The Strength to Be Meek

Few of us want to be meek. We often think of meekness as being spiritless, excessively humble, or obsequious. Many people would rather be in the forefront of society or proclaiming from the platform, not hanging back near the kitchen door or hiding out in the back row of seats. A certain amount of bravado and putting oneself forward is a natural human response. However, Jesus taught in the Beatitudes that meekness is important and that those who are meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

Are we accurate in assuming that being a meek person means to be a milquetoast? Timidity is not the meaning of being meek. Jill Briscoe says, "The word meekness has the connotation of something totally wild that has been tamed . . . something akin to a wild horse that has been bridled (and) harnessed . . . a sense of control."1

Being meek does not mean that we can't be in leadership. Moses was one of the most meek people on earth, yet he had the dynamic personality that made him a great leader. In his meekness, he identified himself totally with those he led. When God intended to destroy the Israelites because of their perverse ways, Moses told God if He planned to destroy them, "‘Then blot me out of the book you have written'" (Exodus 32:32).

Being meek implies putting oneself under the control of another. Abigail found herself married to a churlish man, "surly and mean in his dealings" (1 Samuel 25:3). Later in the chapter, we see that when her husband was so drunk that he passed out, Abigail took control of an explosive situation that could have brought death to many, and she handled it with wisdom, dispatch, and authority (25:14-31). Our meekness does not imply inability; it shows that we are under control.

Meekness may mean taking the second place rather than the first. Deborah was such a woman (Judges 4). When Barak refused to obey God unless the prophetess went with him, Deborah agreed, but she did not take control. Barak won the battle, but, as Deborah had prophesied, the glory for the victory went to a woman, Jael, who killed Sisera, the commander of the Canaanites.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, submitted her life and her body to God's control. She was well aware of the difficulties and the censure that would come to her if she were pregnant and unmarried. In her culture, she could be stoned to death. And what would Joseph, the man she loved, have to say about her condition? Yet, she said to the angel, "‘I am the Lord's servant . . . . May it be to me as you have said'" (Luke 1:38). She placed herself completely under God's control, trusting that He would protect her and preserve her intended marriage to Joseph.

When we fully submit our lives to God, we can have a quiet confidence that He is in control.


1   Jill Briscoe, A Gentle Spirit (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour, 1999).