In religious terms, meekness and hope are both powerful concepts necessary to elevation of character in this life and eternal joy. Outside this sphere though, these words seem to have lost their power, becoming meaningless and worthy only of pity for those who profess to seek them. Dictionary.com defines meekness as (a) humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others, and (b) overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame. Under these, it lists as “obsolete”: gentle; kind.
This is kind of amazing, and sad, to me, because I’ve always understood them so differently, in their original and beautiful religious sense. This misunderstanding has no doubt been promulgated by the same source that caused the Saviour of the world to be depicted in art for centuries as effeminate and physically weak. No one who reads the New Testament could fail to recognise that Jesus of Nazareth was nothing of the sort, but was in fact full of power, intelligence and glory. He who graciously served His mother, calmed the wind and the waves, fed thousands from meagre supplies, rebuked devils, healed hundreds and completed the most excruciatingly difficult mission ever to be performed in this universe was not weak, but is the greatest Hero in space and time.
He who described Himself as meek and humble of heart also commanded us to be like Him. So I’d like to explain a little about what meekness really is.
Meekness is not mind[ing] high things, as Paul says, but conforming willingly with the humble (Romans 12:16). It is not placing too high a price on your own dignity; it’s putting others first and considering what is good for all instead of being consumed with your own needs and wants. It is being as the Saviour is, who considered our own redemption, our happiness, above His own comfort. Meekness is serving instead of condemning, loving instead of seeking retribution. It’s recognising that we are all beggars, as King Benjamin put it, dependent on God for all that we have and are – and therefore, realising that we are one family, one body. Elevating ourselves above another denies this truth and makes us fools before God. Those who think themselves great and better than others are in fact less than those who recognise that each of us has a role to play, and humbly go about doing theirs.
Jesus Christ became our Redeemer, with its load of exquisite suffering and constant shepherding, not only despite the majesty and glory of His Godhood, but because of it. No other being would have done it – none of us could have, but none of us would have, either. Only a God could have sufficient meekness to do it. Meekness is a godly attribute, not a human one. It doesn’t sit well with the ‘natural man’. King Benjamin taught that we must put off the natural man in order to become meek. As the most powerful Being in the universe, God is full of meekness, which leads to the conclusion that it is a principle, not of weakness, but of power.
Finally, the meek see what is real and needful. Not being consumed with their own importance, or made deaf by the noise of their own voices, they listen to the Holy Spirit, feel God’s voice in their hearts, see the need of their brethren and share their pain, and know the joy of communing with God. Therefore, they will inherit the earth, which will be the abode of God. Becoming meek is a requirement for continued membership in God’s kingdom. Only those who are like Christ at His coming will see Him as He really is – in all His glory – because they have learnt to truly see.