Why Would I Want to be Meek?
Last week I was reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-12) and went through the lines, thinking how amazing the teaching was…
- Yes! Thank you God, that you bless those who’re feeling at the end of themselves and need you and comfort those who’re mourning.
- Blessed are the meek… right, ok… I’ll come back to that one…
- Amen, to blessing those seeking righteousness and giving mercy to the merciful!
- Pure in heart seeing God? Cool!
- The peacemakers being called children of God? Love that!
- …but, ‘blessed are the meek’? Why? That’s a wet lettuce kind of characteristic, isn’t it? I don’t want to be meek!
And here I got stuck – why was Jesus talking about the meek in this way?
So, I did what any good millennial would do and took to Google: ‘define meekness’. There were several definitions that fitted the description I’d envisaged, but then I found one that was different. I took to social media to share my new-found wisdom…
I’ve never understood why ‘meek’ should be a desired characteristic until I found this definition: “meekness meaning restraining one’s own power, so as to allow room for others.”
Imagine a world if we all did that!
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”.
— Hannah Ling (@thehannahling) April 4, 2019
Normally my tweets get a handful of likes or a reply to a question (or sometimes a complaint!) I’ve directed at a company. I got a bit of a shock when this tweet swiftly and significantly became my most popular tweet to date. “I’ve gone viral!” I told everyone (“I hope it’s not contagious!” my brother retorted! Queue the eye rolls).
I was initially a little bemused, but the popularity of my tweet got me thinking about why the content had created so much engagement. Two main things occurred to me:
- I’m not the only one who struggles with the word ‘meek’
- We need real meekness in our world
I’m not the only one who struggles with the word ‘meek’
The word ‘meek’ make me imagine someone who is shy and retiring, a bit of a pushover, passive, someone who lets people walk over them, who doesn’t have strong views or refuses to share their opinions. To be honest, when Jesus said, ‘blessed are the meek’, I was thinking of it as a weakness.
But the definition of meekness as ‘retraining one’s own power, so as to allow room for others’* speaks of something entirely different – of someone who is confident but not arrogant, is active not passive, who doesn’t need to be the centre of attention or have their opinions forced on others or be acknowledge as ‘right’. It speaks of someone who values others and wants to raise them up and knows that this won’t be at the detriment of themselves. A meek person acknowledges their own power but shows restraint in order to be inclusive and share that power.
I love the line in The Message translation that says something similar – when we live God’s way we find we’re “not needing to force our way in life” (Galatians 5:22-23).
This kind of ‘meekness’ made me excited – imagine a world where we were all like this! I hope you’re catching some of my excitement on the potential impact this totally counter-cultural approach would have on the world! I want to be this definition of meek!
We need real meekness in our world
It’s likely that the reason so many people engaged with this way of looking at meekness, is because it spoke in to people’s contexts.
Take a moment to take stock of how you view the world. What words come to your mind when you think of the following:
- Our country’s politics and government (I go straight to Brexit here)
- Society’s view on success and status (I’m particularly thinking about career and major life goals/events)
- How we treat wealth and the most vulnerable (think inclusivity and exclusion; think these stats on homelessness)
- How we disagree with those we have different opinions to (not just social media trolls, but how we avoid ever speaking to those with different views altogether!).
I look at the world around me and the way I interact with it and I think we’re all in need of learning some real meekness.
Why would we want to be ‘meek’?
With this new way of looking at it, I would love us to be meeker because it has the potential to turn the world topsy-turvy in a kingdom of God kind of way and to value other people rather than focusing on forcing our opinions, comfort and success.
I’m going to be praying that God teaches me and you how to be this kingdom of heaven kind of meek. It’s not going to be easy, but I pray that the world would look different because we’re living differently. Would you join in with this prayer too?