Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
When you are comforted in your mourning, seek to advocate for those who suffer and not for yourself, then you will receive the benefits and responsibilities of the earth.
In godly mourning, we understand our suffering and are comforted, we become gentle (meek) to those around us who are suffering.
The word meek evokes images of weakness and a negative sort of submissiveness; people who do not speak up for themselves and others. Another translation of the Hebrew is humble or lowly. When we become poor in spirit which leads us to godly mourning we then become humbled. Meek has other meanings, of course. Google defines it this way:
quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive
etymoline.com defines it as:
gentle, quiet, unaggressive; benevolent, kind; courteous, humble, unassuming;
So, the opposite of meek would be loud, harsh, aggressive, malevolent, rude, self-asserting, and presumptuous. In other words, selfish. If we are the opposite of meek, then we act only in the interests of ourselves. But when we empty out the riches of our selfishness for the poverty of selflessness, and when we grieve for a suffering world then we can only be meek.
There is another kind of submissiveness. When we submit ourselves to a higher power, we become servants of the higher good. This is not a weakness. This brings strength into our lives. This is the submission of a righteous person.
And then we inherit the earth. But what is the earth? Earth the planet? Earth the wealth? Earth the power? Earth the property? I do not believe Jesus is meaning these earthly elements. I believe Jesus may be echoing a common theme in his ministry: abundant life. Earth represents the good things which God has created in the earthly realm, including the people.
This is a touchy subject theologically. There are those who would suggest that if we are righteous and submissive, we will receive abundance in the form of earthly, monetary blessings; whereas the truth may be that we are just as likely to receive poverty. In our poverty, the blessings we receive are in an inheritance of gifts of the spirit, an earthly expression of a God-centered life.
And when we have inherited abundance, we are invited to share it. Our gifts of gentleness, quiet, benevolence, kindness, courteousness, and humility (the sum of meekness) mean absolutely nothing unless they are shared. We become, therefore, advocates for God’s gifts. When we are void of selfish desires, the only fulfillment of desires remaining are of those in need whom we encounter in our daily lives.
In the Journal of Social Psychology, a study was published: Acts of Kinds and Acts of Novelty Affects Life Satisfaction which concludes the following:
The groups that practiced kindness and engaged in novel acts both experienced a significant—and roughly equal—boost in happiness; the third group [those who didn’t practice acts of kindness] didn’t get any happier. The findings suggest that good deeds do in fact make people feel good—even when performed over as little as 10 days—and there may be particular benefits to varying our acts of kindness, as novelty seems linked to happiness as well.
Further studies have suggested that our brains are rewarded with feel-good chemicals when we are kind. This all suggests that we have been designed for kindness.
In my Educational Psychology class in college, the professor asserted that there is no such thing as selflessness. We are kind because of what it does for us. I argued with her on the matter. My argument was that although there are personal benefits to kindness, that does not mean that our motivations are to gain them.
As an illustration, I invite you to consider a scenario in which you have to deny your own desires to act kindly to someone. Perhaps you are binge-watching your favorite tv show and a friend calls. His car is broken down outside of town, and it is cold and rainy. What benefit are you seeking to leave your cozy abode to brave weather and interrupt your evening? Do you do it out of obligation? Do you do it in case you are stuck with the same scenario and might need his assistance; a quid pro quo? Perhaps. But perhaps you feel compassion or godly sorrow for him. You deny your personal desires to consider his needs. This is kindness without thought of reward. Yes, you may feel better. Yes, you may be returned the kindness. But these are not guarantees.
Jesus was meek throughout his ministry. One story comes to mind. On the night before his execution, Jesus served a Passover meal to his disciples at which he washed their feet as a servant would do. He humbled himself. He submitted himself. He relinquished his rights as the master to become a servant. He became meek even as he suffered and died. He did not advocate for his own needs but considered only the suffering of the world.
Giving as Jesus gave begins with meekness, which all begins with being comforted in our godly mourning (a form of compassion), which all begins with emptying oneself. A wise friend once said to me:
Tread gently on this good Earth.
When I feel quite the opposite of meek, sometimes, in order to change my state of mind, I become conscious of my feet. I walk very gently. And that gentleness in the soles of my feet spreads to my hands and to my tongue. When you walk through your house late at night, do you walk gently out of consideration for others or do you stomp around and slam doors? Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.