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Meekness is hard to define. It is not a subservient groveling. It is not a spineless acquiescence. The Greeks had no respect for meekness because they equated it with servility–people taking advantage of you, people walking all over you, people punching you in the gut as you thank them for the pleasure of being hit, that sort of thing.

But that’s not what the Bible means by meekness.

Meekness is a combination of patience, gentleness, and a complete submission to the will of God. Meekness is learning to be self-controlled instead of needing to be in control. Meekness is opening your heart instead of clenching your fist. Meekness is the firm resolve that it is always better to suffer than to sin.

Meekness is one of the great virtues of the Christian (Col. 3:12). The world may have no place for it, but the Bible does.

Moses was the meekest man on the earth (Number 12:3). And if you know anything about Moses, you know he wasn’t born with a meek personality. He killed somebody! We are not talking about a personality trait. You can be soft or loud, introverted or extroverted and still have meekness. Moses had to have meekness pressed into him by life and by the Lord.

Or think of Paul. There were big time issues in Corinth, and Paul wasn’t afraid to talk tough. But his first approach was to plead with the saints by the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2 Cor. 10:1).

If you think meekness is for losers, then you think Jesus is a loser. The Son of Man was a meek man (Matt. 11:29). Of course, that’s not the only thing to say about Jesus, but it’s one thing we can say.

When you are confronted, when you are wronged, when you get all hot and bothered and you’re tightening up inside, what does meekness look like? When you come after your adversaries is it with a whip or with a weep? Who’s sins upset you more, the sins of your neighbors or your own? Meekness is not about being a doormat. It’s about being dignified, even in the face of confusion, anxiety, and injustice.

Blessed are the meek, for they–of all people!–shall inherit the whole wide world (Matt. 5:5).

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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