Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

-Matthew 5:5 (NIV)

In English, being meek can easily be misunderstood as ‘weak’.  For example, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives the following definitions: 1) enduring injury with patience and without resentment, 2) deficient in spirit and courage, and 3) not violent or strong.  When we turn to different translations of the word ‘meek’ (NIV, KJV) we come away with renderings as “gentle” (NASB) or “humble” (NLT, GNT).

Meekness: Power Under Control

The original Greek word stresses strength under control.  The best  illustration of true meekness is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:39, NIV

The truth is that there is not an English word that truly represents the Greek original.  There are English words for ‘strength’ and there are English words for ‘gentle’.  Having the strength to act at will, yet choosing to restrain and to submit approximates words such as obedient, humble, and disciplined.


Meekness is a critical part of the Beatitudes that both builds upon mourning and opens the door to righteousness.  Beginning with recognizing the disparity between God’s holiness and our brokenness (poor in spirit) we are brokenhearted to realize that our sin has been the cause of that separation (mourning).  Undone, we realize that our Higher Power knows exactly what we need and He provides the cure through His Son who bears our penalty Himself.

In meekness we accept the fact that God’s will is best and we devote ourselves to surrendering our own will and submitting to Him.  How does a person submit to God’s will?  The answer begins a life-long, impassioned quest for learning His will and applying it to our daily walk; we pray and examine His word, hungering and thirsting for righteousness.


When Jesus promises that the meek “will inherit the earth” it is true that He is speaking directly to the end times when Jesus comes again (Revelation 21).  I would suggest, however, that there is a way of understanding this promise that is present and real.  As we submit to Gods will we find that there is no location in God’s creation where He has not already gone, nor is there any place where the human heart can go that God has not already been.

For the meek there is no place on heaven or earth that is excluded to them for God’s will leads them there.  From the darkest corners of the human heart to the most horrific circumstances on the face of the earth, God is there and His presence can be reflected most brightly when His children shine the light of His presence wherever they go (Matthew 5:14-16).