Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 ESV]
Rarely do people recognize perspective which is not their own. We see ourselves as we want, as we have been trained or as we have trained ourselves. From our vantage we see how circumstance affects us or impacts our lives. Expectations, either great or small, are built and developed and hardened in the thinking of our hearts which demand others meet and adhere to them. Anger flares when expectations are not met or fulfilled and we either fight harder, flee farther or do nothing quaking at the “unreasonableness” of those who dare challenge our perspective. Are not expectations a fixing of our eyes upon some dream made possible by our own strengths or reduced to nothing by the weaknesses of others? Do we not see ourselves as strong and others as weak? Or, perhaps, we see ourselves as weak and others as stronger.
False humility magnifies weakness as a point of pride. Have you not heard those who denigrate themselves before others, usually as an excuse to not think or feel and therefore to not be responsible for the results of their actions. They have strength but have either been trained by themselves or others to view acting in their strength as arrogance. Their expectations of others is high and of themselves is low or nonexistent.
Arrogance, on the other hand, magnifies strength as a point of pride. Have you not heard those who know all, can do all, and will through their demeanor, place themselves higher than they ought or deserve. They have been trained by themselves to not recognize weakness in themselves and only in others. Their expectations of others is low and themselves is high, even unreasonably high.
“Meek” is translated “humble” or “gentle.” One phrase used to describe “meekness” is “strength under control.” This phrase leaves the impression the individual is in control while responsible for their strength. Perhaps, from the world’s perspective, that is from the perspective of each individual in the world with their various expectations, they are free to do or not, depending upon their training and discipline. But there are a couple of things over which no one has control, in themselves or in others. All sin, missing the mark as determined by the God of creation and upon whom the image of God is based. All die, a consequence of sin and judgment of God against the rebellion of the person. What is the implication of these truths? We may view ourselves as strong but our strength is never enough to make us right before God. Arrogance before God will only bring His wrath. False humility before God will only bring His judgment.
In the Sermon on the Mount the word “meekness” demands, not a loss of control but a relinquishing of control. Meekness is God’s strength in His person under His control. Here, “meek” implies disciplined action under the direction of a greater authority, resulting in honor to that greater authority and not to the instrument of the action. While the instrument is a living being, a person, that person’s disposition is taken into consideration by God when being used by Him. A meek disposition is one which will not resist the leading of God in taking a specific or generally necessary action and will not try to accomplish God’s will in their own strength.
What are the characteristics of a meek person? First, a meek person is one who has moved through the first two spiritual characteristics and agrees with God’s assessment and direction. They cease rebelling against God because they have recognized the full effect of sin and realized the complete consequences of sin.
A meek person is seen by the world as someone who has difficulty making any decision then waffling when the decision demands steadfast resolve. From the world’s perspective this idea of meekness is wholly true. Yet, those who live in God’s strength are meek before Him, rely upon His strength and are firm in their decisions and unbending in their stance when it comes to applying that decision. It is the disposition of working with people in a gentle, humble yet uncompromising manner while remaining resolute which defines meekness.
One of the standard examples for meekness is the image of a Clydesdale Horse, one of the biggest and strongest horses created. My image of these horses are with bushy hoofs and flying manes hauling huge wagons through snow. With their heads tossing and their nostrils flaring, great puffs of mist blowing out in the winter, they look horribly fierce and intimidating. But they are as gentle as they are intelligent. A small child leads them by the reigns unafraid. Their giant strength is under the control of a gentle disposition. Should their fury rise the surrounding destruction would be great.
Inner strength does not need to fortify an outward appearance. Those with true inner strength have no need to show off to anyone. Such inner strength is complete and sure of self, under control, not out of control. Such control comes through time and experience and discipline. God teaches those with such dispositions, training them for a specific place in His kingdom. His training begins where all His training begins, with the admission of sin bringing the person to the absolute certainty they are not only incapable of accomplishing anything righteous, but are completely sinful. They must first experience poverty of spirit, the absolute recognition of sin in themselves and those around. This recognition must stop them in their tracks, keeping them from moving toward that which is abhorrent, even though pulled by the desires of rebellion.
Stopping is not enough. They must turn from sin. It is the turning from sin, known as repentance, which dissolves their personal strength. For with the realization of sin comes recognition of the consequences of sin, the separation from God the source of Life, and the absolute inability to do anything righteous. It is the turning away from sin, called by God through the sacrifice of His Son, which breaks the bonds of sin upon the person. Here, the person becomes a bond-servant of God and ceases being a slave to sin. Their strength is gone but their will is not broken. Repentance makes a willing servant of one who knew only how to serve themselves and sin.
When one turns away from sin one must turn toward that which is not sin otherwise they spin in a complete circle and begin, once again, moving toward that which had enslaved them. Turning away from sin means they must turn toward God. If turning away from sin is repentance then turning toward God is faith. If recognizing sin takes intelligence, believing the evidence of sin, and turning away from sin demands repentance, the emotional recognition that God’s moral law has been violated and they receive His just sentence, then faith may be characterized as an activity of the will where one relinquishes control of themselves to the object of their faith. Faith involves believing the evidence of the Object, emotionally trusting the Object and willfully following the Object. Faith demands the whole person focus upon the Object of faith.
God is the object of true faith. For any to make themselves or another the object of faith is to have the perspective God does not own that place in creation rightfully His.