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Matthew 5:5: Meekness or Weakness?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Psalm 37:11, “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

Preaching is not just a performance, it is the communication of a message from God. Preaching is about what God is doing in the preacher, he is learning too! But the preacher must be committed to the power and authority of the word of God. If God can’t deal with the preacher through His word, if the Holy Spirit can’t convince and convict the preacher, the preacher will never be able to reach his listeners with God’s power!

The preacher must be poor in spirit, mourning over his own sin and keeping himself under God‘s control or he will not be convincing when delivering God’s message

Which brings us to this the 3rd Beatitude, “meekness.” The Greek word for “meekness” is prautes meaning, mildness, or gentleness.

Meekness is not shyness or a withdrawn personality, as contrasted with that of an extrovert. Nor can meekness be reduced to mere niceness. D Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains it this way…”There are people who seem to be born naturally nice. That is not what the Lord means when He says, `Blessed are the meek.' That is something purely biological, the kind of thing you get in animals. One dog is nicer than another, one cat is nicer than another. That is not meekness. So it does not mean to be naturally nice or easy to get on with. Nor does it mean weakness in personality or character. Still less does it mean a spirit of compromise or 'peace at any price. How often are these things mistaken. How often is the man regarded as meek who says, 'Anything rather than have a disagreement.”

Meekness is not weakness, but meekness does not use its power for its own defense or selfish purposes. Meekness is controlled strength or power completely surrendered to God’s control. It is an attitude of heart in which all energies are brought into the perfect control of the Holy Spirit.

Meekness is not cowardice or timidity. It is not the absence of anger. It is not pacifism, meekness gets angry and fights…at the right occasion, with the right people, for the right length of time, and at the right moment. (Ephesians 4:26). Look at Jesus. Paul writes of, “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” ( 2 Corinthians 10:1). Jesus, refers to Himself as “Meek and lowly” (Matthew 11:29). Yet we see Him angry, “…and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers” (Matthew 21:12). He condemned the leaders of Israel, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 2:23,27). And, “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14). He spoke condemnation on the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida” (Luke 10:13). That doesn’t sound much like the world’s definition of “meekness” does it?

Jesus was powerful, but He didn’t use His power to retaliate. At His crucifixion, He could have called 12 legions of angels (144,000) to rescue Him, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). He never spoke a word of condemnation for anything done to Him, only in reference to the way people treated God.

Moses was a fearless, bold, courageous, confrontational man of conviction, and He was a powerful world leader. He killed an Egyptian (Exodus 2:11,12). He confronted the most powerful man on earth, Pharaoh, challenging him: “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness’” (Exodus 5:1). That does not sound like a weak, meek man does it? But listen to his description in the Bible, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

“Victory over self.—Think of the example of Moses. Ruler, Legislator, Poet, and best of all, Saint! Who can help admiring him? But his greatest victory was over himself. Exodus 2:11-12 tells us what sort of person he was by nature, and Numbers 13:3 what he became by grace. Forty years in Midian and forty years in the wilderness taught him many lessons, and he learned to control his temper and curb his tongue. –James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

So we conclude that “meekness” is not to be weak, shy, indecisive, or wishy-washy. It is not killing the tiger or lion within us, it is rather the taming of the beast. “Meekness” is like a gentle breeze, as opposed to a hurricane, which is useless and damaging. It is gentle, and tender-hearted, mild, as opposed to rough, hard, coarse, or violent. “Meekness is the opposite of vengeful, vindictive, resentful, or bitter, it is a quiet willing submission to God, and others. It is without retaliation, revenge, rebellion and the self-assertiveness that characterizes the natural man. “Meekness” is a quiet, mild, non-retaliatory, non-vindictive, non-vengeful, non-violent spirit as seen in the spiritual man.

“Meekness is the opposite of violence and vengeance. The meek person, for example, accepts joyfully the seizing of his property, knowing that he has infinitely better and more permanent possessions awaiting him in heaven (Hebrews 10:34). The meek person has died to self, and he therefore does not worry about injury to himself, or about loss, insult, or abuse. The meek person does not defend himself, first of all because that is His Lord’s command and example, and second because he knows that he does not deserve defending. Being poor in spirit and having mourned over his great sinfulness, the gentle person stands humbly before God, knowing he has nothing to commend himself.” –MacArthur

The Greek word for “meekness” is prautes, meaning, mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, a quality of gentle friendliness.

“Meekness “ is the word the Greeks used to describe a domesticated, trained animal, which has learned to obey the voice of its master. Meekness is not weakness, spinelessness or even subservience, but the quality of self-control which can also accept the control of another.” –Barclay

So to paraphrase this Beatitude, “Blessed is the man one who always is angry at the right time and never at the wrong time, who has every instinct, every impulse, and every passion under control. Blessed is the one who is entirely self-controlled, or God-controlled, who has the humility to realize his or her own ignorance or weakness.” –Barclay

“Meekness” is power under control! All of the strength, power, energy and potential for destruction is still there, but under the control of a master. For example, picture a lion running through the jungle, seeking prey, watch as he pounces on his smaller quarry and tears it apart with his powerful jaws. Now picture that same lion in the circus with the lion trainer’s head in its mouth. He is now under the control of a master. The lion is of no use when it is out of control.

The greatest victory a person can have is the victory over himself!

