The second and third beatitudes address those who mourn and those who are meek. Like the “poor in spirit,” those who mourn and the meek are declared by Jesus to be blessed (or happy). And just as being poor in spirit seems to be a negative virtue at first glance, so too do the virtues of mourning and meekness. When I am mourning, the last thing that I would consider myself to be is blessed. And when I see the word meek, it brings to mind a lamb or a person who is weak in character and physically weak, as well. So, why does Jesus say that those who mourn and those who are meek are blessed?
When we use the word “mourn,” it is generally to refer to the act of grieving over a loss, usually the loss of a loved one. We mourn because we are filled with a deep sadness, a sorrow that goes deep into our hearts. But, in Matthew 5:4, the Greek word translated as “mourn” in Matthew 5:4 is pentheō, which refers to a different type of mourning altogether. It is the sorrow felt for sin, but not just our own sins. It is a sorrow like that felt by Lot over the lawless deeds of Sodom and Gomorrah, a sorrow that tormented his soul (2 Peter 2:8).
As Lot mourned over the immorality and the wickedness that he observed, we should also mourn over the immorality and wickedness we see in our country and in our world today. We should mourn over the things that we know grieve the heart of God (Genesis 6:6). When we mourn over these things, we are blessed. And, because our heavenly Father is a God of comfort, in our mourning we will receive His comfort.
In Matthew 5:5, Jesus declares that the meek are also blessed. While the world (and some of us, as well) may look at meekness as weakness and not a virtue to be desired, God has a completely different opinion of it. The Greek work translated as “meek” in this verse is praus. This word suggests an attitude of submission to God’s will and purpose. Viewed in that context, meekness is far from weakness. Rather, it is a virtue that requires an inner strength.
The word praus is only used three times in the New Testament, the first time being in this beatitude. The second use of the word is in Matthew 21:5, where it is used to refer to Jesus as “meek” as He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The third time that this word appears is in 1 Peter 3:4, where it is used in commending the person who possesses a gentle (meek) and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s eyes. So, if meekness is not only a virtue which pleases God, but is also a virtue that Jesus possesses, it is truly a virtue to be desired. When we are meek, not only are we blessed, but we also will inherit the earth.