Jesus said that we can
live above the chances, changes and circumstances we
face in life. It is easy for us to give our full
attention to difficulties in life and become bitter,
angry and filled with self-pity. If we focus on
hurts and disappointments there is a souring of our
attitudes and we become bitter, resentful and
hostile toward life.
It is not circumstances
and feelings, but attitudes that determine our
life-joy. We have a choice every day regarding the
attitudes we will embrace for that day. The third
beatitude helps us to focus on the right attitudes
toward life. Who is a "meek" or better "gentle"
person? You might be surprised at this principle of
the God–controlled person.
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE
Jesus said, "Blessed are
the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt.
5:5 NASB). The King James reads, "Blessed are the
meek . . ."
The word for "meek" or
"gentle" is one of the most beautiful and at the
same time one of the most difficult words in the New
Testament to translate. Most scholars point out
there is little difference between "poor in spirit"
in verse three and "meek" in verse five. The
emphasis Jesus makes here is on man's relationship
to God and his fellow man.
The gentle, meek, humble
people in verse five are the same ones viewed from a
different perspective in verse three. The word Jesus
used in verse 5, praeis, can hardly be
distinguished from "poor." It contained echoes of
someone who is unimportant.
Do not confuse this
"meekness" or "gentleness" with weakness. Our modern
English word "meek" has negative connotations of
someone who is psychologically submissive and easily
Jesus is emphasizing a
strength that comes from submission and trust in
God. These are people who don't put confidence in
their own power. They don’t need it because they are
trusting in God. He has inner strength because he
has a right relationship with God.
Our word stresses
humility as opposed to arrogant pride. It is an
attitude that causes us to be open to new ideas, to
grow in grace, to forgive and be forgiven. But it
also includes a humility that accepts truth from
others that we acknowledge ourselves. I can accept
the fact that I am a sinner and confess it to God,
but what is my attitude when you point out sin in my
This is the kind of
humility that will allow us to become aware of our
spiritual needs. It doesn’t reject becoming
convicted of our poverty in spirit. It is our only
proper attitude toward God. The gentle man knows his
own ignorance, limitation and needs. It is freedom
from all self-importance. Jesus described this
attitude in Matthew 5:3-4 when He said, "Blessed are
the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall
Numerous scholars bring
out various shades of meaning in this word. The
adjective praus means a gentle, humble,
considerate, and courteous person. It describes the
proper "balance between too much and too little
anger." There are some things in life that
should make us angry. Here is the person who is
"always angry at the right time, and never angry at
the wrong time" with just the precise amount of
anger. The gentle man is the man who can patiently
endure. He is proactive instead of aggressive.
The ancient Greek
physicians used this word to describe proper amount
of medicine for the sick patient. The appropriate
amount of medicine will bring a raging fever under
control. Too much of the medication will kill a
patient, too little will have no effect.
It can describe a calm
gentle soothing breeze on the oceanfront along a
beautiful beach as opposed to the raging winds of
major hurricanes and typhoons. Our word describes
the mild light wind on the ocean during calmer days.
It is awesome power of God under control.
This word for gentle is
also the regular word to describe a wild stallion
which has been broken. His furious wild energy
has been harnessed to obey the word of command. When
I think of this word I think of "Black Beauty" full
of wild and furious energy that is harnessed and at
the end of the movie we see a child climbing upon
this marvelous animal and riding off into a
beautiful golden sunset. It is power under control.
It is not someone who is "meek and mild," weak and
effeminate, but one who is "a gentle spirit." It is
a humble and gentle attitude toward God and others
which is determined by a true estimate of us.
The "gentle" man is under
the power and control of the Holy Spirit. The
indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit brings every
passion and desire into submission to God. It
includes self-control, but goes beyond that to give
power and inner strength to overcome the most
profound evil powers of our old human nature.
Without His strength we could never over the
behaviors in unregenerate nature.
