Meekness is a quality extremely counter to modern culture. In fact, it is often misconstrued as reserved, insecure, and spineless. Biblical scholars and commentators say that meekness is one of the most untranslatable words in the New Testament. I find this to be incredibly interesting. The best I understand meekness is some distinctive characteristic closely related to a combination of humility, gentleness, lowliness, and spiritually poor. According to Scripture, it is a sign of God’s grace and power in someone’s life. I think meekness is something we should all strive for because in the kingdom of heaven, the last will be first and the first will be last. (Side note: My competitive side really struggles with this concept).
As C.S. Lewis famously said,
Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.
The Word has so much to say about this idea of meekness, and so much wisdom to warn against its antithesis, pride. Below are just a few examples with my comments as I work toward more fully understanding what meekness is, how to practice it, and what it means for the Christian life. I would love to hear any additional insights you might have, so please do not shy away from the comments section below!
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The first of these examples is probably the most well known reference to meekness in the Bible, so I figure it’s a good place to start. Jesus says the meek are so favored that they will inherit all of the earth. Doesn’t this seem kind of backwards from what culture tells us? Secular culture would say something like, “Blessed are the strong, for they shall conquer the earth all by themselves.” Meekness, on the other hand, is acknowledging and behaving in accordance to our standing before God. In this world, we might be rich and influential and think we have it all together, but really, we are all beggars in the presence of a King. The meek regularly bow before the throne and reverently worship. In the end, the meek will be victorious with Christ.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
I think this verse serves as a reminder that meekness is not really our natural response. We have to “put on” meekness. It’s not automatically there. We have to intentionally clothe ourselves in it and practice throwing pride in the laundry, so to speak. Paul points out that the same holds true for compassion, kindness, humility, and patience. A few verses later, he says that above all of these virtues is love, which binds everything together. We love because he loved, we display meekness because He was meek.
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
The book of James points us to the more practical outcomes of meekness: wisdom and good works. In meekness, we recognize our own sinfulness. This happens when we see the cross and begin to truly understand the gravity of Jesus’ death and the resurrection. It’s no longer just some crazy magic trick, but rather, the miracle of sacrificial love that drove Jesus to suffer death on our behalf. Meek is knowing we deserved death because of our manifold sins against a holy and great God, not Jesus. Christ bought us at a costly price. Paul says good conduct, or good works are another sign of a meek heart. Responding to the Gospel in wisdom is sharing the good news with others, loving our neighbors, and serving the afflicted. In summary, meekness is indicative of heart-change and behavior-change.
Philippians 2:7 but emptying himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Lastly, Philippians 2:7 portrays Jesus as a servant. The Son of God displayed perfect meekness when He left his heavenly throne. He did not run back to paradise even amidst ignorance and persecution and brutal torture. Instead, He stayed and endured the crown of thorns for our sake. He did not point fingers or place blame. Instead, He said, “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do.”
Our culture may call the meek weak, but God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Read more about meekness here!