Meekness and Kingdom Living

Last week we explored the blessedness in “mourning and comforting”.  Mourning was the sincere sorrow believers experience when they realize the impact of sin in their life.  Comfort develops in knowing that Jesus Christ has delivered us not only from the penalty (death) of sin but also provided the means for ongoing cleansing through confession to our merciful Father (1 John 1:9).  The Beatitudes illustrate the behaviors and resulting “blessedness” that belongs to believers living by “kingdom rules”.  These behaviors were truly “counter culture” for not only those living in the first century but even more so for believers living in the twenty-first.

Meekness (praus) is typically used to describe one whose disposition is gentle or mild. It has also been described as “power under control”.  Jesus described Himself as “gentle and lowly” (Matt. 11:29) yet He was the Creator of the universe.  John Killinger in his classic, Letting God Bless You describes how Jesus life truly depicted “power under control”.

When folks got the idea of starting a movement that would make Him an earthly king, Jesus slipped away to be alone and to pray. While he commended the use of riches to help the poor, he himself never had much in the way of earthly goods-apparently not even a home to call his own or an extra change of raiment. When he was preparing to leave his closest friends, he took a bowl of water and a towel and got down on his knees to wash their feet, insisting that they learn to live through serving one another, not by sitting in the places of honor. Betrayed by a follower who led the police to his prayer spot in Gethsemane, he kissed the follower and bade his friends not to raise their swords. Brought before Pilate and Caiaphas, he saw the uselessness of protest and fell into creative silence. Crucified between two criminals, he spoke kindly to the one with an open heart and forgave the soldiers who had followed orders in carrying out his execution. He didn’t have to be this way. He didn’t have to submit to such mistreatment.

Jesus stated that meekness would result in inheriting the earth.  All through the Bible this was the promise to the people of Israel—a land.  What earth or land was to be inherited? Some scholars believe the land refers to the Promised Land originally promised to the patriarchs of the Old Testaments (Gen. 12:7; 24:7; 26:3; 28:13); others say it is the future Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:1-10).  But possessing the land signified much more than a possession; it signified a sense of place, security, an inheritance from God.  These promises will be realized with the second coming of the Messiah when there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). The promise is for believers who are in the New Covenant. And the promise will be fulfilled in a far more glorious way than anyone could imagine. The new creation will not be possessed by the powerful despots, the ruthless tyrants, or the manipulative schemers. It will be possessed by the meek. This is our living hope for today (1 Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:13).

How does one become meek? The answer to this comes from other passages of the Bible that describe how the spiritual life works. Meekness and gentleness and goodness are part of the fruit of the Spirit—they are produced in the Christian by the Holy Spirit. So the direction people should follow to cultivate a spirit of meekness would be to walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:24-25), or be controlled by the Spirit of God so that the qualities of Christ can be produced in and through them.

The Gospel writer’s narratives of Jesus’ life shared what meekness in action looks like. Jesus could have called down angels to take his side in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:53). But, for all of this, he was a meek man, a man after the heart of God, a man from the heart of God. Let us follow Jesus’ glorious example.