“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5, King James Version).
Most readers of Darkened Glass Reflections may notice that I usually quote from the New American Standard Bible or, at times, the English Standard Version. I chose the King James Version for this article because Matthew 5:5 is a very familiar passage. Many people who do not regularly read the Bible have memorized it in the King James Version. The NASB’s wording might catch them off guard: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”
It is a minor difference, mainly because there are some ancient Greek words for which there is no exact English translation. The Greek word praeis is one such word. The KJV always translates it as “meek.” The NASB prefers the word “gentle.” The New Living Translation says “humble.” Other translations usually follow one of these choices, and all three translations provide part of the correct definition. The blessed person Jesus speaks of here is meek, gentle, humble, and mild.
The world tells us to pursue power and importance and to show pride. These values clash with the gentle, meek humble spirit Jesus seeks from His disciples. Sometimes, we are willing to hurt others or take advantage of them to have our way. Instead, Jesus calls us to be gentle.
We may need to be assertive, but we should not be aggressive. Aggressive people seek their own gain without consideration for the feelings or needs of others. Sometimes, we must aggressively stand for justice, truth, and righteousness. We should not allow others to take advantage of us, but on the other hand, we should not be forceful or domineering. The meek and gentle disciple does not seek his or her needs at another person’s expense.
We can take our example from Jesus, the epitome of meekness. According to Strong’s concordance, praeis is used four times in the New Testament. The first time is here, where Jesus urges His disciples to be meek. The second time is an invitation by Jesus, who tells us He is meek or gentle:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NASB).
The third use of the term is in Matthew 21:5 when Jesus is entering Jerusalem on a donkey during His triumphal entry. Citing the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, Matthew wrote:
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’” (Matthew 21:5, NASB).
We can come to Jesus because He offers rest. He will not wear us down but will lift us up. He is gentle, humble, and meek as the Lamb of God, but He is also powerful as the Lion of Judah and sovereign as the King of Kings.
He is our example of meekness. He brought mercy, forgiveness, and compassion to all who desired it, but He did not compromise His convictions when challenged. Meekness is not fearfulness, cowardice, or compromise. Jesus’ meekness was always compassion and grace undergirded by inner strength.
As with all of the Beatitudes, Jesus promises a reward to the blessed ones who live by these standards. The meek will inherit the earth. Here, He is quoting Psalm 37:11:
“But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Psalms 37:11, NASB).
We will discuss what it means to “inherit the land” or earth in a forthcoming article.
Heavenly Father, show us how to be meek like Your Son Jesus, so we can live in Your blessing and inherit the earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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