— for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
I believe I have located one of the weak points in my faith. I love the promise in this verse, who wouldn’t? But I don’t really want to be a poor, timorous, vacillating wimp.
However, the promise is for the meek. Thus I am faced with a quandary: my faith tells me I must be meek, my flesh says no way. This is starting to look like pretty familiar territory, the age old battle between the spirit and the flesh.
But what if I’m fighting an imaginary foe on the wrong field? Maybe I don’t really understand the meaning of meek.
The French word for meek is débonnaire, which le Petit Robert defines as kindness pushed to the extreme, somewhat weak. Synonyms offered are gentle, peaceful, patient, inoffensive. I’m not sure if that is much help.
It took a study of the original Greek word and its usage in the New Testament for the light to dawn. One who is meek does not trust in himself, but in God who has all power. Meekness is the absence of self-assertion, self-seeking and self-confidence. In their place there is faith and trust in Almighty God, a love for His kingdom and for all mankind.
Meekness is not a description of a person’s outward behaviour towards others, but of the grace of the Holy Spirit in his heart which enables him to accept God’s will without dispute, Thus it is not a manifestation of weakness, but a result of confidence in the power of God.
Christians are called to be bold, fearless and meek, and there is no conflict between these attributes since all are founded in a trust in the boundless power of God, Perhaps the English word debonair (having pleasant manners, carefree, cheerful) is not as far removed from its French parent as I once thought. Some other parts of the English definition would not fit so well, but to have pleasant manners, be free of cares and cheerful are definitely attractive characteristics, as long as they are built upon trust in God rather than self.
OK, I think I get it. In order to inherit the earth I need to abandon my timid nature (yeah, I know, I don’t want to be timid, but there it is), abandon my desire to protect myself, and go forth boldly in the service of God.
Here I am again: my flesh is not willing. But at least I am now facing the real enemy on the right battleground.
The early Christians were no different people than we, in a world even worse than ours. They witnessed boldly and fearlessly, with meekness, knowing that they would face opposition, persecution and martyrdom. They turned the world upside down. Our world today needs to be turned upside down. Trying to do it by political means always fails. It is people who need to be changed, not governments. Do we have the faith and courage it will take to be truly meek?