This is the principle of
the Spirit–controlled man. We can't have true
spiritual prosperity without putting into practice
THE PRACTICE OF THE
"Gentleness" forces us to
take inventory of our attitudes and behaviors. It
expresses itself in our attitudes toward God,
ourselves and how we treat others.
A humble attitude toward
God and others makes us gentle, humble, sensitive
and patient in our dealings with others.
The Holy Spirit enables
us to over come carnal behaviors. "Now the works of
the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity,
depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife,
jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries,
dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness,
carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as
I had warned you before: Those who practice such
things will not inherit the kingdom of God!"
(Galatians 5:19-21, NET) To overcome these passions
and behaviors we need more than self-control. We
need God’s help!
This beatitude is
describing the blessing of the man who is completely
Spirit–controlled. It is strength under God's
control. Only the Spirit of God can give perfect
mastery of a person's desires. What Jesus is
emphasizing is the Spirit–controlled life. This
gentleness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The
apostle Paul said, "the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such
things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). There
is our word again, "gentleness."
The meek or gentle person
is walking in the Spirit (vv. 16-18). The opposite
of gentleness is the work of the flesh (vv. 19-21).
Who is in control of my life? Is it self or is it
the Holy Spirit? If everything is centered around I,
me and mine the sinful nature will dominate and
produce its fruit. However, when the Holy Spirit is
in control the radiance of Jesus Christ is seen in
How do you handle pride,
self-glory, aggression, manipulation, the tendency
to withdraw and give the old silent treatment, the
demand for position, power, privilege, and status?
These are manifestations of the flesh or our sinful
Let's take a quick
inventory. How do we measure up to God's view of
What is my attitude toward the circumstances in my
How do I act when I have the power to control a
person or situation?
What is my attitude toward God’s Word?
What is my attitude toward a division in the Body of
What is my attitude toward those who disagree with
How do I handle rejection? How do I relate to
How do I use my emotional, political, personal
The gentle person accepts
God's dealings as for his good without disputing
with Him. He will not fight God. He looks at life
and sees God’s hand in all his circumstances. With
deep conviction he can say with the apostle Paul,
"And we know that God causes all things to work
together for good to those who love God, to those
who are called according to His purpose" (Romans
Someone expressed that
conviction in these words of faith. "God is too kind
to do anything cruel. . . Too wise to make a
mistake. . . Too deep to explain Himself. When we
know WHO, we can stop asking, 'Why?'" That is your
gentle person who under the control of the Holy
Jesus is our best example
of gentleness. The prophet Isaiah spoke of Him:
"This fulfilled what was spoken by Isaiah the
prophet: ‘Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the
one I love, in whom I take great delight. I will put
my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to
the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out, nor
will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will
not break a bruised reed or extinguish a smoldering
wick, until he brings justice to victory. And in his
name the Gentiles will hope’" (Matthew 12:17-21,
NET). Jesus said to His disciples: "Take my yoke on
you and learn from me, because I am gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your
souls" (Matthew 11:29, NET).
Imagine the Roman
soldiers casting their dice and the rabble in front
of the cross shouting, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"
At the cross we see Jesus bearing no resentment, no
grudges. He committed His way entirely to the
Father. He could have called down ten thousand
angels, but He chose to pray, "Father, forgive them
for they know not what they do." There is infinite
power under control!
David was being hunted
down by King Saul who threatened to kill him. When
David had the chance to slit his throat he refused.
Here was power under control. He refused to touch
The patriarch Joseph
chose to forgive his foolish brothers who sold him
as a slave when they arrived in Egypt to purchase
grain. He was forgotten among men but remembered by
God. It was a man under God's control who could say
to them, "And now do not be grieved or angry with
yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent
me before you to preserve life. . . God sent me
before you to preserve for you a remnant in the
earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
. . God has made me lord of all Egypt" (Genesis
45:5-9). God chose Joseph to deliver them and "the
best of all the land of Egypt is yours" (v. 20).
