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Just dropping by ... Blessed are the meek

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Cattleman Published on 24 November 2018

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” I have long been puzzled by the word “meek.” It is one of those elusive concepts that has no adequate definition but seems to be more important than any other attribute of Jesus.

William Barclay said, “Meekness is ‘the most untranslatable of words in the New Testament.’” The dictionary doesn’t help a bit. Merriam-Webster (Merriam-Webster) defines meekness as “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.

Example: ‘a meek child dominated by his brothers.’” Merriam-Webster further describes meekness as “deficient in spirit and courage.” And finally labels it as not “violent or strong.” That certainly gives one an impression of someone who is weak and submissive to a fault. With that definition, Jesus may just as well have said, “Blessed are the weak, for they shall inherit the earth.” I don’t think that is what He meant.

None of the Bible heroes I know were weak or submissive. They faced great adversity and stood with courage in the face of almost certain death. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood before the king with unflinching courage when faced with the fiery furnace. They:

… answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
—Daniel 3:16-18 KJV

If those young men had been weak, they would have said, “We will obey the king. We’ll just pretend to bow to his idols. He will never know the difference.”

Moses stood before Pharaoh and demanded he let the children of Israel go. Moses was a wanted man in Egypt. Pharaoh could have thrown him in prison or killed him, but Moses did not run away cowering in weakness. He brought plague after plague on Egypt until he accomplished God’s purpose.

David stood before the brash taunting giant Goliath with a slingshot and a few stones. He said:

Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
—1 Samuel 17:45 KJV

That does not sound like David was “deficient in spirit and courage.”

Lest I leave out the women, Queen Esther stood with faith before her husband the king and pleaded for the Jews. If the king had not raised his scepter to give her permission to speak, she would have been executed. This example of courage and strong spirit is certainly not weak.

Yet she can, like the others, be described as meek. It looks like God’s true servants are anything but weak.

Christ stood to be judged by the earthly tribunal of Pilate and chose not to speak to him or even defend Himself against false accusations. If you have ever tried to be silent when people are wrongfully attacking you, you know it isn’t weakness that helps you hold your tongue.

It takes a power beyond your own. Christ did it with love and grandeur. He was beaten and mocked without any words of rebuff or threatening. This was certainly not weakness. As He hung on the cross in His great agony, He looked down at His crucifers and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There was no weakness in His sacrifice.

Meekness seems to be more about self-discipline and integrity than submission and weakness. It is more about courage to stand for what is right than to stand with the crowd. Meekness is the quality of character that looks at one’s self as invincible in the hands of God but nothing without God’s power.

Biblical examples of meekness are plentiful. There are examples in our history as well. George Washington was a magnificent war hero. He was loved by his men and those who were acquainted with him. He didn’t seek to make himself a prominent public figure. He said as he accepted the great honor of the presidency of the newly formed U.S.:

“While I realize the arduous nature of the task which is conferred on me and feel my inability to perform it …

“I wish there may not be reason for regretting the choice. All I can promise is only that which can be accomplished by an honest zeal.”

George Washington: The Reluctant President

Lincoln, another man of meekness, stood at the end of the Civil War with the South cowering on her knees, beaten and humiliated. He could have said, “Now, you wayward citizens, you caused this terrible war. You need to pay for it. We will take your lands and let you know what it is like to be slaves.” But he did not. He had the band play “Dixie,” which was like the Southern national anthem. Then his famous speech of charity rang from the pulpit:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Goodreads, Quotes - Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was not interested in wearing the victor’s crown or pleasing the crowd. He wanted to welcome the South back into the U.S. as equal brothers and sisters. He wanted unity, not strife. His words may not have pleased everyone, but they pleased God and did much to unite the war-torn country. Anything but meekness on Lincoln’s part would have deepened the wounds and destroyed any hope for unity.

Today, meekness is in short supply. Certainly, the media doesn’t recognize it at as an admirable quality. Modern heroes and heroines strut the stage with a chip balanced on their shoulders. It doesn’t take much to knock it off. Fists, kicks and snarling words seem to be the norm in solving problems.

Very few use the majesty of silence in the face of criticism. The louder the roar, the more recognition a person receives. Retaliation and revenge is a game of one-upsmanship. “If you offend me, I will come at you with all guns blazing.” It is no wonder the “meek will inherit the earth.” Everyone else will destroy themselves in the survival of the vilest. Who knows where it will end.

The Bible says, “The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.” (Psalms 25 KJV.) It is difficult to teach a student filled with pride and arrogance. Arrogance pre-supposes self-indulged knowledge. If you think you know it all, there is no room for new information. Meekness opens the door to learning and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 KJV) Because Jesus is meek, He is approachable.

Though He has overcome all things and has become more magnificent than we will ever comprehend, He still has room for our weakness. He will strengthen us by His power just as he did Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Moses, David and Esther.

He will give us wisdom beyond our own as He did Washington and Lincoln. He will teach us the power of silence in the face of persecution. We will be able to rest from the evils of the world, which are becoming a burdensome yoke of chaos.

I love this quote from David A. Bednar: “The Christ-like quality of meekness often is misunderstood in our contemporary world. Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash.

A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others … Meekness is the principal protection from the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth and adulation.” end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.