The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

God

“Glances of true beauty can be seen in the faces of those who live in true meekness.”
Henry David Thoreau

Lately I’ve been spending time reading and studying the Beatitudes, and as a result I’ve been contemplating the character quality of meekness. Of all the traits described in the Beatitudes, I find meekness the most difficult to view in a positive light, largely because what first comes to mind when I think of meekness is a bland, colorless, Elsie Dinsmore type individual or a person who sits passively by and watches while injustice takes place.

Of course, from a Scriptural perspective I knew these weren’t examples of true meekness, so I set myself to disengage with the cultural views of the matter and connect with God’s views, immersing myself in verses about how God esteems and blesses meekness…and what it truly looks like.

And because I often think of things in terms of story, I began to consider the general lack of meek characters cast in heroic roles in fantasy. Not many came to mind, but the ones that did leapt from the pages of Lord of the Rings. There we have Samwise Gamgee, a hobbit who served in humility, never pushing himself to the forefront, never demanding praise or attention, and always ready to others first–yet bold and courageous when defending those he loved. Without him, the whole of Middle Earth would have fallen under Sauron’s sway.

Then we have Aragorn, who displayed a different sort of meekness, in that he served in obscurity for many years, never demanding or expecting credit for his actions. Even when the opportunity came for him to take up his rightful mantle as king, he acted in deference, refusing to lord it over the people he would rule. He wielded great power and authority in a humble and unassuming way–and it’s one of the things that made his character so compelling.

Though meek characters don’t abound in fiction, stories gain depth when they include individuals displaying true, Biblical meekness. Such characters are beautiful in literature, and even more beautiful in life, and they provide reminders of the worth of cultivating meekness in our own hearts, a quality that God greatly esteems.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on meekness in life, literature, or both!

Comments

  • Kessie
    January 15, 2012 - 12:17 am · Reply

    Oh! My favorite way to portray meekness is to have a character who is very powerful–like a dragon–be gentle to a more helpless character. It’s the powerful character’s meekness that makes them likeable. Kind of like stories about friendly giants.

    At one point I had a series of stories about a killer assassin robot who adopts a small, helpless creature more or less against his will. And as he learns to care for her, he learns to be gentle and how to rein in his own destructive programming. I thought it made him a much more interesting character (especially when he could still turn around and kill people if they threatened him or his creature).

    Meekness is “power under control”, right?

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 16, 2012 - 1:23 pm · Reply

      It’s the powerful character’s meekness that makes them likeable.

      Great insight, Kessie! This does make such a difference. When you mentioned friendly giants, it reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s story The Selfish Giant. When he learns meekness and kindness, his dormant garden comes back to life. And when he reaches the end of his life, it’s implied that the little boy that first moved his heart to stoop down and demonstrate kindness was Jesus who now waits to welcome him into the garden of heaven. It’s a sweet story.

      Your stories about the assassin robot who learns meekness sounds fascinating. Are they published somewhere?

      I agree that meekness is power under control. If the person in question has no power, then they’re not acting in meekness by not exercising power, they simply lack it. It’s the choice to act in gentleness and humility when you do have power or authority (or could attempt to take it) in a situation that demonstrates meekness.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts–they added a lot. 🙂

      • Kessie
        January 16, 2012 - 8:43 pm · Reply

        Heh, yeah, my stories are Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction, and they’re posted on fanfiction.net in all their unedited glory. I’m busy working on a bunch of original work that’s not published, though, but I learned a lot of lessons over in the fanfic side of things.

        • Sarah Sawyer
          January 20, 2012 - 4:52 pm · Reply

          I’m not very familiar with fanfiction, but I’ve heard several people say writing fanfiction hooked them on storytelling and resulted in them writing novels of their own.

          It seems to me like the learning process never really stops, and that’s actually one of the things I love about writing. I wish you the best of success in your publishing journey and hope to one day see your books hit the shelves!

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