by Rob Tims
It’s a word you rarely if ever use, and it’s a word that the Bible uses sparingly. Yet it’s the very word that defines what it means to relate to others as a Christian.
I’m talking about meekness.
You’ll find it in Psalm 37:11 – “But the meek will inherit the land and will enjoy abundant prosperity.”
You’ll also find it in Numbers 12:3 – “Moses was a very meek man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth.”
And perhaps most famously, you’ll find it in Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
Put all these passages together, and it becomes pretty obvious what it means to be meek. It means to commit the totality of one’s life to God, and to not fret when it appears the way of God may not be going forward in their lives and in the world.
Put another way, it is the front-facing quality of Christians to the world’s people and circumstances. It is the evidence of grace applied to watching world.
Consider Numbers 12:1-4, a story about Moses that reflects this well.
Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he married (for he had married a Cushite woman). 2 They said, “Does the Lord speak only through Moses? Does he not also speak through us?” And the Lord heard it. 3 Moses was a very meek man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth. 4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them went out.
Immediately striking is that the author injects commentary regarding Moses’ character into this story. In between describing a situation where there is bitter and hostile opposition and God working to vindicate the accused, there is this description of Moses as “meek.” And in so doing, we understand what meekness looks like in real life: Meekness is that point where living honestly before God and honestly before men come together.
Just where you would expect the Bible to tell us what Moses said to justify himself against Miriam and Aaron’s charges, the text says he was the meekest man on the earth. Moses never says a WORD. He doesn’t tuck tail and cower; nor is he defensive and revengeful. He doesn’t fret; he waits and trusts that God will come to his defense.
- Meek people have the power to absorb adversity and criticism without lashing back.
- Meek people have a proper attitude about themselves and express that properly in their relationships with others.
- Meek people do not assert themselves
- Meek people do not demand their so-called rights and/or privileges.
- Meek people are not always watching out for their own self-interests.
- Meek people never pity themselves.
- Meek people are amazed that God and man can think of them as well as they do and treat them as well as they do.
- Meek people are mild and gentle in their relationship with others.
- Meek people are free from the need to retaliate or take revenge.
- Meek people are patient, especially when they suffer unjustly.
- Meek people are ready … always ready … to listen and learn.
- Meek people have such a poor idea of themselves and their capabilities that they are ready to listen to others.
- Meek people are teachable.
- Meek people leave everything: rights, causes, reputation, future … in the hands of God.
Oh, that the Lord would make us meek people!
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.