“I count him braver who overcomes he desires than he who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” –Aristotle

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.” –Plato

Proverbs 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

Proverbs 25:28, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

Other defining words” Temperance, self-control, discipline, controlled emotions, habits, speech, activities, relationships, tempers, judgments, and controlled truth perceptions, in every aspect controlled by the indwelling Holy Spirit Romans 8:5,13,14, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”

“The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto.” –Tozer

The meek are those who endure all of the troubles of life of life without a hint of rebellion against them. They accept them as from the hand of God. They don’t get overly upset about them. They are not always seeking revenge. They accept what life brings. They do not allow themselves to be upset over things that they can do nothing about.

They concentrate on what the things matter. They are “meek and lowly in heart” like Jesus (Matthew 11:29). The word “meekness” can could used to describe an animal, that no longer kicks against the reins. And yet like Jesus the meek are strong in all the right things. They are bold in testimony. They courageously speak out against sin. But even in boldness of testimony they remember to whom they belong (1 Peter 3:15). They respond to His leading. That’s why Peter speaks of “the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” (1 Peter 3:4 NLT).

When we think of a yoke, we usually think of hard work, or pulling a heavy load. My ancestors moved across country with wagons pulled by yoked oxen. They would have stalled long before their journey’s end if the oxen had not been trained to the yoke.

There was once a little burro whose job it was to break the wildest steers. The large, convulsing, bucking steer would be haltered to the little burro, then both would be turned loose into the desert. As they disappeared over the hills, the steer would be tossing the burro around like a streamer in the wind. They might be gone for days, but sooner or later both would return, the little burro leading the much more docile, meek, and subdued steer behind him. Somewhere out in the desert the steer would tire of his feeble attempts to get rid of the little donkey, at that point the little burro would take charge and lead the steer back home.

When two oxen plow a field, a yoke connects the two. The yoke is a wooden crosspiece that fits over the neck of the oxen that causes them to work together. The younger is usually yoked to the older oxen who know the pace of walking and what is to be expected as they pull together. The younger learns from the older, experienced oxen. Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls” Matthew 11:29 KJV).

Many times I have heard a preacher say, “Let go and let God!”

“Meekness” tested:

•Are we constantly victimized by losing our temper, flying off the handle?

•Are we only angry when God is dishonored?

•Are we angry at sin?

•Do we get righteously indignant when someone perverts the word of God, false teachers, false Christians, and those who take God’s name in vain?

•Do we receive the word without anger and by responding to what God says?

•Do we always attempt to make peace and to avoid conflict?

•Do we criticize and condemn those who are not living for God, or do we try to restore them, “in a spirit of meekness?” (Galatians 6:1).

•Do we receive criticism without any thought of retaliation, whether the criticism is right or wrong?

•Do I have an attitude of love and compassion for those knocking on our door, trying to persuade us that their religion is the right one?

•Do I start fights or try to end them? Meek people do not start arguments, they end them!

•Are we completely done with ourselves, our successes, causes, fame, and reputation?

“The meek…shall inherit the earth.”

“The quiet-spirited, the gentle, the self-sacrificing,-It looks as if they would be pushed out of the world but they shall not be, “for they shall inherit the earth.” The wolves devour the sheep, yet there are more sheep in the world than there are wolves, and the sheep, continue to multiply, and to feed in green pastures.” –Spurgeon

“Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth.” (Psalm 25:12,13).

“But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).

“For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:22).

“The meek already inherit the earth in this life, in this way. A man who is truly meek is a man who is always satisfied (cf meaning of makarios, blessed, as fully satisfied independent of one's circumstances), he is a man who is already content. Goldsmith expresses it well when he says: 'Having nothing yet hath all.' –D Martyn Lloyd-Jones

When I came to Christ it was not, “Hey Lord, it’s me, John, the one You’ve heard so much about!” It was never “How great I am,” but “How great thou art.” The people who come into His kingdom are those who are “poor in spirit,” the “meek” ones who are willing to become as “little children,” (Matthew19:14). It is not the proud, but the “meek” who shall “inherit the earth!”

“When you become a believer and you are meek, you enter the kingdom, you come into that original inheritance. It’s paradise regained. And, beloved, ultimately will we not gain the earth? Ultimately will we not reign on the whole earth with Lord Jesus Christ in the great coming kingdom? Yes! …And what he’s saying here is this. The people in the kingdom shall inherit the earth and the only ones who enter my kingdom are the meek, not the proud. The ones that are broken over their sin, not the ones who think they have no sin. The ones who are mourning over the fact that they’re lost, not the ones who are laughing about the fact that they’re supposedly all right… And you say, “How are the meek ever going to get the earth? How are they going to pull it off?” Well, see the point is, the meek just go into Christ’s kingdom and he does it… Proud people aren’t going to do it. You see what - remember what Jesus said? “Except a man become as a little - ” what? “ - child, you can’t enter the kingdom.” Unless you humble yourself and become as a little child, you can’t enter the kingdom. Proud people don’t come to the kingdom.” –John MacArthur

There’s coming a day when the Christian will partake with Israel in the kingdom, and that is future. But there’s a present tense right here. All things are ours right now. You know, it’s kind of like the kingdom is already ours, it’s just in escrow. We haven’t really possessed it yet, but it’s ours.


Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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