What comes to mind as you read Jesus's words, "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5)?
Truth be told, we may get a false first impression. We may think, Blessed are the weak for they shall become doormats. In our rough and rugged individualism, we think of gentleness as weakness, being soft, and virtually spineless. Not so! The Greek term is extremely colorful, helping us to grasp a correct understanding of why the Lord sees the need for His people to be gentle. The word is used several ways in extra-biblical literature:
- A wild stallion that has been tamed, brought under control, is described as being "gentle."
- Carefully chosen words that soothe strong emotions are referred to as "gentle" words.
- Ointment that takes the fever and sting out of a wound is called "gentle."
- In one of Plato's works, a child asks the physician to be tender as he treats him. The child uses this term, "gentle."
- Those who are polite, who have tact and are courteous, and who treat others with dignity and respect are called "gentle" people.
So then, gentleness includes such enviable qualities as having strength under control, being calm and peaceful when surrounded by a heated atmosphere, emitting a soothing effect on those who may be angry or otherwise beside themselves, and possessing tact and gracious courtesy that causes others to retain their self-esteem and dignity. Clearly, it includes a Christlikeness, since Jesus uses the same term to describe His own character (Matthew 11:28–29).
And what does the promise mean "for they shall inherit the earth"? It can be understood as one of two ways—now or later. Either "they ultimately win out in this life," or "they will be given vast territories in the kingdom, to judge and to rule." Instead of losing, the gentle gain. Instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, they come out ahead!
Even though from all outward appearances it seems the wicked are winning, it won't last. They prosper in their way, their schemes work, their cheating and lying and unfair treatment of others appear to pay off. They just seem to get richer and become more and more powerful. But God says it won't be forever (Psalm 37:7–11). The ultimate victory will not be won by the wicked. The "gentle" will win.
Believe that truth! Be different from the system! Trust your heavenly Father to keep His promise regarding your inheritance. It is you who will be blessed.
Taken from Improving Your Serve by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com
Used with permission. All rights reserved.