In the third Beatitude, Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Meekness is not about weakness, but about power under control. How is a Christian to be meek?
The first Beatitude—being “poor in spirit”—is about recognizing our insignificance compared to God on a very personal level. The second Beatitude is about mourning for sin and its many devastating effects.
Together, these two Beatitudes set the stage for the third: meekness.
Blessed are the meek
What do a tamed horse and a Christian have in common?
Each could be described by the Greek word praus, which is often translated “meekness” or “gentleness.” This concept of meekness conveys strength under control. William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible points out that praus “is the regular word for an animal which has been domesticated, which has been trained to obey the word of command, which has learned to answer to the reins.” A wild, uncontrolled horse can cause great damage, but if it is tamed, that power can be harnessed and used productively.
Meekness is a trait that is necessary in a Christian’s life. It is not just power under control, but power under God’s control. For a Christian, meekness is about surrendering everything to God and being completely at His disposal.
God will not work with those who are proud and haughty (Zephaniah 3:11-12). Meekness is developed by being teachable and following God’s way (Psalm 32:8-9). Gentleness (translated “meekness” in the King James Version) is identified as an important component of the fruit of His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Meekness becomes evident in our approach to the will of God and our interactions with other people. We show gentleness as we seek what is best for others.
For they shall inherit the earth
The meek are promised a grand inheritance: the earth (Matthew 5:5). God promises the earth to those who fear the Lord (Psalm 25:12-13), to those who wait on the Lord (Psalm 37:9) and to the meek (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5). These aren’t conflicting promises; they support each other, since the meek are people who fear and wait on the Lord.
Some may be surprised that Jesus promised the earth to the meek, not heaven. But what the Bible says about the Kingdom of God coming to earth and the amazing refreshing and restoration God has planned makes an exciting study.Some may be surprised that Jesus promised the earth to the meek, not heaven. But what the Bible says about the Kingdom of God coming to earth and the amazing refreshing and restoration God has planned makes an exciting study. See our articles “The Prophesied Restoration of All Things” and “Is Heaven Real? What Is Heaven?”
Coming from anyone else, Jesus’ promise to the meek would be vain and impossible. But coming from Jesus Christ, this promise is more solid than if it were written in stone. God doesn’t lie or change His mind (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Those who follow Him will have the earth as their reward. As they grow and become children of God, the meek will be heirs to all that is His (Romans 8:17). This includes the earth!
The Bible describes a beautiful, peaceful and prosperous planet earth that will be an awesome inheritance.
The way of man
Meekness is not a trait that most people are naturally inclined to pursue. Conventional wisdom would say that the earth and everything in it will go to those with the boldness to act and the strength to take it. To many, meekness is simply weakness and means allowing others to walk all over you.
This concept seems to show up in the depictions of Jesus Christ in art. Jesus Christ plainly said that He was gentle (Matthew 11:28-30; translated “meek” in the KJV). In His meekness, He was abused to the point of being beaten beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14; 53:5-7). But artists seem to have taken His meekness to mean He was weak and fragile, creating images of a feeble, helpless man. What most don’t realize is that the popular conception of Christ’s appearance is not even remotely accurate.
What is often forgotten about Jesus Christ is that in His meekness He still acted with great power, but it was always under control. When it was time to act, Jesus acted without hesitation or uncertainty (John 2:14-17).
Jesus set one clear restraint on the use of His power: the will of His Father (John 5:30). Jesus had the power to stop everyone who opposed Him, as He said on the night that He was arrested, but He chose not to use that power (Matthew 26:50-54; Philippians 2:5-11).
Even faced with an excruciating death on the cross, Jesus Christ submitted Himself to the will of the Father (Matthew 26:36-44).
How meekness looks
Meekness affects how we interact with both God and our fellow man. The meek will quietly receive God’s Word and apply it in their lives—regardless of the cost (James 1:21-25).
Meekness involves obedience to God and a willingness to sacrifice to please Him. Sometimes this sacrifice will include acts of service to Him and to others (Matthew 20:25-28).
The meek will also have gentleness in all of their interactions with others. This doesn’t mean that the meek allow everyone to push them around—when it’s time to stand, they will stand firm. Yet there are ways of being firm and still remaining gentle.
The meek are slow to wrath; they control their impulsiveness (Proverbs 14:29). The meek master the art of using a soft answer to diffuse a situation (Proverbs 15:1). Meekness lovingly bears with others even when it’s tough (Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:12-13). In order to do this, a Christian cannot be easily offended.
The attitude of meekness affects how we do everything. It will eventually change our priorities—making us seek after the righteousness that Christ mentioned in the next Beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).
Read more about meekness in our article “Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness.”
You can find an overview of all the Beatitudes and links to them in our article “Beatitudes: Keys to Real Happiness.”