What is meekness?

Continuing from Monday's discussion of meekness and salvation, I will now address the second question our commenter posed:

Does meekness mean we have to be gentle?

 Well, let's look at some verses on meekness:
  • Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man on earth.  However, it doesn't really tell us what made him meek, so this is marginally helpful.
  • Psalm 45 mentions someone who "rides out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness."  I find this interesting because meekness is not something we generally associate with victory, yet there is a clear connection between the two here.
  • Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5 both mention that the meek will inherit the earth, but still not actual definition of meekness.  This lets us know that meekness is a quality to be desired, but still doesn't entirely tell us what meekness is.
These other verses are a bit more helpful
  • 2 Corinthians 10:1 gives a description of Paul, who invokes the meekness and gentleness of Christ.  He lumps the two qualities together: meekness AND gentleness.  Also, he also launches into a discussion of humility, boldness, and confidence.  This discussion seems to indicate that all these qualities are related.
  • Colossians 3:12 gives a list of traits that the believer should develop: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.
Now I have to admit that my understanding of meekness is not purely based on these verses alone, but rather that my belief is consistent with these verses.

One cannot exhibit meekness without first coming from a place of strength.  I find Christ's example and also the example of God/ the King in Psalm 45 to be compelling in this area.  One must choose to become meek, but if a person is simply weak, he does not have the liberty to make that choice.  However, if someone who is strong chooses to become weak for the sake of another, I would then call that quality "meekness. "

Borrowing from the language of 2 Corinthians 10, when someone chooses to become weak, he does so because he is confident in himself and in God and makes this bold choice on the basis of 1) who he believes he is in God regardless of how others interact with him and 2) his heart for others.  In this way, Christ (who was himself God), Paul (who had direct revelation from Christ), and Moses (who spoke with God Himself) all exhibited meekness in their dealings with very stubborn and very sinful people.

Meekness is often coupled with gentleness because there really isn't any other way to be meek.  Meekness will necessarily express itself in a gentleness toward others.  Christ humbled himself and chose a position of weakness out of his heart for humanity and the lost.  He could have come to us in judgment, but he came to us in gentleness.  This is why Colossians 3:12 mentions the list that it does: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.  How can you have one without the other?  They are all in the same "family" of traits.  But, really, it can be said that they are also all manifestations of love.  That's why these three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.

The greatest commandment is to love God and love one another.  While obeying God's commandments are not a requirement for salvation, remember that those who love Jesus will obey his commands.  And as we grow in Christ, we will develop Christ-likeness.  No greater love is there than this: that he lay down his life for his friend.  In this, Christ is our example and our guide.  Just as Christ loved us and came to us in meekness and showed us gentleness, so also should we strive to love and meekly show gentleness toward others.