Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Mat 5:5 NET)
This is a beatitude that is often heard in the church. We, as followers of Christ, are to be the meek. In order to analyse what this really means we must first break it down into its component parts and look at the original meaning.
The beatitudes in general are laid out in a ‘who is blessed – what they will get’ format. The general sense is that if you live in Christ and exemplify this attribute you will be rewarded in some way. So here we have straight forward lessons in Christian living from the mouth of our Lord and Saviour and we must take the beatitudes as such.
Three words jump out to me in this beatitude: meek, inherit, and earth. The word ‘meek’ comes from the Greek word πραεῖς (prais) and is more thoroughly defined as ‘a mild and friendly disposition gentle, kind, considerate, meek (in the older sense of strong but accommodating)’. The word ‘inherit’ comes from the Greek word κληρονομήσουσιν (kleronomesousin) and means much more than ‘inherit’ as we understand it in the modern sense. Here the word ‘inherit’ is much more accurately defined as ‘to receive something of considerable value which has not been earned’. It is worthy of note here that the word κληρονομήσουσιν is not in the present tense but is a future tense. Finally, ‘earth’ comes from the Greek word γῆν (gun), which is referring specifically to the earth or land but given the future tense of ‘inherit’ we can take it as referring to the new earth. This leads me to believe that this inheritance comes with the eschaton (end times), not now.
So, an expansion of this beatitude after having looked at the Greek language could be as follows:
Blessed are the mild, gentle, kind, considerate people that have a friendly disposition, for they will be given something of great value that they did not earn; the new earth.
Now that we have fully defined the pieces of this beatitude it becomes much easier to see its meaning and application for today. As Christians we are to be kind and gentle, considerate of the needs of others, we are to live with a servant attitude reminiscent of Matt. 20:16 and 20:28. This is an exhortation to follow the example of Christ. It is also worth noting that these are not imperative commands but simply Christ making statements about grace. God bestows His grace upon His believers that carry His image through the world and part of that image is to be meek.
I must mention the fact that meek, as part of the definition of πραεῖς, is to be taken as ‘strong but accommodating’. We are not to be Christian door mats and pushovers but good stewards of our ‘meekness’. We must be firm when the situation demands it, yet still live with a servant attitude. I also believe that here meekness goes two ways, towards others and towards God. God’s will is not necessarily our will but it is His will that must be done. We are not to try and assert ourselves over the will of God but follow His direction.