What does it mean to be meek?

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Me standing next to a redwood. Redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world. During their thousand-year lifespan, they can survive forest fires, pestilence, and lightning strikes.
Meekness is more than self-restraint; it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness, reflecting certitude, strength, serenity, and a healthy self-esteem and self-control. – Neil A. Maxwell

Meekness has some pretty important promises associated with it. The first that comes to my mind is while Christ is giving the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:5 He says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth.” It is not the only promised blessing that the scriptures gives us, but is is perhaps the most visually striking. Have you ever taken the time to think about such a bold statement? Is He being literal or figurative when He says that? The Earth would make quite an inheritance so this is something that would be in our best interest to find out.

There are no definitive answers about whether or not Christ was speaking figuratively or literally. However, if we look at the general tone of this Sermon, we find His method is to speak very frankly and teach for understanding.* Meanings in the sermon are not hidden behind parables or analogies, it is quite the opposite. He usually makes a direct statement, and then often, he will use analogy to further clarify his meaning. If we assume Christ is frank about the consequences of meekness, then we conclude the meek literally inherit the Earth.

Having established what we get if we are meek, we now need to find out what it means to be meek. In our day, it seems to be associated with weakness, and cowering. However, the opposite is more close to the truth.

The Greek word from which our translation comes is πραῢϛ (praus) which is associated with kindness, gentleness, and being forgiving. Often people associate kindness with weakness but if someone has harmed you, it takes real strength to forgive and treat the offender with kindness. It can take self-control and patience.

Another good insight into meekness is found in the teachings of Harold B Lee.

A meek man is defined as one who is not easily provoked or irritated and forbearing under injury or annoyance. Meekness is not synonymous with weakness. The meek man is the strong, the mighty, the man of complete self-mastery . . . He is a natural leader and is the chosen of army and navy, business and church to lead where other men follow. He is the “salt” of the earth and shall inherit it.

This dispels all notions that the small and powerless are the meek. In fact, they cannot be. How can one have self-mastery if one is weak? How can someone lead others without the power to persuade others to follow? Have you ever known someone who is powerful but that you trust completely? You know they would never abuse the power they have? You could your life in their hands and know they would care for it as if it were their own? This is someone who has the Christlike attribute of meekness.

Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet tells us that meekness goes beyond itself. It is a vital part of the recipe for other Christlike attributes. Moroni 7:43-44 says, “And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart. If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

I would like to end with this thought from Neil A. Maxwell who was an apostle and prophet of the 20th century:

God’s refusal to conform mankind by His sheer power reflects not only the gentleness of our Father in Heaven but also His desires to preserve our free agency. Just as agency is essential to perfectibility, so meekness is essential to agency.

We should all prayerfully seek to develop a high degree of meekness. Not only will it make us better leaders, more patient, and more forgiving, but it is also a vital part of agency which is a vital part of being human.


* Jesus does not always teach in the simplest way possible. Some of His parables were the result of intentionally hiding the true meaning. Luke 8:10 says, “And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others, in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”

One Response

  1. Fonda
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    Nice post. I like the idea of being meek, yet powerful.

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