By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist
The Bible says regarding one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known that the man Moses was the meekest of all the men on the earth. Two men who I esteem as among the finest men I have ever known also possessed that quality in amazing measure— my father, and my father-in-law, J. D. Nance.
Our society equates meekness with weakness. We think of meekness as sheepishness, a kind of “Mary’s little lamb” sort of thing. We know that Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.” But that’s every bit as hard for our world to believe as “Blessed are the poor.”
Can you imagine a large corporation giving classes in “meekness” training? No, it’s “assertiveness” training. We have, sadly enough, magazines named SELF; you’ll never find one on an adjoining shelf named, NO, YOU FIRST.
Meekness is a quality you can’t afford our society screams.
Meek people get run over.
Meek people are doormats.
Meek people never make it to the top — and, of course, our society never stops to ask if “the top” is always a good place to be.
But, as is so often the case, our society is wrong.
Real meekness is not at all weak. The kind of gentleness that J. D. and my father had— that kind of meekness—is filled with strength. Indeed, those lives prove to me that it is not only possible, it is a beautiful and winsome thing to be at the same time very gentle and very strong.
All of this was thrust back into view last week when J. D. suddenly passed away and it became my task to try to say something at his funeral that would even begin to do him the sort of honor he so deserved.
J. D. was a strong man, tremendously strong in all the ways that really matter, that really last. The Apostle Paul closes his letter to the Ephesians, “Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (6:10). And “in the Lord” is where J. D.’s strength lay.
J. D. was strong in Christ. And so he could be gentle. He had nothing to prove.
J. D. was strong in Christ. And so he could quietly trust in God. He had no reason to be loud.
J. D.’s strength was in the Lord. And so he had no reason to strive with man.
Anyone who thinks he fully understands Christ’s Sermon on the Mount doesn’t understand much. We probably only see dim glimmers of the beautiful reality Christ has in mind when he says that the meek will “inherit the earth.”
But I do know this: I would very much like to live in a world where God has put people like J. D. Nance and my father in charge, and where the meek rule by God’s power and blessing.
Yes, indeed, that’s a world in which I’d love to live, a world in which I plan to live.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at