I am blessed to have been brought up in a Christian home. My mom and dad really loved each other, lived right and raised my brothers and I to love God and each other. My parents demanded respect, but without being demanding…if that makes sense. They taught us how to tithe, read our Bible, attend church diligently and how to respect our fellow man. They didn’t force us to follow God, they just lived it in front of us. So much so, that even in the tough teenage years I knew enough to ‘stick with the stuff’. For me, it caused me to fall in love with the Lord, His church, and the ministry. Needless to say, I ended up being a church-kid all my life. My biggest rebellion was me getting really mad at my mom because I didn’t want to go to Sunday night service one weekend…and that’s about the extent of my ‘falling away’. Call me weird, but I really enjoyed being in church.
One might think that with an upbringing and desire in my heart like this it meant my life was charted to be a bed of roses and dreamy blue skies. I could only wish! In fact, somewhere in all those church years I secretly had the notion that if I did right, lived right and treated people right, that like an old Oak Ridge Boys song goes, “He’s (God) gonna smile on me!” Well maybe God did smile on me, but as for life, smiling wasn’t exactly what I earned. I soon found out that doing what is right can make some people really mad. Living right can be seen by some as offensive, and treating people right will at some point be misunderstood as weakness - and you’ll end up being disrespected, walked on, chewed up and spit out. (Send $14.99 today for my entire country album on this last point!) Yes, I still believe in doing right, but I’ve gotten a whole lot wiser in my 40’s.
This past Sunday I taught on the 3rd statement Jesus made in His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ message.
In Matthew 5:5 He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
I know for me, there was always the underlying tone in this statement that meekness meant weakness…and I know I’m not alone in thinking this way. With meekness, we often join another adjective called mild. Add to that descriptive words like humility, gentle and teachable. You start getting an idea of what a believer’s disposition might be in life – a timid person who knows to shut up until spoken to, backs up, lets up and willingly gives up when confronted. Yet when you read the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus was known as meek, but I doubt the ‘money changers’ in the temple saw Him as mild and weak when they felt that whip crack on their backside!
Oh yeah, and what about Moses? He was called by God as the meekest man on the earth – yet wasn’t he the same guy who killed an Egyptian with his bare hands; in anger broke the tablets of stone; in a fit of rage struck a rock to force a miracle? I don’t see Moses backing up, letting up or giving up. Somehow God’s definition of meekness doesn’t fit weakness. In fact, just like the word ‘grace’, the word ‘meekness’ is amongst the toughest words in the Bible to accurately interpret in English.
Meekness is a Greek word called, ‘prautes’ that implies gentle strength. It’s the ability to apply the right amount of strength, in the right measure at the right time. It’s like knowing when to speak up without overdoing it. It’s the ability to hold your tongue and the ability to speak up for yourself.
The philosopher Aristotle put it this way:
“…prautes is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, and for the right reason. [I]t is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character.”
I also like the way the Message Translation puts it:
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
Meekness is knowing who you are and who God is within you. It goes right along with being poor in spirit and being of those who mourn as stated in verses 3 and 4 of Matthew 5. When there’s no fanfare, or no image to uphold or portray, you can accept the limitations of your humanness. Which in turn becomes a bulwark against self-righteousness.
You see yourself for who you are and what you can’t do. It’s at that moment something incredible begins taking over. You begin to see yourself in Christ. You quit performing for others. You stop doing things because you have to or because you’re expected to. You start doing things because you want to. It’s freedom. You inherit a quality of life that others spend a lifetime working for. Your words and actions become balanced, ‘born in strength of character’. You respond to your opposition with the greatest of ease, firm yet gentle. Best of all, you end up loving the new you…and in turn, you learn how to love others. You inherit more than you could have ever earned. A great way to live if you don’t mind being called meek.