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July 2nd, 2008 at 5:48 pm

The Fruit of Meekness

Dear Friend,

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness…

I have been accused of being many things in my life, but “meek” is not generally one of them.

Yet the more I learn about this character trait the more I desire that the Holy Spirit bear the fruit of meekness in my heart.

Why am I talking about “meekness” and not “gentleness”? Because the same Greek word prautes is translated into English as either “meekness” or “gentleness.” Though I think there is much to be said for gentleness as it is understood in English, and little good to be said for meekness as it is understood in English, “meekness,” properly understood, is the better translation.

Meekness connotes milk toast for many people, or weakness, and limp-wristed, self conscious lowliness. But none of these ideas gets us close to the meaning of meekness.

Rather than doing a bible study and citing many and various New Testament passages I am going to try to articulate what I think the word means, and why it is so significant as a Christian virtue, using only a few passages from the Psalms.

Meekness is that quality of believing in and trusting in God’s sovereignty, and allowing that belief and trust to impact how we act toward and respond to God amidst challenging life circumstances, and how we cat toward other people, particular people who have messed up or are not very nice to us.

The nature of Biblical meekness is perhaps best seen in some verses in Psalm 37:

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act (verse 5).

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart (verses 3 and 4).

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out devices! (verses 7 and 8).

Meekness is the quality or state of heart where we look to God to act, to vindicate, to protect and provide, and in so doing relinquish the “right” to do so ourselves. Meekness is that quality that strengthens us not to retaliate against others, not to be overwhelmed by anxiety in the midst of trouble, not to demand resolution to our problems now, and in our own specified way.

Meekness refuses to take shortcuts whereby we bypass God’s clearly expressed will in order to deal with enemies or circumstances that afflict us. “Trust in the Lord and do good” pretty much sums it up.

Meekness let’s God be God.

In my years as a pastor I have had cause to encourage the reading of Psalm 37 probably more than any other passage. When we are hurting we have almost an instinctive need to lash out, to take matters into our own hands, to demand better treatment, to retaliate against those who have wronged us.

Meekness is strength, not weakness. Meekness is disarming, and often creates unpredicted spaces in which God can act. Well, it’s not always disarming. Some people mistake meekness for weakness, and predators love nothing more than the smell of weakness. But meekness has the strength of steel, and most people have no idea what to do when actually facing it.

Meekness is humble and does not presume superiority, even over the fallen. Meekness does not look for opportunities to get even and does not exploit the sudden weakness of another’s position.

In this sense meekness is extremely respectful of the image of God in others, and steps back in restraint, content to let God make things right in His timing.

Meekness is quiet. It does not go on and on about perceived injustices. It doesn’t complain. It doesn’t grumble. It doesn’t get in a hyper anxious tizzy over the vagaries and uncertainties and insecurities of life. Meekness trusts, and waits, and while it is waiting it seeks to do and to be good.

In meekness is quiet strength, the strength of a person who knows who he is, and whose he is.

In meekness is the certainty that in Christ we have been forgiven of much more than we will ever have to forgive in others. In meekness we are so filled with gratitude to Jesus that He stepped in to save our skins that we have little desire or cause to demand our rights before others, or to bring them any harm.

In this sense the Biblical notion of meekness draws in the idea of the word gentleness, for meekness has a gentle spirit towards others, particularly towards others who would do harm, or who have fallen.

Meekness honors and respects others as creatures made in the image of God, and treats them with gentleness, trusting in God to work in them when and how he chooses.

When we have cause to revisit meekness in a few weeks I will speak to specific passages that have the word.

The Fruit of the Spirit is meekness.

In Christ,

Joel

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