Meek is a very unfortunate word because it sounds like weak and we can often associate the words together, but they are, in reality, quite different.
The Greek word translated “meek” is praos and refers to mildness, gentleness of spirit, or humility. Meekness is humility toward God and toward others. It is having the right or the power to do something but refraining for the benefit of someone else. It could be described as ‘strength under control’ just what happens when a wild horse is ‘broken in’ it loses none of its strength but has been taught to control it. Paul urged meekness when he told us “to live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1–2).
Even with the variation of interpretation it is still an alien concept to the majority of our society. Why should meekness and gentleness be an important quality? Surely we are programmed to believe it is the strongest and most forceful who will ‘inherit the earth’, the ‘survival of the fittest’. But as we have already seen in the first two beatitudes, God’s ideal is what the world would describe as “upside down”.
If we look at the life of Jesus we will see the perfect model of meekness. In Philippians 2:6-8 it describes Him like this; “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Being “in the very nature God,” Jesus had the right to do whatever He wanted, but, for our sake, He submitted to “death on a cross.” That is the ultimate in meekness.
Meekness was also demonstrated by godly leaders in the Old Testament, but only one other person in the whole bible apart from Jesus was described as meek. In Numbers 12:3 it says that Moses “was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth”.
In this beatitude Jesus was almost certainly quoting Psalm 37:11. In context this Psalm is speaking about not worrying when evil people and wrongdoers are succeeding, we need to have a bigger picture. God is in control and ultimately it will be His meek people who eventually inherit the land. “Be patient” He is saying “keep trusting in me and doing the right thing. I will make it all alright in the end.”
As I was researching this subject I came upon some excellent material from Rick Warren and the following are 8 benefits he describes from a life of gentleness;
(1) Gentleness defuses conflict
It curbs anger
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) (NIV)
When people raise their voice you lower yours
If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit! A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes. (Ecclesiastes 10:4) (NLT)
(2) Gentleness disarms critics
If you stand for something, anything, you will be criticised
When our reputations are attacked, we remain courteous (1 Corinthians 4:13) (GW)
People who love to criticise seem to just love getting into a fight. If we return with calmness we dampen their fire, when we react we add fuel to it.
Your conversation should be so sensible and logical that anyone who wants to argue will be ashamed of himself because there won’t be anything to criticize in anything you say! (Titus 2:8) (living bible)
Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. (2 Timothy 2:25) (NLT)
We need to have a tough skin and a tender heart.
(3) Gentleness is persuasive
Nagging doesn’t work.
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. (Proverbs 25:15) (NLT)
A wise mature person is known for his understanding (Proverbs 16:21) (TEV)
A good maxim to use is; I’m never persuasive when I’m abrasive.
(4) Gentleness is attractive
But you, man of God, must avoid these things. Pursue what God approves of: a godly life, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11) (GW)
“May I continue to find favour in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant (Ruth 2:13-14) (NIV)
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:4) (NIV)
(5) Gentleness communicates love
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19)
(6) Gentleness earns respect
A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth. (Proverbs 11:16) (NLT)
(7) Gentleness is a witness to unbelievers
to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:2)
but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15)
(8) Gentleness makes me like Jesus
Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29) (TLB)
Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others. Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:4-5) (GW)
These are all excellent, but you cannot achieve these sufficiently in your own strength. We are generally not gentle by nature and we may be able to put it on for a while, but it is impossible to fake gentleness for any length of time. Our inclination is to use the strength we have for our own benefit. Meekness is something God does to you, it is a fruit of the spirit, that He gives freely out of His generosity.