Who the Meek are Not. . .


April 24, 2014

Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 


When we think of the word, “meek,” it conjures up a host of synonyms we don’t much want to be associated with: wimpy, spineless, weak, doormat, milk-toast, namby pamby, wishy washy, wuss, insert your own here. Some years ago I came across a poem by Mary Karr entitled, “Who the Meek are Not.” It revolutionized my understanding. Here’s the part of the poem that got me.

My friend the Franciscan
nun says we misread
that word meek in the Bible verse that blesses them.
To understand the meek
(she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop
in a meadow, who—
at his master’s voice—seizes up to a stunned
but instant halt.
So with the strain of holding that great power
in check, the muscles
along the arched neck keep eddying,
and only the velvet ears
prick forward, awaiting the next order.

I now think of meekness as a perfect blending of two seemingly opposite qualities: of shrewdness and innocence, of power and restraint, of mercy and justice and so on.

Wesley offers a resonant take:

They who are truly meek can clearly discern what is evil; and they can also suffer it. They are sensible of everything of this kind, but still meekness holds the reins. They are exceeding “zealous for the Lord of hosts”; but their zeal is always guided by knowledge, and tempered, in every thought, and word, and work, with the love of man, as well as the love of God. They do not desire to extinguish any of the passions which God has for wise ends implanted in their nature; but they have the mastery of all. They hold them all in subjection, and employ them only in subservience to those ends. And thus even the harsher and more unpleasing passions are applicable to the noblest purposes; even hatred, and anger, and fear, when engaged against sin, and regulated by faith and love, are as walls and bulwarks to the soul, so that the wicked one cannot approach to hurt it. p.25

And what about the meek inheriting the earth? It’s another way of saying that meekness is ultimately mastery.

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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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