The Beatitudes: link back to summary
The Third Beatitude:
Matthew 5:5 - Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Article five of eleven part series:
by Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman
Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.
This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.
Explain that architects use machines and levers to help them build their designs. Suggest simple tools like scissors, tweezers, or nutcrackers as examples of levers that make work easier. Have the students do an experiment to discover the advantage created by the proper location of a fulcrum. Organize the class into groups of four or less students. Give each group a hardcover book, two unsharpened pencils and scotch tape. Instruct each group to tape one pencil on the table to be the fulcrum and use the other pencil as a lever to lift the book. Have all the groups experience placing the fulcrum at three different locations -- toward the front of the pencil-lever, toward the middle, and toward the end -- to better understand the idea of mechanical advantage. Explain that the idea of “meekness” is like finding the proper balance of faith that gives us an advantage over life’s difficulties. If we place our faith in God, we will discover the blessing or “advantage” of a fulcrum for all of our actions in life.
Look around the church property or in the local neighborhood for an area that could benefit from a “green space” design. Explain to participants that architects try to “soften” the lines and textures of buildings and roadways by adding in designs that include plants, grasses, and trees. If possible, design and install materials that would create a landscape effect and bring a natural gentleness to a building or roadway. Connect the idea of “softening” a construction design with the concept of “meekness.” Discuss the ways in which God’s presence serves to make us more gentle in our dealings with other people.
Distribute modeling clay to the participants and ask them to work the clay in their hands until it is warm and pliable. As they are working the clay discuss the Beatitude and the meaning of the word “meek.” Once the clay has become soft, then connect the idea of meekness to the readiness of the clay to be sculpted. Explain that to be meek for a Christian means that he or she is pliable in God’s hands.
Stencil the phrase “Meek NOT Weak!” on a plain doormat and place the message at a frequently used entrance. Discuss the difference between choosing to be a servant like Christ and being a “doormat.”
Create a cloth chain to connect the Beatitudes studied so far. Cut eighteen-inch strips of plain, solid-colored cloth, one for each of the Beatitudes. Have the students print the message of each of the first three Beatitudes on three strips of cloth. Explain that Jesus’ teachings are not to be seen as individual messages, but are to be linked together as the overall guide for the Christian life. Connect the links of cloth to begin a “Beatitude Chain,” and add strips as each verse is studied.
Purchase or design simple “sewing cards” of Biblical stories or of nature scenes. Provide yarn for the participants to complete the pattern by “sewing” through the design. Once complete, the cards should have a stitched design on one side. Have the participants turn the cards over to observe the back of the design. Explain that living out the third Beatitude may appear “inside out” to others. Living a life that is gentle and humble before God may not be a pattern others understand, but it is the way we create a life that is beautiful to God.
Discuss the word “meekness” with the students and explain that the Christian understanding behind this Beatitude is that the word challenges us to be open minded, to recognize that we have much to learn from God and from each other. Tell the participants that they will receive “open-ended” statements to start their thinking. They should complete the statements with their own ideas and then share their writing with one another. Remind them to keep an open mind and to recognize that we can learn from each others’ understandings. Use open-ended statements such as: "Meekness is …", "Humility means …", and "Jesus says we’ll be blessed when …".
Invite the participants to use their creative writing ability to help others learn more about the misunderstood idea of “meekness.” Explain that they are going to do some research in the Bible to discover other passages that will help Christians understand what it means to be blessed by being meek. Have groups or individuals look up verses such as Numbers 12:3, Psalm 22:26, Psalm 76:9, Isaiah 11:4, Isaiah 29:19, and Zephaniah 2:3. Then ask them to write an explanation of how this scripture connects to the third Beatitude. Encourage the use of Bible helps or have writers interview congregational members to arrive at their explanations. Publish the written connections in the newsletter or post them on a bulletin board.
Gather unusual taste treats -- or take a field trip to a restaurant or a farmer’s market -- and provide the opportunity for the participants to try something new. Connect their experience with new tastes to the Beatitude’s challenge to remain open to new experiences, not closed off and self-satisfied. Remind the tasters that we may not relish everything we try, but we will at least have been open to the possibility and willing to explore new experiences. Explain that the meek are God’s open-minded followers who don’t have to know it all and who are open to God’s leading in their lives.
