September 23, 2020
“Blessings on the little people, because they will be granted the earth!”
Matthew 5: 5, translation by Dr. F. Dale Bruner, professor emeritus at Whitworth University
The third Beatitude, traditionally translated, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” goes against much of contemporary culture. The world tells us to pay attention to those who are “big people:” billionaires, celebrities, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and those holding political offices.
Jesus’ third blessing would have caught his original listeners off-guard. They were not used to the powerless getting much of anything, much less the earth itself!
Several months ago, I heard a news story about the top ten private landowners in the United States. Each of these individuals own hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Ted Turner, founder of CNN, was number two on the list. The news story focused attention on these owners of huge swaths of land, for our world pays attention to such people. Yet Jesus is focused on those who seem to be overlooked and forgotten: the little people of the world.
As Dale Bruner, one of my college religion professors at Whitworth would put it: “First and literally the Beatitudes are Jesus' surprisingly countercultural God-bless-yous to people in God-awful situations.” In other words, this is about more than just having a gentle attitude. To quote Dr. Bruner once more, “These Beatitudes do not first of all describe people with good spiritualities so much as they describe people in bad situations.”
Although the term “meek” has lost much of its meaning in contemporary English usage, gentleness and humility certainly go along with the term.
Jesus had the ability to be powerful in the eyes of the world. Instead, He became the very definition of meekness, especially when we remember how he acted during His trial and then His crucifixion. As one observer put it, “There is a meekness which is almighty, and a gentleness that is strong.”
When the world encourages us to overlook the little people and the less fortunate, and instead pay more attention to “influencers”, let us remember this beatitude. The rich and famous may appear blessed in the eyes of the world, but this beatitude tells us differently. Those who are struggling with everyday life, who need help, and a hand up, food, clothing and such: those are the people that Jesus is blessing.
Facing adversity, we feel anything but blessed by our particular circumstances. We may almost feel discarded and hopeless. Yet it is at those times that Christ wants us to know that He is blessing us. When we are at our lowest moments, may we remember we are not there alone. At those moments, Christ is present, and is blessing us.
Help us to look beyond what and who the world admires. Instead, let us strive for what You admire. May we feel blessed by You, even when circumstances in our lives make us feel anything but blessed. Help us to be aware that You care deeply for those who are struggling with life daily. Show us how to daily bless others through Your example of humility. We pray this prayer in the name of the One who blessed the meek, Jesus Christ. Amen