Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I spoke in Part 1 about the unusual saying of Jesus found in the Beatitudes, best known as Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Greatly misunderstood, but a powerful statement on the way to personal happiness.
Meekness is not weakness
Now, to the second step to happiness. There are many steps we can take, but I want to say that happiness comes when we are willing to say ‘yes’ to God. Matthew 5:5 says, “God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them”. The ‘meek’ are those who submit to God’s authority, making him Lord. Interesting to remember that when Pope Francis was newly elected, he said that ‘meekness’ was his favourite virtue and that he always asks God to grant him a ‘meek heart’.
A paraphrase of this verse is: Blessed are those who submit to God as Lord, for they will be heirs to everything God possesses. Again, this is not an easy step to take, for it goes against the way we think. Why would I submit to God’s authority, not my own. Shouldn’t I please myself and enjoy life?
Meekness begins when we put our trust in God.
The word ‘meek’ has changed a lot in the past 350 years, and it certainly does not mean a person who is weak and cowardly without spirit—or that has some type of inferiority complex. No, not at all. It means tenderhearted, submissive, and what I like—strength under control. It’s like the captain of a ship at the helm on a stormy night, fully in control, steering the ship with full confidence.
The Old Testament speaks of Moses in Numbers 12 saying: “Moses was the most humble person in all the world” (verse 3), and that he was also courageous and very strong. Moses, the great lawgiver and leader is described as meek. Moses—who went before Pharaoh demanding the release of God’s people, who took his people out of Egyptian bondage, who stood before the Red Sea with staff in hand as it parted, who led a grumbling, complaining mob faithfully for four decades—was “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” according to Numbers.
Jesus is the model of meekness
So let’s be clear about this. Jesus said if you want to be truly happy, learn to be humble. True meekness may be a quality for strong-minded and naturally aggressive people; those who could very easily assert themselves—but choose not to do so. They know they are strong by nature, but decline to domineer. Instead, they deliberately choose to trust God, and believe he will care for them, better than they can themselves.
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Jesus himself was meek. He did not retaliate or threaten those who hated him and eventually killed him—Christ was ‘meek and lowly in heart’. He was not the blond-hair, blue-eyed, English-looking, and weak-looking figure of paintings. He was instead a strong man, who could do the physical labour of a carpenter/farmer. He could call down angels from heaven to do his bidding.
He stood silent before his accusers as they beat and taunted him. He took the nails in his hands and hung on the cross speaking only those words that brought forgiveness, mercy, and even redemption for the one condemned that hung beside him. Could a man of weakness accomplish what Jesus did?
What meekness truly is
Meekness is not the absence of passion and conviction and even indignation for the right reason. But it does mean that we don’t fly off the handle—it does mean that our disposition is one of readiness to listen and learn. It does mean that we are slow to write a person off, slow to condemn, slow to anger.
So let me say it again: the meekness of wisdom is open to reason—it is quick to listen to the reasons given by others for their opinions, and it is willing to give reasons for its own opinions. It cares about truth and whether others agree. And therefore it may become passionate and forceful. But it is always a servant. It is always submissive to a higher standard of truth. It is always willing to change to bring its opinions into line with truth. Meekness knows its own fallibility. But for that reason it takes debate and argument so seriously. It wants to discern its own errors and forsake them.
Meekness begins when we put our trust in God. Then, because we trust him, we commit our way to him. We roll onto him our anxieties, or frustrations, our plans, our relationships, our jobs, our health. And then we wait patiently for the Lord. We trust his timing and his power and his grace to work things out in the best way for his glory and for our good.
You’re looking for happiness? Remember Jesus wants you to say yes to him and hand over your life to him. That will be the start of a wonderful and fulfilling life with plenty of discoveries today and every day.