June 9, 2008
Blessed are the Meek
by Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls. Mt 11: 29 (Douay-Rhiems)
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Mt 5: 5 (NIV)
I used to have a strong dislike for the word “meek.” It brings me back a decade to a defining moment during my sophomore year of high school.
I was a shy teenager who had stepped outside of her comfort zone by enrolling in several theater classes, including a class on “behind the scenes” theater productions. This should have been the easiest of all the courses for my sensitive nature. But my instructor, while delegating roles for the Spring production of Peter Pan, proved me wrong when she voiced her choice of stage manager like this:
“I’ve chosen Melissa. I chose her because I need someone with a strong personality – someone who isn’t meek, like Sarah.” She emphasized the word “meek” with her best impression of a timid, scared mouse.
Of course, I only drove her point home when I didn’t stick up for myself. I spent years after that scene developing assertiveness, determined to prove that Sarah Jennings was not meek. Like this teacher, I associated meekness with weakness and both were traits that needed to be eradicated if I was going to get anywhere in life.
At least that’s what I thought until I found that dreaded word jumping off the pages of scripture at me in the Gospel of Matthew. There it was, one of the first things Jesus says in his famous Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. (5: 4, D-R)
Last time I checked, aggressive conquerors possess land formerly owned by meek people so this verse, and the ones that precede and follow, definitely made me stop and wonder.
Our deacon offered some thoughts this weekend that helped put things in perspective. He shared that it’s in the Sermon on the Mount where we see Jesus begin to expand on His true purpose – and to the disappointment of many, He was not going to be an earthly king bestowing power and prestige on His people, not just yet. Instead, God’s plan for mankind includes an interior transformation of souls for the sake of an eternal kingdom. To properly prepare us for this kingdom, God rejected earthly methods of acquiring power and winning wars in favor of the healing that comes with merciful love.
It is God’s mercy that changes our hearts from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. It’s Christ’s humility, His lowliness, that beckons us into a relationship with Him. And ultimately, it was Christ's willingness to give up earthly glory that opened the door for us to share in His eternal glory.
Now, as much as I would like earthly power, He asks us to “learn from him.” As our souls find rest in God, He can continue His redemptive work through us as we display these same “weaker” virtues to the world.
When faced with provocation, those who embrace a meek demeanor display true wisdom and diffuse anger -- allowing truth to shine through.
When faced with hurt, it’s the humble heart seeking forgiveness that restores the broken relationship.
When faced with sin, those who show mercy in place of justice bring Christ to a world in need of the Cross.
This isn’t to say God lacks power or that Christians should
throw out virtues like courage and conviction. I think sometimes cultivating
traits like meekness and humility are trickier than learning boldness because
we can easily tip the scales too far and become passive in the face of
wrongdoing or allow others to trample on our dignity. It's a difficult balance, but a necessary one if we want to reflect Christ to a hurting world.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Is there a situation in your life right now that would benefit from a little meekness, humility, or gentleness on your part? Ask God to show you how to have a meek and humble heart like His – one that offers healing and restoration while maintaining your God-given dignity.