My Bible study group is currently studying the Beatitudes, and this week’s study has been (and continues to be) so convicting. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:3-5)
We first have to recognize that we are spiritually bankrupt and completely undeserving of God’s mercy, grace, love and the very breath in our lungs. In recognition of our moral and spiritual destituteness, we break down before the Lord and mourn our sin and repent. It is only from this attitude that we can be meek, which has nothing to do with our personality or temperament. Meekness comes only from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Meekness is strength under control or in submission to our Master. A great example is found in James: “If anyone thinks himself to be religious [scrupulously observant of the rituals of his faith], and does not control his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless (futile, barren).” (James 1:26 AMP)
Another great example is found in a letter from Paul: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:3-4 AMP)
As we can see, it is impossible to be meek without first being humble. Meekness to God requires being responsive to God’s Word, recognizing there’s still much sin in my life that the Holy Spirit needs to expose to me so that I can repent. “So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21 AMP)
Next, we must submit ourselves to our Sovereign Lord’s providence, meaning He controls, directs and orchestrates all events and circumstances to accomplish His purpose. “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” (Is 46:9-10).
It takes faith to submit ourselves to His purpose to let go of our own will. But as we allow our relationship with the Lord to deepen, we can accept the difficult and painful events because “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).
In the chapter we read that the Holy Spirit brought to the author’s mind a question from God: “Which would you rather I do: remove this difficult circumstance, or use it to conform you more to the image of My Son?” When we look at our circumstances with this question from the Lord, and submit to His providence, He will give us the meekness to accept what He is doing in our lives. And because we know it’s for our good and for His purpose, we can “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18).
The Puritan Thomas Watson wrote that meekness toward other people consists of three things: (1) the bearing of injuries, (2) the forgiving of injuries, and (3) the returning of good for evil. It may be unjust criticism, unkind gossip, slander or numerous other hurts that in our natural sinful selves we will naturally respond in kind. But Jesus gave us a picture of meekness in these situations: “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Pet 2:23).
The second expression of meekness is forgiving the injuries or sins of others. We are to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32). We are to forgive as God in Christ forgives us. “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Col 3:13 NLT)
Our willingness to forgive others is proportional to our realization, in the depths of our hearts, of how much we have been forgiven by God, as well as how much more sin and corruption is still present in our hearts. It is recognizing that even though God has given us a new heart (Ez 36:26), our hearts are still deceitful (Jer 17:9), and our sinful nature still dwells within us and strives against the Spirit within us (Gal 5:17).
As I studied this, I was reminded that when I refuse to forgive others, then I am exalting myself. Ouch! Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
The third area of meekness toward others is returning good for evil. Romans 12 shows us how we are to do this, and it requires taking these circumstances to the foot of the cross and praying for these people because we can’t sincerely pray for those who we are cursing.
- “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (v 14)
- “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.” (v 17)
- “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (v 19)
Practically, we see this in Paul’s epistle: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph 4:29) I know that I must take this Scripture to heart and bridle my tongue unless I use my words to edify or build others up.
John Blanchard said, “Meekness is a defining grace, produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian, which characterizes that person’s response towards God and man. Meekness towards God is a spirit of submission to all of God’s dealings with us, especially those which cause us sorrow or pain, in the settled conviction that in all of these He is graciously, wisely and sovereignly working “for good to those who love God”. Meekness towards man means bearing patiently with the hurtful actions of others and dealing gently with their failures, not only in the assurance that all of these are under God’s providential control, but in knowledge that, left to ourselves, we have no claim to be any stronger than the weakest of our friends or any better than the worst of our enemies.”
Source: The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges