Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
For most of my life, that has always been my first reaction when hearing or reading this saying from Jesus, and, truth be known, it still sometimes is!
Where ever I look, it is obvious that the strong have inherited the earth. Whatever I see, whatever I read, where ever I go, the evidence is overwhelming and the message is clear: The strong are blessed, and the meek are sent back home.
To make sure I am not misunderstanding, I googled the word “meek.” It means humble, quiet, gentle.
Which means that meekness is the very opposite of my nature, which is selfish and prideful. I want to be meek, though. Not fake meek, but truly meek. Not proud to be humble, but humble humble.
Sadly, the deck is completely stacked against us. The world would have us think that strength reigns supreme. Even in environments traditionally seen as paragons of virtue, humility is disappearing. Whether that is in academia, or politics, or sports, or even church, folks are competing with each other for the supremacy of opposing idea, with haughtiness and superiority clothed in pious language.
And of course, then there is me, who thinks of himself as better and more capable than his neighbor most of the time, not necessarily overtly, but often covertly.
So, what on earth was Jesus talking about?
I think he made his statement personal rather than corporate, despite using the plural. This is not about everybody else, this is about me. As a sinful man, whose primary challenge is pride – not surprising, given that this was also Satan’s downfall – he is telling me that I have to humble myself, if I want to be part of his new earth. That I need to surrender my pride completely every day and die to pride and selfishness. That I need to replicate Jesus’ example rather than the world’s, and not by my own strength, but by his.
The older I get, the more I realize how challenging his words are. On the one hand I’m aware of my tendency to only surrender the things I’m really bad at, while retaining control over what I excel in—which smells suspiciously of retained pride. On the other hand, I really have the desire to be more meek, humble, submissive, gentle and quiet. And when all is well, and I’m at peace, and life is just dandy, I sometimes manage quite ok.
But when I’m under pressure or attack or feel stressed, unjustly treated or unfairly accused, when I sit in traffic, or in an airport security check line, or behind some slowcoach at the supermarket checkout, I revert quickly back to type. If thoughts could kill, I’d be guilty of murder often, only then to feel sorry about it later, when I reflect on my behavior.
And here is another thing: I actually really like genuinely humble people and quite dislike the braggarts, self-promotors, brutes and bullies. So why do I often become I what I dislike in others?
Thank God—yes, thank you, God, for working with me and in me, patiently, steadfastly, faithfully, lovingly and forgivingly—so I can slowly grow into the humble person you want me to be and live more fully in your forever kingdom.