meekness is strength under control.
It’s the middle ground; the place where we struggle to live. Most of us choose to either keep the peace at all costs. Or we boldly defend our cause, regardless of the hurt it may cause.
Meekness calls us to do more. It calls us to quietly trust God when others hurl insults at us. It calls us to speak out without sinning. It requires wisdom, patience, and prudence.
Consider the life of Jesus. As he stood trial for crimes he didn’t commit, he uttered barely a word. He refused to defend himself before a corrupt Roman ruler. He accepted the mocking, beating, and crushing crown of thorns brought about by false accusations from the religious elite. He silently carried his cross, bearing its weight as the cost for our sin.
We often think of Jesus in this setting as the model of meekness. He trusted God’s plan and submitted himself to it. He refused to defend himself. He asked God to forgive his accusers.
But if we consider Jesus as the model for meekness, we must consider the whole of his life. He wasn’t just meek in certain situations and bold in others—as if the two are mutually exclusive. Instead his life shows us what it means to practice meekness in every situation.
Think about how many times Jesus stood up to the religious leaders. He had no problem pointing out hypocrisy or faulty thinking. Consider how often Jesus stood up for the sick, weak, or sinner. Reflect on his behavior in the temple when he cleansed it from the money changers.
At first glance it seems he set meekness aside. He was bold. He stood for justice. He got angry. How can these qualities exist together?
Most of the time we choose one or the other. We are bold but not gentle. We are strong but not kind. We are angry but not sinless.
Jesus spoke the truth to his enemies. But he always did it with a heart to draw them—or those listening—to the truth.
Jesus stood for justice. He realized the weight of sin within each of us, the weakness that besets all of us, the sickness that harms our souls. So as he stood up he often stooped down, lifting up the hurting and exposing the self-righteous. In so doing he taught both groups about their need for a Savior.
He practiced righteous anger. Even in his most passionate moments, he still exhibited perfect control. He never lashed out to protect himself. He never called down judgment to silence the opposition. He never pursed vengeance. Instead his sternness was always meant to correct, purify, and instruct.
The more I study meekness, the more I see the undercurrent beneath it. Meekness requires great faith.
It takes faith to keep our mouth shut. When we face slander, accusations, or attacks, the only way we can sit in silence is to entrust ourselves to the one who takes up our cause. He fights for us. He brings justice. He clears our good name—in his time and way.
It also takes great faith to stand up and speak out. God calls us to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. He calls us to confront sinful behavior. He summons us to live pure lives. But doing so is not without danger. And so we must walk into these situations with confidence in the one who stands with us and speaks for us.
We need wisdom to know what is called for in each situation. Far too often we swing from one extreme to the other. We live in a culture that celebrates strength as unbridled boldness or power. We operate in a society than frowns upon control of any kind.
As followers of Jesus who seek to model his upside down kingdom, we must find the middle ground. We must grasp what true strength looks like. We must welcome the control that comes by the Spirit. And we must follow his lead as we determine when to speak or stay silent.
In many ways meekness is an upside down characteristic fitting of God’s upside down kingdom. And those who find the way to meekness, find the way to a rich inheritance. The bold and brash don’t inherit the earth—only those who learn how to reign in their strength do.
They are the leaders in God’s kingdom. They are the ones who possess power but don’t worship it. They are the ones who have the faith to let God lead them.
Meekness is needed more than ever. We need it in our workplaces and homes, with our coworkers and children, in our friendships and marriages.
Take a look around you today. Where is God calling you to demonstrate meekness?