The Fruit of the Spirit is Meekness
Bernard Osborne, Dinas Powys, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
This has been defined by TRENCH and VINE as ‘an inwrought grace of the mind’ (TRENCH - ‘soul’). It is translated ‘gentleness’ by RSV and NEB. It has connotations of goodness and generosity. It is submissiveness of spirit. It is strength under control, power kept in rein. The Greeks did not hold meekness highly. It is not a quality pursued eagerly in today’s world where selfassertiveness is thought to bring preferment and success, and meekness is considered weakness. It does not, however, mean weakness, or spinelessness. Moses was the meekest man on earth, the supreme example of meekness in the Old Testament, Num. 12. 3, but he was no weakling. He led two million peole for nearly forty years in the wilderness, a people who constantly murmured and complained, during which time he fought wars, introduced the Law, instituted the Levitical system of worship and moulded a multitude of slaves into a nation. Meekness is the fruit of power. The Lord Jesus said that He was meek, Matt. 11. 29, and He had the infinite resources of God at His command.
Often a word can be better understood by its contrast. Meekness is contrasted with self-assertiveness and pride, Isa. 29. 19-21. As pride is the chief sin of man by nature, meekness is the chief grace of man in the Spirit. The psalmist contrasts the meek with the wicked, Pss. 37. 10, 11; 147.6. Another way of looking at a word is to consider the words with which it is associated. Meekness is associated with love, 1 Cor. 4.21. Paul speaks of the ‘meekness and gentleness’ of the Lord Jesus, 2 Cor. 10. 1. The Lord Jesus said He was ‘meek and lowly in heart’, Matt. 11. 29, and this is further stated in a quotation from the Old Testament, Zech. 9. 9; Matt. 21. 5. In the new garments of ‘the elect of God’ meekness is associated with ‘humility of mind’, Col. 3. 12. In seeking to walk worthy of the vocation by which he is called the believer is to exercise ‘lowliness and meekness’, Eph. 4. 2.
For the meek there are benefits. They shall inherit the earth, Matt. 5. 5. To them God will reveal His secrets, Ps. 45. 4. A meek and a quiet spirit is precious in the sight of God and lovely in the sight of men, 1 Pet. 3. 4. It flows out of humility and involves a willingness to submit to others, when submission is not contrary to God’s will.
The exercises of meekness are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit, says TRENCH, in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. It does not fight against God, or struggle and contend with Him. ‘Take my yoke upon you’, said the Lord Jesus, ‘for I am meek and lowly in heart’, and the result is that we shall find peace to our souls.
Meekness is also exercised towards man. There are circumstances in which meekness is essential. It is the spirit in which to learn, Jas. 1. 21. Meekness makes a person teachable. A man knows his own ignorance, and is humble enough to admit it, and is thus receptive to the truth. Correction is to be given in a spirit of meekness, Gal. 6. 1. Correction can sometimes discourage - it has to be given in a spirit of meekness. A spirit of meekness does not mean an easy-going toleration of evil. On the contrary, it is intolerance of evil that provides the occasion here for the manifestation of the meek spirit. But that meek spirit will not be characterized by self-righteousness, or censoriousness, or an air of superiority. So, too, instruction to those who oppose is to be given with meekness, 2 Tim. 2. 25. It must not be a case of bludgeoning others into subjection. Furthermore, we are to defend the faith, Peter tells us, in the spirit of meekness and fear, 1 Pet. 3. 15. There can be firmness and courage without bumptiousness and bigotry. Christian witness should be winsome as well as strong. Indeed, meekness is the secret of the attractive Christian life, James tells us, Jas. 3. 13. Here is a man whose life before others is obviously good. What then is the first mark of Christian character? We would answer ‘love’, but in very many passages of scripture the answer is ‘meekness’. Over and over again the New Testament says that meekness, a proper lowly regard of self, is the characteristic which is to pervade all life and actions.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Bernard Osborne is retired from a career in education and is in fellowship in the assembly at Dinas Powis, Wales. He is a gifted Bible teacher and travels extensively in ministry throughout the UK and N. America.