As we read through the Beatitudes (so far covering the poor in spirit and those who mourn), we encounter a word I don’t hear very often in daily conversation: Meek. Jesus used this word, also translated at gentle or humble, to draw a fairly strong conclusion:
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
When I think of world leaders, “meek” would not be the first adjective that comes to mind. Those who appear to “own” parts of the earth are dictators who rely on power and fear, the antitheses to gentleness and humility. Even in democracies, how many meek candidates do you expect to see on the ballot?
But these words directly reference Psalm 37, which contrasts the temporary power of the wicked with the eternal power of God and those who follow him. Indeed, when looking at the earth’s history, even the most powerful dictatorships and terrorists eventually toppled. In the end, all things belong to God, and it is those who humbly follow him who will receive his inheritance. Being “meek” suggests giving control completely back to him and trusting him; it doesn’t mean cowering under the hand of evil but instead claiming his eternal power. We know what the final outcome will be!
But what does it mean in the present, in our hearts and lives?
Is there any application to these words other than the final inheritance that is allotted in heaven?
As I was praying about these words, I realized several things:
God’s inheritance is far more than the physical and temporal. It is the spiritual inheritance of souls that starts now and lasts for eternity. An inheritance is bestowed to heirs upon the death of the owner; after Jesus died (and rose again!) his followers were the ones who received the commission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The ownership and responsibility for speaking the truth and sharing salvation was passed on to all who follow Jesus.
Expanding the Kingdom of Heaven is the task given to all of us who submit our lives to God, regardless of how he chooses to use us. Although right now the spiritual war rages on, Christ’s kingdom comes out victorious both now and forever. These words are both a promise and a calling: Submit to God’s will and he will use us to reclaim his kingdom, our inheritance.
Human power will never be enough to accomplish such a task; we must depend fully on Jesus. He will walk beside us, strengthening and guiding us every step of the way, as long as we allow him to control our lives. We humble ourselves and God will lift us up.
I find this promise and calling both daunting (we carry a big responsibility!) and comforting (we can depend fully on God’s power). When feeling overwhelmed by the challenges that stand before us, Psalm 37 offers comforting words. Here are some excerpts:
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes (vs. 3-7).
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you will look for them they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace (vs. 10-11).
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand (vs. 23-24).
Think of a meek lamb, fully relying on the Shepherd to guide it to a safe pasture and meet its needs. The lamb must simply trust and follow the Shepherd. Such humble dependence doesn’t always come naturally to us. Are you learning to trust in God? Delight in him? Commit your way to him? Be still before him?
The closer you are to him, the more effectively he can use your life for his glory! What desires is God putting in your heart? What steps is he guiding you to take?