The Beautiful Attitude of Humility

   Written by on June 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

logo-crotts-stephen“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”–Matthew 5:5

The way of God’s kingdom is opposite our modern way. We say, “Blessed are the self-righteous, those who don’t lean on God, those who have it all together.” Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who realize their absolute spiritual poverty.”

We say, “Blessed are those who laugh it up, who party down, who don’t care, who won’t be bothered.” Jesus says, “Happy are the unhappy, who let God break their hearts with what breaks his.”

The world says, “Blessed are the tough, overbearing intimidators who know how to get their way, the arrogant, the proud.” Christ intones, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Of all Jesus’ beatitudes this one is the most antithetical, the most absurd, the hardest to swallow. “Aw, come on, Jesus! The wimps shall inherit the earth? Me be a doormat? Me let people ride roughshod over me? You’ve got to be kidding! What is this? Some sort of invitation to become a weakling, to be ignored?”

Years ago I was digging in my garden and accumulated a wheelbarrow full of extra dirt. “What am I going to do with all this earth?” I wondered. My child said, “Dad, why don’t we give to the meek?”

We’ve more in common with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who on a 1950′s visit to a French cathedral said, “There is much in Christ that is in common with us communists, but I cannot agree with him when he says, ‘When you are hit on the right cheek, turn the left cheek.’ I believe in another principle. If I am hit on the left cheek I hit back on the right cheek so hard the head might fall off!” To which we all say a hearty “Amen!”

What It Means

“Blessed are the meek.” The original Greek word for meek is praus. It translates as gentle, humble, considerate and courteous.

Meekness does not mean weak-willed, wimpy or devoid of courage. Rather, it means self-controlled. In Canada they have huge Clydesdale horses which can be hitched up to pull great logs out of the forest for timber companies. These horses are so strong yet so gentle that little children can crawl all over them and play about their hooves without injury. This is a picture of meekness, of tamed strength. It is mayhem and manners in perfect control.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus described himself as “gentle and lowly in heart.” It is the same word: praus. God in human flesh: tamed strength able to heal blindness, coddle little children, raise the dead, wear a crown of thorns, feed 5,000, hang upon a cross, yet slay the wicked with the breath of his mouth.

In 2 Corinthians 10:1 the apostle Paul refers to both Jesus and himself as meek. You will understand that the Corinthian church was a mess. They didn’t respect their elders. The authority of Scripture was rejected. Anarchy reigned supreme. So Paul visited them. But he came meekly. He wrote, “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you–I, Paul who am timid when face to face with you, but bold when away.”

So, the best understood translation of the third beatitude? “O the blessedness, O the happy fulfillment of the gentle, the humble, the considerate, the courteous! O the blessed meek, those of tamed strength, they shall inherit the earth.”

The question arises, how does one develop this attitude in his life? I mean, humility is a hard quality! As soon as you say you’ve got it, you’ve lost it. “Don’t you people understand just what an all-around good fellow of absolute humility I am?” “Perhaps you’ve read my book, Humility and How I Attained It, $39.95 at your local bookstore.” “Last year the deacons gave me the humility award badge but they had to take it back because I kept wearing it.” See what I mean?

How does humility come? Just bow your head and grunt prayerfully, “I will be humble. I will be humble. I will be humble!”?

Look at the logical progression of the beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” A disciple’s relationship with God begins by recognizing lam bankrupt morally and spiritually. I am totally dependent upon God’s mercy.

The second attitude is mourning. I am spiritually impoverished and I care. I cry over it. I can feel God’s hurt over this writhing, sinful world.

Third comes meekness. Because of my poverty and grief, I’ve no room for pride, for arrogance and a sense of having arrived.

So how do I become humble? First, I gain a true estimate of who God is. Then, second, I gain a true estimate of who I am by comparison. When I do that I don’t have any trouble being humble.

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at

About Stephen Crotts

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at


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