September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”—Matthew 5:5 (NIV)
As I examine the entire Marvel Studios collection, I’ve most enjoyed the Captain America films. There is just so much heart and sincerity in the character, and a real moral center! For me, one of the most poignant scenes in the entire trilogy took place in the first film when Steve Rogers asks the doctor why he was chosen for the Super-Soldier Program. And Dr. Abraham Erskine, played by the fantastic actor Stanley Tucci, answers: “Because the strong man who has known power all his life may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion.”
As I considered the fruit of gentleness, both today’s verse and this specific scene immediately came to mind! You see, it all goes back to the word meek. In the Greek, this word is praeis, the same word we see in Galatians 5:23 that we translate as gentle or gentleness. It means to be mild, to express power with care or in a reserved way. It’s the balance between gentleness and strength. And as with all the different godly character attributes that we collectively call the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness originates with God, but it has a divine origin in us. It is, like the rest of the fruit, a supernatural result of the work of the Spirit in us who makes us gentle as we grow in relationship with the very God whom all these attributes come from.
Interestingly, though, despite being listed among this amazing list of God’s character and nature, there are many both inside and outside the church who would attach a negative connotation to the term gentle or meek, almost thinking of it as weakness. Despite this, I can assure you that biblical meekness is the opposite of weakness. Rather, gentleness/meekness refers to exercising God’s strength under His control. It’s understanding and valuing power because you know that true power only comes from God, that apart from Him we can do nothing, and that He has been and continues to be gentle with us. And because you have this understanding, you cling to compassion rather than anger; you act—and react—as Christ did, without undue harshness, responding instead with kindness, sincerity, and love.
Gentleness also speaks of endurance—of being hurt but having the restraint to not seek vengeance. Why? Because you know God will vindicate you in the end. It’s constantly reminding yourself of Romans 12:19 (NIV) which says, “’It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Theologian Joseph Barnes emphasized that “Meekness . . . is neither meanness nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance.”
And above all, practicing gentleness produces peace. It’s proof of the soul’s reliance on God, of the mark the Spirit has made on our heart! It’s what happens when we come to Jesus and take His yoke upon us, because He is “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29 KJV). It comes from a heart that understands who God is and who you are in Him, so much so that you aren’t moved to anger or shaken by insults and persecution. It looks upon others—even those who seek to harm you—with compassion. That’s why the meek inherit the earth—the new earth, the inheritance of God’s children!
Pause: Read John 18:23, Acts 16:37, Matthew 11:29, and Romans 12:19. Can you think of a time when you’ve exercised gentleness or saw it in the actions of someone else? What was the result of it?
Practice: This week, as you interact with others, intentionally exercise gentleness, reliance on the Lord, and show the compassion of Christ.
Pray: Father, thank You for Your promise that the meek and gentle will inherit the earth, that those whom You have imbued with your divine character attributes through the Spirit as we devote our lives to knowing You and enjoying relationship with You will receive a reward for simply abiding in You and walking with You! What an incredible truth this is, Father. I pray that as I devote myself daily to relationship with You, that You would soften my heart, make me gentle, and that You would use me to show people who You are and draw to Your Son. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.