In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus opens with a series of statements known as the Beatitudes. The third Beatitude is “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Jesus’ words echo Psalm 37:11, which says, “The meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.” What does it mean that the meek are “blessed”?
First, we must understand what it means to be blessed. The Greek word translated “blessed” in this verse can also be translated “happy.” The idea is that a person will have joy if he or she is meek. The blessedness is from God’s perspective, not our own. It is a spiritual prosperity, not necessarily an earthly happiness.
Also, we must understand what “meek” means. The Greek word translated “meek” is praeis and refers to mildness, gentleness of spirit, or humility. Other forms of this Greek word are used elsewhere in the New Testament, including James 1:21 and James 3:13. Meekness is humility toward God and toward others. It is having the right or the power to do something but refraining for the benefit of someone else. Paul urged meekness when he told us “to live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1–2).
Meekness models the humility of Jesus Christ. As Philippians 2:6–8 says, “[Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Being “in the very nature God,” Jesus had the right to do whatever He wanted, but, for our sake, He submitted to “death on a cross.” That is the ultimate in meekness.
Meekness was also demonstrated by godly leaders in the Old Testament. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses “was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth” (ESV).
Believers are called to share the gospel message in gentleness and meekness. First Peter 3:15 instructs, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” The KJV translates the word for “gentleness” here as “meekness.”
Someone who knows Christ as personal Savior will be growing in meekness. It may seem counterintuitive, but Jesus’ promise stands—a meek person will be happy or blessed. Living in humility and being willing to forego one’s rights for the benefit of someone else models the attitude of Jesus Christ. Meekness also helps us to more effectively share the gospel message with others. Striving for power and prestige is not the path to blessedness. Meekness is.