I admit that when I first read Matthew 5:5, ‘the meek shall inherit the earth.’ it left me a bit confused. My confusion stemmed from the use of the word ‘meek’; it seemed inconceivable that the meek would be able to exert enough strength, much less fortitude, to inherit either the whole or part of the earth from forces that are hell-bent on acquiring them. It reminded me of the 1987 movie Princess Bride. In the film, the character Inigo Montoya made famous the line, “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means,” in response to another actor’s (Vizzini’s) constant and inappropriate use of the word ‘inconceivable.’
For something to be inconceivable, it would have to be so unlikely to happen that it would be considered an impossibility. Jesus told us that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth,’ not because of wishful thinking on His part, but because it will happen. Rather than looking at the verse as being inconceivable, we need to start figuring out what kind of person we would need to be for this to happen. Our ability to fully understand and grasp how this will happen is paramount to fulfilling our Christian mandate to subdue and inherit the whole earth.
Jesus saw the meek as possessing a strength of mind and spirit that enables them to show discretion and valor when encountering or standing firm in the face of danger. When we talk about the inner strength of the meek, the phrase, “discretion is the better part of valor,” comes to mind. Valor is when a person shows great courage in the face of danger, and discretion means that it is better to be careful than to do something dangerous, unnecessary, or just plain stupid. People who train special forces teach them to be dangerous, but simultaneously they teach them to exercise self-control, “discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:11
Truth has always been a two-edged sword that both cuts and heals. I have found that very few people will confront another person even if the circumstance is dire. Most of us would rather say nothing than get involved in something that would rob us of our peace. A lot of people do not want to get involved in a conflict. Their goal is to have a peaceful co-existence, a truce. That is what we want but typically what doesn’t cost us anything ends up being nothing more than a disappointing truce. Settling on peace for ‘peace’s sake’ compromises God’s word and takes the other person further from the heart of God. That is why peace that costs us nothing will often cost the other person everything. It is not that Christians love conflict, but that we love truth more. Only a dangerous man will sacrifice their personal comfort and stand for truth and righteousness. The meek stands firm in the face of adversity, holding the sword of truth high.
In the Bible, the word meek is the same word used to describe war-horses. The Greek word is praus, which loosely translated means ‘power under control.’ This word is used to describe a horse that has been trained to obey instantaneously and unconditionally, no matter how severe the conflict that is before them.
We need to be open to the realization that within the heart of every man are two men. One who is ruled by his sin-nature, whom you cannot resist on his level and with his weapons. And the other, who is not evil and can be reached by love. If we can get to that man, we will win the battle over his soul.
At any moment, you may find yourself accosted either physically or spiritually. If you allow your sinful nature to rise up, you will find yourself fighting with the weapons of your assailant’s choosing. But if you keep your hands low and your heart held high and choose not to lower yourself to his level, you may find a way to reach the man of love and reason that is within the other. The law of love will force a person to go further than they are prepared to go, thus revealing their true character. Their desire is to break your jaw, and in Godly meekness, you try to break his heart. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Jesus illustrated the force that showed the strength of Godly meekness by using a real-life situation that many Jews were well aware of. The Romans had passed a law that made it permissible for a Roman citizen to force a Jew to carry his load for one mile. Every Jewish person that was listening as Jesus spoke, knew of this law, a law that forced them into slavery and treated them as if they were a beast of burden.
Taking Back, The Moral High Ground
Let me paraphrase what Jesus was saying. You know that if someone forces you to go one mile, you are his slave. The law requires that you obey, which is at the heart of the Old Testament commandments. You are required to obey, and many of you begrudgingly follow those laws, much like you do when you are required by law to carry a Roman citizen’s burden. But if you of your own free will should choose to carry the burden an extra mile, does it not dramatically change the situation? The first mile made you a slave, but the second mile gives back your dignity but more importantly, it gives back your moral control over the situation.
You could fight back with his weapons of hate and anger, or you could draw on the forces of love, and once the first mile has been walked, you ask to carry his load another mile. As he realizes what you are offering to do, you have taken him from a position of strength to one of uncertainty. You began by walking behind him as a slave to the law; however, once you decide to carry the burden another mile, you make yourself free of the intent the law imposes. Now you have taken command of the moral high ground, and in doing so, others begin to look at you differently and wonder what manner of man is this that walks with such authority. His desire was to break your back and spirit, but you have broken through to his heart with love.
You demonstrate courage and strength by how you react to real-life situations; you do not strike out because you can, but because you are aware of when and how it is beneficial. You can’t be strong and have self-control if you have gone through life foolishly thinking that you have nothing that needs to be controlled. If you are incapable of being assertive, not being assertive isn’t a virtue. Otherwise, you confuse weakness with moral strength. If we look at being meek the same as being harmless, which is why we feel we are good, we have confused what Jesus is saying in the Beatitudes. Being harmless doesn’t make you strong if all you are is weak. If you are weak, you can’t be dangerous because it is challenging to be assertive. To be a danger, one must master the skills it takes to acquire the strength to become an overcomer. Through the trials of adversity, we learn perseverance, attaining the ability to become dangerous. Think for a moment, ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ takes strength, not weakness, and to think that one must be meek or harmless to inherit the earth doesn’t understand the personhood of Jesus and his disciples. If we have learned one thing from the scriptures, it is that Jesus was not weak. They didn’t take his life; he gave his life.
Much love in Him,
Rex & Lois
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