Hold a “secret center” tasting party. Provide -- or invite the participants to bring -- treats with a surprise hidden inside such as Combos, Tootsie Pops, or Twinkies. Once the treats have been gathered, display the possibilities and share in the snacks. Offer the connection that the third Beatitude Jesus gave us challenges us to make a difference on the inside. Talk about what the filling called “meekness” is all about.
Choose a favorite music piece and invite the participants to choreograph movement to represent Christ’s call to meekness. Read Matthew 11:28-30 as preparation for the dance. Explain that those who are meek are willing to be yoked with God so that God can guide and direct their lives. Ask the dancers to use scarves or long pieces of cloth as a part of their choreography to symbolize being yoked to God.
Portray the flexible nature of river reeds that bend and move in the wind instead of breaking. Explain that being meek means being gentle and flexible so that life doesn’t bend us out of shape.
Dramatize the idea of the “Happy Medium” by first representing extreme ideas of happiness. One actor or group should pantomime or improvise those who think happiness is found by being a spendthrift. The other extreme should represent the miser. The third person or group should enact the “Happy Medium” of the enjoyment of generosity. Consider writing an epilogue that connects those that are meek with those who find life’s “happy medium.”
Re-enact the New Testament story of the life and martyrdom of Stephen, Acts 6:1–7:60, whose life of humility and meekness serve as a model of the third Beatitude. In response to his story, discuss the importance of forgiveness in the life of those who live Christ’s command.
Play a game of Red Rover, but begin by discussing rules for the game that everyone can follow so as not to hurt one another. Determine what should and what should not be allowed in breaking through the line. Explain that in playing Red Rover the participants are challenged to be strong, but fair. Connect the idea to the concept of being meek; we can be forceful in pursuing the tasks God gives us, but we must be mindful not to use our power to hurt other people.
Visit a playground to experience the ups and downs of a see saw. Challenge the participants to try to balance their weight on the see saw. Discuss the words of Christ in the third Beatitude in relation to the ups and downs of life. Explain that God can help us find the balance, or meekness. Point out that we must be mindful of others if we are to be meek, just like we must be careful when we exit the see saw so that the other person does not get hurt.
Provide the participants with the opportunity to create harmony by cooperating together to use bells or glasses filled with water to make music. Explain that to follow the third Beatitude is to strive for harmony in our own lives and in our relationships with others.
Sing the hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” as a prayer. Before singing, read and discuss the words in relation to the third Beatitude. Make the point that Jesus challenges every Christian to live a life that is meek, a life that is surrendered to God for use in God’s service.
Go on a photo scavenger hunt. Provide digital or instant cameras and ask the participants to take pictures of anything they can find that symbolizes “control.” Brainstorm a few possible objects to photograph like a car’s steering wheel, the oven knobs, or a dog leash. Set a time limit and/or a picture limit for gathering the images of control. After printing the pictures, make a display and discuss the connection to the third Beatitude. Ask the group to consider how Jesus would expect the lives of the meek to be controlled.
Show the film Gandhi and discuss the qualities of meekness in Gandhi’s life. As well, discuss the impact of the film’s photography and how the images helped communicate the essence of Gandhi’s life.
Make a Moses puppet to tell the story of Moses being called by God. Depict the change in Moses from a quiet shepherd minding his own sheep to a forceful leader able to stand up even to Pharaoh. Title the story, “Moses the Meek.” After telling the puppet story, discuss how Moses’ meekness allowed God to be able to use him.
Write a puppet script featuring a “meek” puppet that learns that Jesus said, “The meek will inherit the earth.” Develop the script around the change that occurs in this puppet as he or she begins to demand the inheritance now, even trying to organize the meek into a lobbying group. Have other puppets try to explain that Jesus wasn’t talking about actually being given the land, but instead really experiencing life here on earth with greater joy and peace.
Find a biography of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Using pictures, re-tell the story of her life and her mission for God. Connect her life story to the meaning of the third Beatitude.
Read an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Discuss the understanding of meekness that Dr. King represented. Point out the importance of resisting things that are wrong, of being angry for the right reasons, and of acting with strength to change injustice.