How can we possibly
forget the apostle Paul singing praises to God while
in prison in Philippi? Paul and Silas were "dragged
into the marketplace before the authorities." They
were "beaten with rods. And when they had inflicted
many blows upon them, they threw them into prison,
commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and
he, having received such a command, threw them into
the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the
stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were
praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the
prisoners were listening to them. . ." (Acts 16:19-
25). God used the circumstances to add to His
kingdom. Here was the Spirit–controlled man yielding
himself to God for strength to overcome the chances,
the changes and circumstances in his life.
Each of these great
saints accepted God’s manner of dealing with them as
His good and perfect will. It was for God’s glory
and their good. God always gives His very best to
those who humble themselves before Him.
The gentle man will not
fight against God or struggle and contend with Him.
But how do we treat those who mistreat us? How do we
respond to those who stab us in the back? The gentle
person leaves everything in the hands of a loving
God. The condition upon which we enter our spiritual
inheritance in Christ is not might, but meekness.
Everything is ours if we are Christ's. Therefore, to
those who are willing to yield their lives to the
work of the Holy Spirit there is the promise "they
shall inherit the earth."
THE PROMISE TO THE
"Blessed are the gentle
for they shall inherit the earth."
The verb "inherit" here
means "to receive by lot, and then inherit,
possess." It signifies to take possession of your
inheritance. It is yours; here take possession and
It is not the inheritance
given upon the death of a testator that Jesus has in
mind here. The thought is eschatological. Jesus is
looking forward to the coming of His messianic
kingdom. When He returns in glory the meek will
inherit the earth. In the end it is the gentle, not
the self-assertive who will have a place in God's
kingdom. "If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him, He also will deny us" (2 Timothy
2:12; cf. Lk. 22:29-30; Matt. 20:28; 25:31-34; Rev.
The promise Jesus gave
looks forward to the kingdom of God whereby He rules
all over the earth (v. 3). There is coming a day
when the LORD God will rein upon the earth and His
people will enjoy their inheritance. The New English
Bible reads, "They shall have the earth for their
possession." Phillips says, "for the whole earth
will belong to them." Another way of translating it,
"God will give them the whole earth to possess."
What is God going to
give? "God will give them what He has promised" or
"God will give them all the blessings (or, good
things) He has promised."
What does it mean
to inherit the earth?
I believe that the
fullest realization of man's redemption finds its
fulfillment only in the person of Jesus Christ. Man
was originally created sinless. But Adam disobeyed
God and thrust all his descendents into a horrible
depravity of sin. Therefore, redeemed humanity has
been elevated by means of the death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ to the highest rank of all created
beings. Angels peek in to see what God is doing with
His elect. God in His grace and redemption through
Jesus Christ has elevated His chosen ones to the
most sublime heights possible short of becoming
members of the Godhead. Now let us not make the
foolish mistake of the cults that teach that we
become gods and will one day go off into the
universe and populate our own planets. That is sheer
error and nonsense. However, the salvation that we
receive by believing in Christ is more than a
restoration of what God fully intended when He made
man in His image because man has been redeemed. The
believer is "in Christ." When we look into the face
of Christ we see how far we have fallen and what God
fully intended us to be. God sees us "complete in
Christ." The apostle Paul wrote, "We proclaim Him,
admonishing every man and teaching every man with
all wisdom, so that we may present every man
complete in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). The Holy
Spirit is at work in the believer conforming us to
the likeness of Christ. His goal is to present us
finished, complete, mature, full grown and perfect
to the Father. The mature believer belongs to the
fullness of Christ. Jesus Christ is the pattern for
normal Christianity. There can be no greater
exaltation of the redeemed. This is what He has
accomplished for us in the person and work of Jesus
Christ. Because of what Christ has done I want to be
the person God fully intended me to be in Christ
Let’s claim our
inheritance. God has something wonderful waiting for
us. "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on
us, that we would be called children of God; and
such we are. For this reason the world does not know
us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are
children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what
we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be
like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And
everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies
himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).
One of the
Ecuadorian martyrs said before his
death, "I want to live to the hilt
of every situation that I believe to be the
will of God."