For the past few weeks I’ve been mulling over the concept of meekness, the Biblical concept, as in “the meek shall inherit the Earth”.
On Friday while chatting with coworkers one of them reported the answer to a knotty problem we had been wrestling with. I laughed and said, “Oh good….I was right!”
My friends teasingly accused me of gloating. When I tried to claim that I was just expressing joy it was pointed out that the look on my face and the inflection of my voice had more gloating than joy in it. I had to admit that they were right. Gloating is not an ingredient of meekness.
Some folks seem to confuse meekness with shyness. But shyness is usually the result of being self-conscious…being focused on one’s self and insecure about the impression one is making upon others. True meekness is other-consciousness…being focused on making others feel comfortable and secure.
So, while gloating does nothing to help others feel good about themselves, neither does being shy and self-conscious.
When I try to identify the components of meekness one of the first attributes I think of is humility. Genuine humility is a recognition of the self-hood of others, the awareness that each person is as real and as worthy of love and respect as I am. Humility accepts the validity of another person’s thoughts and feelings.
Dickens painted a scathing portrait of false humility in his character, Uriah Heep, in the book, David Copperfield. Heep goes out of his way to imply with his words and body language that he is the meekest and humblest of men, while at the same time showing all too plainly that self-interest is his driving force.
Christians need to be wary about this sort of meekness one-up-manship. When we sing in the old hymns of man’s low stature in relation to our creator God and our unworthiness of his grace and sacrificial love we need to balance it with the knowledge of our own preciousness in God’s eyes. And then we must try to see each person we encounter through God’s perspective.
That is when meekness enters one’s heart. The awe and gratitude you feel when you try to wrap your brain around the magnitude of the love of God for you, becomes meekness and humility when extended to others.
I’ve sometimes joked about being “God’s favorite child”… because I am…but we all are. That’s one of his mysteries. He loves each of us as if there were only one of us. God sees me through the filter of Christ when I accept him as my savior. That’s huge. It makes me humble and proud at the same time. But when I expand that reality to include the people I deal with it makes me meek, as well. I no longer feel that I must insist on my “rights” or take offense at slights.
True meekness is the absence of fear and competition in our relationships. It is trusting God to take care of justice and fairness. Resting on faith in his word and his unchanging love we are free to live as inheritors of this Earth and citizens of the next.