5 Spiritual Habits of the Blessed Meek

two ladies talking, blessed are the meek

5 Spiritual Habits of the Blessed Meek

To answer these questions, we need to consider what the phrase “blessed are the meek” means and what it takes to become meek.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5) may not be the best known Bible verse, but it’s pretty widely-known. Part of the reason it’s so well-known is the fact that when you get down to it, it confuses so many of us. Doesn’t meek mean being passive, letting others walk all over you? Doesn’t the Bible talk about being bold sometimes?

To answer these questions, we need to consider what the phrase “blessed are the meek” means and what it takes to become meek.

What Does 'Blessed Are the Meek Mean'?

The word “meek” has been misread as meaning passivity. However, remember that the New Testament (in fact the whole Bible) was written in foreign languages. Translating words from one language to another can result in some of the original word’s context getting lost in the shuffle.

In this case, the word “meek” is from an ancient Greek word transliterated into English as “praus,” connected to another Greek word, “prautes.” Ancient Greeks reportedly used both words to talk about trained animals (such as watchdogs that know when to attack and when to be still). Aristotle used “prautes” in Nicomachean Ethics to talk about gentleness (sometimes translated as meekness). He described gentleness/meekness as the right way to behave, the halfway point between a short temper and not being angry at something which should outrage you. Some scholars (such as Spiro Zodhiates in The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament) have used Aristotle’s description of gentleness/meekness to argue that meekness is about power under control.

The big difference between Aristotle’s idea of meekness and the Bible’s idea of meekness is that the Bible affirms that people must rely on God to live out this behavior. In his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Henry writes“The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else.”

Note that Henry says the meek must “submit to God.” Meekness involves relying on God to reign in angry impulses. Meek people could lash out, but instead, they choose to be gentle until it’s necessary to be bold and fight.

We see this attitude in Moses, who Numbers 12:3 describes as “a very humble man, more gentle than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Despite this, Moses didn’t have a problem with rebuking the Israelites when they were being rebellious.

We also see this attitude in Mathew 21:4-5, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. Mathew describes’ Jesus arrival riding on a donkey as a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Matthew used “praus” for “lowly” when he quoted the Zechariah 9:9 passage. So in the New Testament, this passage reads as Jesus being “meek and riding on a donkey.”

However, not long after his meek arrival in Jerusalem, meek Jesus went to into the temple and started overturning tables and driving people out. He knew when to be bold and make a stand, even a dramatic statement that will shock people. He also knew when to be gentle and keep his power under control.

Why Does God Value the Meek?

As noted above, meekness in a Christian context means to reign in anger and only act on it at the right time. This is a difficult task, but it shows love toward other people. To be gentle and merciful shows people that they have inherent value, which comes from the God that created them.

Being meek also means being willing to trust God knows what he is doing. The phrase “they shall inherit the earth” seems to be Jesus quoting Psalm 37, where the Psalmist tells readers “do not fret when people succeed in their ways when they carry out their wicked schemes,” (37:7). The Psalmist explains that reacting in anger is not appropriate, because a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity” (Psa. 37:10-11).

Ultimately then, the promise that the meek will inherit the earth is a reminder that those who follow God will prosper. This may mean prospering in the here and now, with blessings of various kinds. It may mean living in hope that in the final days, all evil will be taken care of. Just as those who mourn will be comforted and those who hunger for righteousness will be filled, so the meek, of all people, will inherit the earth.

What Are Characteristics of a Meek Person?

Since the Bible’s idea of meekness doesn’t fit our own, we need to consider what makes a person meek by Biblical standards. Here are six traits that are:

Humility: the meek person recognizes that all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and is reliant on God’s grace, and therefore knows not to feel entitled.

Patience: the meek person knows that patience is better than pride (Ecclesiastes 7:8) and bears harsh circumstances and insults.

Gentleness: the meek person treats other people with love, even when those people don’t deserve it.

Boldness: the meek person knows there are times to speak out against wrong behavior, and willingly does so when those times come.

Wisdom: the meek person learns that there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), and therefore when to be bold and when to be gentle.

Trust: the meek person holds onto the fact that vengeance is the Lord’s (Romans 12:17-19), and he will work all things together for the good of people those who love God (Romans 8:28).

What Are Some Habits to Develop Meekness?

It’s easy to say we should patient and yet bold and have all these other traits, but that doesn’t answer how we develop those traits. Here are habits we can each develop to make us meek:

Seek God first: we cannot accomplish this mix of gentleness and boldness under control, or the wisdom to know which attitude we should have, without God’s help. We must learn to rely on him day by day, seeking his will rather than our own.

Cultivate courage: meekness means not only that we must learn to be gentle, but also to be bold when the time comes. That means we must learn to make a stand when the time comes, even if it’s hard and (perhaps especially) if making a stand will shock people.

Recognize your reliance on God: we can easily to swayed into taking offense at people who insult us or at circumstances that seem unfair until we remember that we are also sinners and that our salvation was a gift. We do not deserve to be treated well. On the basis of our works, we deserve only death and damnation.

See how God sees people: we will not really be able to be gentle to those who insult us or dislike us until we recognize that they are also created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made in his image. As we learn to see people in that context, we can learn to love them, even if we have no outward reasons to do so.

View things in God’s timeline: being meek will seem like a bizarre thing if we’re only thinking in terms of the here and now. As Christians though, we rest in the knowledge that God works things together for the good of those that love him, and that his plans are better than our own. We must have a “long view” of time, looking for God’s will and what will have eternal value, rather than what seems right now to be the best option.

Notice that many of these habits are connected to other ideas Jesus mentions in the Beatitudes. Recognizing our reliance on God is realizing that we are “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3), or as the NLT Bible puts it, being poor and realizing our need for God. Seeing people as God sees people requires us to be merciful (Matthew 5:7) and work for peace (Matthew 5:9).

Not only that, but these habits are not ones that we can do on our own. We might start by just trying to put on a new attitude like “see the best in people,” but in the end, these are not habits we can do in our own strength. We will need to seek God’s strength, which begins by doing the basic elements of the Christian life: pray regularly, read and study the Bible, and become involved in a Christian community that will teach us how to follow God.

Further Reading

Who are the Meek? Why did Jesus say "Blessed are the Meek"?

What Does Jesus Mean by "Blessed Are the Meek" in Matthew 5:5?

Why Does Scripture Say "Blessed are the Meek, for They Will Inherit the Earth"?

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/nortonrsx

Connor SalterG. Connor is a freelance writer and journalist, with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing from Taylor University. He has contributed over 600 articles to various publications, including interviews for Christian Communicator and book reviews for The Evangelical Church Library Association. Find out more about his work here.


This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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