The word, ‘meekness’, in the Bible, often has its meaning misunderstood. Many misunderstand meekness as weakness and timidity, and being afraid to stand up for oneself. It was not surprising then that when Jesus was described as meek, people turned away in disgust. However, the word ‘meekness’, especially when used in the New Testament, for instance, in the Sermon of the Mount (Matt. 5:5), pictures the control of a horse by bit and bridle. It chooses to submit to authority. Biblical meekness, therefore, is best described as ‘an attitude that submits to God’s dealings without rebellion, and to man’s injustice without retaliation’ (source unknown).
Like most people, I tend to get upset when there is injustice in any situation, especially when I am at the receiving end of injustice. Regardless of the situation, Jesus always walked in total submission to his Father. Meekness is a characteristic of Jesus – Learn of me, for I am meek (KJV, Matt. 11:29). When he was opposed, he did not even open his mouth. Peter says we should do likewise. Jesus did not commit any sin. When his enemies insulted him, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he did not make any threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to his father in heaven who judges justly (I Peter 2:21-23).
Meekness was also a characteristic of Moses (Num. 12:3). Moses was described as meek when Miriam and Aaron challenged his authority over the Israelites. When he was challenged, Moses did not say a word. Instead, he let God deal with it, and God did (Num. 12:1-15).
Jim White, in his book Christlikeness relates the testimony of a janitor that aptly illustrates the meaning of meekness. The first time they met, Jim asked him, “How are you?” He replied, “Oh not so bad, probably better off than most people.” As their conversation flowed on, he told Jim that he was a Christian and his 12-year-old son had been killed by a lorry while riding a bicycle. At the scene, he did not cry over his son but instead comforted the lorry driver. When a puzzled policeman at the scene asked him for the reason, he said his son was a Christian so he knew where his son was, but the lorry driver had no hope, and needed comfort. Next, he told Jim that his wife was also a Christian. She could not get over the grief of losing her son, and ended up in a mental institution. He had to work hard to pay the hospital bill. Since the state felt he could not take care of his daughter on his salary, he had to put her in a foster home. The painful part for him was to hear his daughter calling another man ‘Daddy’.
Here was a man who submitted to God in the midst of extreme circumstances, without rebellion. Living with the daily pain that resulted from the loss of his son, his wife being in a mental hospital, and his daughter calling another man ‘Daddy’ but yet being able to say, “Oh, not so bad, probably better off than most people”, is true meekness in action. This is the life and character to which God has called us.