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The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Love (Part 8. Love's Aspect - Meekness)
Although this article is part of a series, it is a Complete study on its own. (8 of 9 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
Love's Aspect - Meekness
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like, of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past that they which do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance: against such there is no law.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affection and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5:19-25)
In the movie version of the Wizard of Oz (accompanied by powerful visual effects) the Wizard says, "I am Oz, the great and powerful. Who are you?"
If you are like me, you saw this as a child, so the billowing smoke and terrible flames may have been a bit terrifying. You may have felt, as I did, that you were among the friends standing there petitioning a wizard for what seemed the impossible. Really, who can grant a heart, courage and a thinking mind? When I close my eyes I can say the words that Dorothy, the farm girl from Kansas said, as she stepped forward to speak for the group. You know how it goes, preceded with a tiny curtsy she introduced herself,
"I - if you please, I - I am Dorothy, the small and meek."
I think most in the audience took her to mean that she was basically harmless, an innocent young girl, weak and certainly no threat (and, oh yes, please don't hurt me). We all saw the implication was that she was afraid. While the others fell all over themselves, terror was etched on her face as well. She was conveying that she was timidly seeking a favor, not there to fight or even prepared should one occur. One might even psychologically relate the experience to all her deepset fears, and she, present before them, was barely able to utter the words of what she wished done for her.
I relive this wonderful childhood memory to point out that I never would have attributed to the word "meek," anything but what that little girl was displaying for me in that movie. I have watched it easily a hundred times since my youth and each time the movie has said the same thing to me. A meek person, I had concluded, would not be the one I would want standing for me in a fight. That person would not be the one I would pick to speak for me in an argument nor someone I would want my child to emulate. After all, I don't want any child of mine being a doormat, a pushover, a weakling, not commanding any respect. Yet I would be wrong should I make that assessment of meekness.
I keep a dictionary for spelling checks mostly and some pronunciation verification but I don't trust dictionaries for meanings as a rule. You want to know what my "American Heritage Dictionary" says under the word meek? It says that meek is "humble, easily imposed upon, submissive, spineless, soft."
That is the basic understanding of the meaning until one looks at the word here in Scripture. Though meekness does mean gentleness, it does not mean weakness. And even though it does mean humility, it does not mean fearful or cowering with eyes lowered.
The Greek word praotes (prah-ot'-ace) means a quiet strength that originates from God. The literal meaning of meek is humble and its understood definition relates back to the Hebrew word anayv (aw-nawv') and its root anah (aw-naw') which means to deal hard with yourself. The idea is that you have humbled yourself before God and have acquired discipline and strength from the process. Included in this is the eyes cast down but not in spineless fear. It is the idea that reverence for a Holy God and standing in His presence, leads to identifying sin and confessing it. This is what causes the downcast look and introspection. This creates a strength within that commands the respect of all. In other words, a meek person is the person that you would want to stand up with you in a fight. He is the person that would be able to fearlessly articulate in an argument, and not using backbiting, shouting or clamor but with calmness, serenity and decisiveness.
What Is Meekness?
The Bible says Jesus was meek so therefore we get paintings, drawings, and etchings that depict Him as emaciated, skinny, wimpy, with eyes that look like He's always ready to cry. It is true that He was tested and tried more than any man. It is also true that at the thought of the sin of the world pressing down upon Him, and the knowledge of every person who will not receive Him as Savior, would bring Him to tears and beyond. But there are things about Him that people forget or do not take into account. First, Jesus was the Son of God and a son in the household of Joseph the carpenter. A carpenter in those days did much more than work with wood. Sure He would have sawn down trees, made planks, hauled on logs, and hammered nails but he also worked in stone. He would have had strong muscular arms and hands and a very strong upper body. His back and legs too would reflect the heavy lifting and carrying of stone and large quantities of wood for construction. Jesus physically was no wimp but a "blue collar" man's man. Also, there was no one born of earth having such a keen mind as Jesus (He is omniscient). Knowledge helps overcome fear as does love (which casts out fear). Jesus is God and thus Jesus is love. These two facts show that the Son of God was not a coward or fearful, Jesus was meek.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 21:5)
You find rest for your souls because Jesus carries the load for you. In His strength we find rest. Meekness is fearlessness as evidenced by the life of Jesus. Meekness stands in the face of opposition. Jesus set the example for us when facing these type of things.
"Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously." (1 Peter 2:23)
Reflecting on the cross, there was a lot to fear as Jesus' time for crucifixion neared. It had been written in Isaiah and in Psalms what the cross would feel like as He was nailed to hang between heaven and earth. He would say "I thirst" because His tongue would "stick to [His] jaws." People would wag the head and taunt Him. He would be naked and all would see His body. They would rip off His beard and along with it most of His face. "He was marred more than any man." Yes, there was much to fear and there was a moment when He spoke to His father and essentially said, "The knowledge of this pain scares Me, but I will do as You say to do." He said, "Let this cup pass from Me, yet not my will but Thine." It is not cowardly to acknowledge fear and then face it.
The Master taught this very principle of meekness when He said,
"And unto him that smiteth thee on one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also." (Luke 6:29)
Jesus is not advocating that we allow ourselves to be abused. He is telling us that we are not to cower in the face of the severest form of persecution. When we are not in a position to defend ourselves, we are to look the enemy in the eye, take his abuse, and love him despite it. Meekness allows this to happen.
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" (Matthew 5:43-46)
Meekness causes an atmosphere conducive to teaching, letting others who are not spiritual see spiritual things. When one displays meekness, it gives substance to spiritual matters. It illustrates the eternal to those who otherwise would never be able to understand.
"In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth." (2 Timothy 2:25)
Meekness is also essential in a Christian's life so that he will be able to hear the Word and learn. In meekness, is a quiet, teachable spirit, one that is eager to absorb truth for the sake of God's glory.
"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21)
Meekness is a facet of love, which is the fruit of the Spirit of God. God says that cultivating the fruit of the Spirit is how we will live a victorious Christian life. Are you one of those people who must always say what's on your mind? Do you have trouble holding your tongue when your "rights" are threatened? Perhaps God is working in your life to strengthen meekness. Perhaps He's saying to you "Trust Me, I will handle this. Be quiet and reflect Jesus to those who would threaten you. Be strong in the face of danger. Communicate to all Who it is that empowers you."
This idea of meekness- is it new to you? I know that it goes contrary to the popular folk hero types that shoot now and when the smoke clears then sorts it out. Yet meekness is what God says is necessary to living a Godly, Spirit-filled life.
Maybe, you haven't really given much thought as to the spiritual nature of your life and you have been concentrating on mere survival. When survival is not in your mind, perhaps you have been trying to squeeze out all the happiness you can in the moments of time you have on days off and on vacations. It is possible that you've given no time to consider a God that is desperate to know you on personal basis? Yes, I said a personal basis. The Bible says that Jesus "stands at the door and knocks. If anyone hears and opens the door, He will come into him and sup with Him." Jesus stands at the door of your heart and with every opportunity He can, He knocks on the door of your life. He reaches into your heart with deaths that happen around you and births, with poverty and wealth, with sickness and health. He makes Himself present in the back of your mind and whispers, "I'm here. Let Me in before it is too late."
It's quite simple to let Him in. All it takes is a cry to God in faith and He will hear and He will come into your life and change you and your life for the better. You may say, "I believe in God." Okay, well the kind of belief I'm speaking of, is the kind that is more than knowing that somewhere, someplace there is a God. The kind of belief is the kind where you honestly believe that Jesus is God in human flesh and that at one point in history, He came to earth with the expressed purpose of dying for your sins. If you believe this you are halfway there. You must also believe that Jesus died and then rose from the dead like the Scriptures say. Along with this all a person must acknowledge is that he is a sinner in need of a Savior. If you believe these things you can ask Jesus into your life to save you. If you believe these things pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I know that without You I will go to hell. I know my sin separates me from God and I now turn from my sin and the way I've lived my life and turn to You as the only way of salvation. I believe that you came to earth, died on a cross and rose the third day. Please forgive me of my sin and save me and I promise to follow You all the days of my life. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: