Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). A regular challenge to Christianity is that it’s a group of weak people. Those who make this challenge don’t understand the difference between being meek or weak. These words are not synonyms but very different concepts.
The word translated as “meek” is “praus” in Greek. According to a Greek dictionary, it means “power under control as in a soothing medicine, a gentle breeze, a broken colt horse.” Nelson’s Bible Dictionary explains, “Meekness is an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward men, springing from a recognition that God is in control. It is strength and courage under control, coupled with kindness.”
The current crisis in Ukraine is because a very weak man (Putin) has control of the Russian military. He follows other weak men, such as Hitler, in bringing pain and suffering to innocent humans while he sits in comfort far away from where his weakness is being displayed. He is an example of power that is not under control.
We see the classic example of meekness in Jesus Christ. Christ shows His meekness in a plea to all of humanity, “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The yoke Jesus calls us to take on is being kind, gentle, fair, forgiving, and peaceful. It is not giving up power but putting it under God’s control. Those who are weak don’t know how to live except by violence and abuse. When Jesus was on Earth, no one accused Him of being weak. Instead, people said, “What is this, for with authority and power He commands … and the fame of Him went out into every place in the country around” (Luke 4:36-7).
Considering meek or weak persons, the Bible contains stories about meek heroes and weak people. For example, Abraham meekly gives his nephew Lot the first choice in dividing the land given to him. Lot takes advantage of Abraham’s strength to support his own weakness (Genesis 13:7-9). Joseph shows meekness in dealing with his treacherous brothers (Genesis 45:3-5). Saul, in his weakness, could not handle David’s success (1 Samuel 18:7-9). Simon wanted Paul’s power and tried to buy it (Acts 8:9-24). Governor Felix was too weak to handle the truth (Acts 24:24-27). King Agrippa was too weak to become a Christian (Acts 26:27-29).
Jesus showed meekness in the extreme by how He faced death. John 10:17-18 quotes Jesus saying that no one could take His life from Him, but He had the power to lay it down. When Peter demonstrated weakness by taking out a sword and slashing away at his enemies, Jesus told him to put the sword away. He said, “Don’t you think I could pray to my Father and He would give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:50-54). As a Christian, I am weak only when I don’t have the strength to measure up to the meekness that being a Christian requires.
I will never reach the meekness of great Christians of the past. I marvel at Paul, who changed from being an opponent of Christ to one of the meekest men who ever lived. I have not always shown meekness and have sometimes been very weak. Even Paul struggled with the challenge of being a Christian. Read Romans 7:14-8:2. The yoke Jesus offers is easy because God helps us. He is looking to save and not condemn us.
— John N. Clayton © 2022