Who wants to be “meek”? It doesn’t seem very appealing does it? What is it to be meek? Perhaps, it means being weak, a pushover, a doormat, spiritless, or submissive?
“Meekness” (more common in the King James Version) and “gentleness” (used by the New
Revised Standard Version in the Liturgy) are used interchangeably to translate the New Testament Greek term πραΰς (praus).
Jesus taught that the meek are blessed and to be inheritors of the earth (Matthew 5.5). So how does that work? Paul described meekness, or gentleness, as a fruit of Spirit (Galatians 5.23; 6.1). Elsewhere he identifies this character trait with Jesus: “I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10.1).
It is one of the gifts of election: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3.12–13). Also, it is one of the gifts of calling: “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4.1–3).
Why should we care about being meek / gentle as Christians? The witness of scripture clearly values this character trait, which is a fruit of our life with the Holy Spirit as we are incorporated into Christ.
How do we practice meekness, or gentleness, in our lives? John Climacus (c. 579–659, monk and author of The Ladder) encourages us in the way of meekness (Step 24): “Meekness is a mind consistent amid honor and dishonor.” Who among us when praised, or criticized, can keep our equilibrium and focus on Christ? Meekness is “a minister of joy, an imitation of Christ the possession of angels … The Lord finds rest in the hearts of the meek”. How is this possible? “A meek soul is a throne of simplicity,” says Climacus.
What choices and actions can we make in our lives at this time to live more simply?
Father Mark Greenaway-Robbins