Here’s an often misunderstood passage in the Scriptures. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5 KJV).” We often get the wrong impression. Meekness and humility certainly don’t imply low self-esteem. We surely cannot interpret those verses as God saying He is going to turn the keys to the earth over to a bunch of ‘Caspar Milquetoasts’ or poor souls with low self-esteem. No Way! As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite. Meekness simply means submitting to a higher authority; humility means giving credit to that higher authority. Whereas low self-esteem becomes a noose around various people’s necks, prohibiting them from being the best they can be; meekness means ‘coachable’—capable of being easily taught and trained to do bigger and better things. Meekness in no way diminishes our strength or abilities, but serves to harness our energies, leading us to accomplish greater goals. It should be noted here that in the KJV, the word “meek” occurs 17 times in 16 verses, and in each case it is shown to be a valuable and rewarding attribute. When we are told In both Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5 that “the meek shall inherit the earth” He is saying that He is reserving that special privilege for souls, large and small who have submitted all their gifts and talents to the authority of Almighty God.
Let me tell you a couple of interesting stories illustrating meekness and humility Consider the wild stallion. He is such a potentially magnificent animal. He is big and strong, fast and beautiful. He has near unbelievable ability and stamina. But he is wild and untamed, serving no profitable purpose. If and when he is brought into subjection under a talented master, he is in no way less powerful. He has lost none of his strength and beauty. If we abide by the adage, ‘beauty is as beauty does’, he is actually becoming even more valuable and beautiful as his vast energies are harnessed to the greater good. He is being transformed from a wild, useless beast of the open range into a superb object of pride and great value to his master, capable of performing a number of strenuous, profitable tasks. Because of his ‘coachable’ attributes, his harnessed strength has become so legendary that we even rate engines by their ‘horsepower’.
And in the second illustration of meekness and humility, consider Gale Sayers. I would suppose that any sports fan who is familiar with great football running backs of the past would include Gale Sayers as one of the greats. He is considered by many to have been the greatest open field runner in college football history. While playing college football for the University of Kansas, he was twice recognized as an All American. He was then Chicago’s first-round pick in the 1965 NFL draft and was able to translate his remarkable college football prowess into the NFL. In his first season he established all sorts of rookie records including most touchdowns (22), tied for most touchdowns in a game (6), highest career kickoff return average (30.56 yards), and tied for most return touchdowns in a game (2). Sayers played all seven years of his illustrious pro career for ‘Da Bears’ and was an NFL 4-time Pro Bowler & 5-time First-Team All-Pro. He was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One would readily conclude that if anyone could deserve to have a highly inflated ego, Gale Sayers would have fallen into that category.
But he didn’t. As he wrote in his autobiography, “In college my track coach was Bill Easton, who had compiled an outstanding record at Kansas . . . And it was Bill Easton who taught me about work . . . The first time I went into Coach Easton’s office, when I was a sophomore, I saw the sign, like a placard, on his desk: I AM THIRD. I wondered what it meant. So finally I asked him. He said, `The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.’ I don’t live by it all the time, I know, but keeping the saying close to me helps bring me back, keeps me from straying too far from that philosophy.” That little placard evidently struck a nerve in the budding star and became the motto of his life. He was obviously ‘coachable’. His humility became one of his main virtues. Even the title of his autobiography is ‘I Am Third’ and became the basis for the 1971 movie Brian’s Song, a true story about his friendship with fellow Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo who died of cancer. As great as Gale was, I think the majority of us would probably respect him as much, or more, for his meekness and humility as for his prodigious ability as a running back. In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
As strange and improbable as it may seem, the same can be said of us. When we become meek (coachable)—when we submit ourselves to Almighty God—when we make Him the Lord of our all our spiritual gifts and talents and energies, we too can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).” Then when we have accomplished great things through to strength of our all-powerful God, humility should automatically follow. Humility doesn’t mean hiding our pride behind an ‘Aw Shucks’ attitude. But, true humility in our lives means giving God all the credit for any and all accomplishments we have achieved. We should readily acknowledge the source of our strength. I would also call our attention to a couple of interesting Scripture verses regarding humility. In James 4:10 we read, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (KJV)”. And again, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:6 KJV).” And as the previous verses and illustrations indicate, true meekness and humility have excellent pay days. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).”