“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”
— Matthew 5:5 (NASB)
Humility is a much vaunted quality in the realm of those who think spiritually. But what is it? Otherwise known as meekness, humility is that quality of gentleness for the sake of love. It is not being a pushover.
That’s why humility is such a comparatively rare quality – we show glimpses of it between tirades of pride and fear and selfishness and anger.
This third aphorism of Jesus’ commands a blessing for the person who can be gentle – a quality of quiet, assured strength, having no regard for having to have our own needs met.
What does it mean to inherit the earth? Is it to be taken as a literal rendering?
It can mean that the person who is gentle (humble and meek, also) has sufficient self-control of character to “own” the earth – at least whilst they have such mastery over their emotions, will, and thoughts.
Think about it; when we are perfectly balanced in the moment – exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit – which is joy, peace, love, goodness, faithfulness, etc – we do have the earth at our feet. The sky is the limit, as they say.
If humility (a.k.a. gentleness, in this context) is the key to having an ordered reality – the inheritance of place here on earth – we know, then, that pride will take us to a place out of this world in all the worst of ways.
Pride disenfranchises us from the sort of influence God would have for us in extending his Kingdom here on earth.
If we lord it over no one and we have the meekness to endure slights against our would-be pride we have all the keys to a joyful life – we inherit earth whilst we keep working hard in doing the honest and gritty character work in life.
So, the paradoxes of spirituality continue through all these Beatitudes.
Jesus turns sad situations into blessings for the faithful. And that’s really how life works out in the long run.
There is due reward for the sacrifice of humility. By ‘trying’ less we reap more relational success. And with good effect, the gentleness of humility is less work, because we must be relatively comfortable in our own skin – honest and real.
The gentle meekness of humility is about self and social control. When we try less and be ourselves more, we are humble, real and relational. Everyone wins.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.