“Blessed are the meek (πραεῖς, кроткие), for they will inherit the earth.” (Mt 5: 5)
Now here’s a word you don’t hear very often: “meek.” What does it mean? Meekness is a gentle attitude displayed toward other human beings and God, when confronted with specific actions toward oneself of those human beings or God. Meekness involves acceptance, withholding of judgment, patience, humility, and – especially with respect to God – teachability. Christ invites us to learn meekness from Him, promising us peace or “rest” for our souls: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt 11: 29)
The intriguing promise that the meek “will inherit the earth” is also connected with the promise of peace. We see this in Psalm 36/37, which our Lord is quoting when He says that the meek shall “inherit the earth”: “Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more,” it says in this Psalm, “though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in an abundance of peace.” (Ps 36/37: 10-11) In the Old Testament, one would equate “the earth” with the promised “land” of Canaan, which was the ultimate manifestation of God’s favor and blessing to His people; it was the granting of the heart’s desire.
In the New Testament we similarly understand “inheriting the earth” as the ultimate manifestation of God’s favor and blessing, which comes with “delighting in an abundance of peace.” This happens to the meek, who experience contentment in life, as well as an “abundance of peace,” regardless of their outer circumstances. Because they have full acceptance of God’s will for them, and have peace with precisely the things, situations, and people God has given them. This is a state of mind not guaranteed by any amount of material wealth, but by meekness. Without the grace of meekness, even the wealthiest can live in a state of unhappiness, as if they had nothing, as the Lord says elsewhere: “For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him." (Mk 4: 25)
Let me ask for His peace and His meekness, as I start my day with gratitude. “Blessed are the meek,” my Lord reminds me today, “for they shall inherit the earth.”