Rev. Miersma is pastor of Immanuel Protestant Reformed Church of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

The words of Christ here in the text are very familiar to us. We know them well. However, they just do not seem to be correct. The earth appears to be possessed by the bold and proud. In recent years the world has progressed very rapidly in all areas of learning. It would appear that the only way anything gets accomplished is for man to take things into his own hands. Certainly no room for meekness. No, one needs boldness and vision. One can even take courses that teach one how to take charge and control. The only way that one can get ahead is to take anything one can get and be ready to do so at the expense of others. Meekness is treated with scorn and derision.

Nevertheless, the words of the text are true. Meekness is one of the necessary characteristics of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. In Psalm 37 David reflects on this truth. He recognized that the wicked sought to accomplish many things. In doing so they plotted against the just, drew their swords and bent their bows to cast down the poor and needy. He saw, however, that they were soon cut down like the grass and that their place was no longer remembered. On the other hand, the little that the righteous hath is better than the riches of many wicked, for God blesses and preserves His people. He provides for them in their needs here on the earth, and afterwards brings them to glory. Yes, contrary to appearances, the meek shall inherit the earth.

There are two kinds of meek. First, there is the worldly and wicked meek. These are the ones that do not have much power and are not able to stand up for their rights. Consequently, they are walked upon by men and they allow this to take place. As a result, they are the butt of many jokes. Christ does not mean these, and there is no blessedness in this meekness.

Secondly, there is the godly meek. This is a spiritual characteristic which is the fruit of the work of the Spirit in one’s heart. This must be seen in the true child of God and can be seen only in one who belongs to Christ.

There are three characteristics of true meekness. First of all, one who is truly meek recognizes his actual situation on the earth. He realizes that he is not the master nor the captain of his soul. Rather, he sees that he is dependent, both spiritually and physically. Physically he can do nothing to maintain his own life. Certainly he will consult a doctor, take his medicine, and avoid what is harmful to his health. Yet, even with that, he cannot add one day to his life or one heartbeat to his existence. The same thing is true spiritually. He knows that it is not a part of his original nature to seek out or to love God or his neighbor. By nature he would not love God’s law or Word. The meek one realizes that salvation is utterly impossible if it depended on him and his actions. This is the first and necessary part of meekness.

The second characteristic of meekness is that the meek one recognizes the source of all strength. That, of course, is none other than God, who is the fountain of all good, who creates and sustains all things, including my life, which He holds in His hands. In addition, God is the source of salvation for all His people. The God-ordained way of salvation is through the cross of Christ. This salvation He applies through the operation of His Holy Spirit who regenerates us. Having given us a new life, God calls us by His Word and Spirit, which leads to conversion and to a new obedience. All of this must come from God. None of it can possibly be the work of man.

The third and final characteristic of meekness is that the meek one is continually dependent upon God for Jesus’ sake. He knows that he need not defend and preserve himself in his own strength. He knows that God is his rock and refuge through every trial and affliction. He knows that his God will protect and deliver him in spite of all opposition. The meek look to their God for all things.

This meekness bears fruit. One who is meek does not vaunt himself. He does not boast of his own wisdom, intelligence, or possessions. Nor does he boast in his willingness to seek God or to accept Christ in his own strength. The meek says, “I am what I am by the grace of God alone.”

With respect to those who are around him, the meek does not fight back when the world shows its hatred, seeking to destroy or harm the church. He does not use the weapons of the world and use force to overcome the world. In turn he walks in faith, knowing that his heavenly Father will preserve and keep him. What the meek does use is his mouth, with which he testifies of the work of God in him and of his readiness to suffer for Jesus’ sake. This very attitude of humble submission will call forth additional mockery and scorn from the world.

The fruit of meekness is also seen in regard to the fellow saint. The meek does not try to elevate himself above the fellow saint, but each considers the other better than himself. Rather than seeking to advance himself by destroying the brother, he seeks to aid and direct his fellow saint, that together they may glorify their heavenly Father.

As to the origin of this meekness, we can certainly agree that it is not an inherited characteristic. Man, including you and me, is naturally proud and boastful. He is proud of his physical strength and intellectual accomplishments. He points to the conquering of many fatal diseases, the placing of a man on the moon, and the fact that he has done more in the last fifty years than has been done in all of preceding history. But worse than this is that man wants to believe that it is he who must first seek God. It is his belief that he himself has the power to come to Christ if only he wishes. He believes that there is in himself some good which will make him pleasing to God. In man there is no meekness, only stinking pride. By nature we certainly are not meek. God did not choose us because He saw in us some meekness. As children of God we must fight constantly against this sin of pride within.

On the positive side, we see that meekness is rooted in the meekness of Jesus Christ. Never was one so meek as our Lord. The apostle Paul speaks of Christ’s meekness in Philippians 2:6-8: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” In perfect meekness He bore what He personally did not deserve. Had He opposed this way for our salvation, there would have been no hope for deliverance. But He submitted to the will of God by bearing the wrath of the righteous God for the sins of His people unto the end that they might have life through Him. His meekness merits life for His people. Therefore they can take no credit or glory for themselves, but glorify Him who saved them completely. In this meekness the child of God submits himself unto the will of his heavenly Father. He believes that even as his Father has provided the way of salvation, his Father will also preserve and keep him on this earth, and finally bring him to heavenly glory. Such is the meekness of the child of God.

Thus far we have seen what meekness is and its origin. There is more. We have yet to describe the blessedness which is the possession of the meek. Although it seems impossible, they shall inherit the earth. Ultimately this refers to the new earth which shall be formed after the judgment day. Then there will be a new earth where righteousness shall dwell. Renewed by fire it shall be a fit place for the meek saints. Just think of it, no more curse there, no more death or suffering. The meek, and only the meek, shall inherit this new earth. What the wicked denied the child of God in this life, the child of God will inherit in the life to come. Proud man seeks to establish himself now on earth. He fashions it after his own design and plans. It is his purpose to take it away from those whose hope is in their God. But he is not able to hold on to it. After life’s brief span he dies, and he can take nothing with him. In spite of all his accomplishments, the earth shall be destroyed and be renewed for the meek.

Already this promise is somewhat fulfilled today for God’s children. It may not appear that way, since we do not usually possess much of this world’s wealth and we more often than not have to endure suffering for righteousness’sake. What we do have is the Word of God. Listen! “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (II Cor. 4:15). And again in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The wicked may appear to prosper while the meek appear to suffer, yet God so directs all things that they must be for the sake of His people. Whatever God sends He does so for the eternal spiritual profit of His dear children.

What comfort that is for us! We are not to fear in this cruel and proud world. We simply exercise patience, also a gift of God. In His own time God will give to us what He has promised: the earth. In thankfulness and gratitude we then walk in meekness even as Christ revealed this in the highest degree, believing that God will care and provide for His meek saints among whom we are numbered. Hold fast to this glorious truth, for in so doing we shall be exceedingly blessed