Meekness: Do You Have This Quality?

A Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study

Meekness: Do You Have This Quality?

September 1, 2020 Save Article

OVERVIEW

“Meekness” is possibly the most misunderstood of all the Fruit of the Spirit because so many people think “meek” means “weak.” It does not. The only thing those two words have in common is that they rhyme. On the contrary, it takes great strength to live out the quality of meekness.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

The humble [meek] He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. (Psalm 25:9, added for clarity)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, added for clarity)

Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

INTRODUCTION

As we continue our studies of the Fruit of the Spirit, we come to that quality called “meekness.” All the varied Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.—are qualities we see so clearly in the life and temperament of the one Perfect Man, Jesus Christ. I call these “Son-Ripened Fruit.” Each is a fruit we can’t produce on our own. Jesus produces the Fruit of the Spirit within us and through us.

Like many, you may have the wrong idea about meekness. Is it being quiet and soft-spoken? Timid and shy? Letting others say or do what they wish, while you stand by like a mouse and just let it happen? True meekness isn’t being a doormat. It’s not being shy or retiring or a push-over. By the end of this study, you’ll know clearly what meekness is and what it is not, and you’ll see it lived out in the lives of two famous people in the Bible. When you see who they are, the mystery around meekness will clear up. They were the epitome of genuine meekness.

  1. What has been your idea about meekness—what did you think it was before beginning this study?
  2. Before we look at Scripture, what do you think it takes to be a meek person?
  3. Did you expect meekness to be among the Fruit of the Spirit? Aside from love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness, what traits would you have listed as Fruit of the Spirit instead of meekness? Why?

DISCUSSION

Our study will look at three aspects of the fruit of meekness: its Meaning, Method, and Motive.

The Meaning of Meekness

Who made this statement in the Bible? “Come unto me…for I am meek and lowly in heart…” (Matthew 11:28-29). If you answered “The Lord Jesus”—you’re right.

People think meekness is cowardice; that if you’re a meek person, you can’t stand up for what’s right. You’re required to be timid and spineless, like the cartoon character “Caspar Milque-Toast.”

But was Jesus timid and cowardly? The same Jesus who took a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple? Who fasted and prayed for forty nights alone in the wilderness, where the Bible says there were wild beasts? Who “set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem" (Isaiah 50:7), knowing He would be crucified, sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, and suffered on the cross in agony and blood? The one who embraced the cross, saying, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17-18). Jesus Christ was the manliest Man who ever lived, yet He said, “I am meek and lowly of heart.

Second only to Jesus, the Bible says the next meekest man was Moses (Numbers 12:3). He was a commander in chief, a general who led the children of Israel out of the land of bondage to their Promised Land. He stood down Pharaoh face to face in his own palace, when Pharaoh was the most powerful ruler on earth in his day. Moses was a mighty man of valor. Meekness is not being timid, soft-spoken, insecure, or shy.

What Meekness Is
Meekness is the opposite of weakness. Meekness is incredible strength under control. This is the very definition of meekness: “strength under control.” Remember those three words and keep them in mind whenever you hear the word “meekness.”

The best example of strength under control is what happens when a trainer takes a wild horse and “breaks” that stallion so he can be ridden and be useful. His strength isn’t altered or taken away—it’s domesticated and channeled for good. That’s fine for a horse, but how does it work out in our lives?

Keep in mind the image of a horse who has come under the discipline and control of his master. We come into this world with all sorts of drives, instincts, abilities, and ambitions. Each of us has strengths. These natural abilities are all gifts from God. When the Holy Spirit begins to work on us to produce the character of Christ, He doesn’t take these things away from us but brings them under His control for His glory.

The devil, on the other hand, wants to take our gifts and pervert them for his own use to bring shame upon the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s a wild stallion in all of us before we become a follower of Christ. Even after we’re saved, we still have free will because God has given us a choice. We can surrender to His Lordship or reject it—although if you claim to be a Christian, yet continually reject Jesus’ Lordship, I question if you’re truly saved.

We can go three different ways with our natural, God-given abilities.

Self-Assertion 
Just assert yourself without restraint. Let the horse within run wild, doing whatever he wants. Eliminate the rider who would bring him under control. In the pop culture of the ’60s, the mantra was “If it feels good, do it.” Just do whatever you want.

Ancient people were smarter about this than we are today. They figured out a way to legitimize “If it feels good, do it.” When they wanted to do something wicked and vile, if they wanted to let the horses run wild, they would take that vice and deify it. They’d make it a god. If adultery and unbridled lust was their passion, they’d say, “Let’s get us a goddess. We’ll name her Venus, the goddess of sexuality and promiscuity.” To worship at the altar of Venus meant unbridled sex, anytime, anywhere, with anyone. They created Venus so they could fulfill every sexual desire.

If getting drunk was their passion, they created Bacchus, the god of wine, worshiping him by getting drunk. Their lust for revenge, hate, and war, was expressed in worshiping Mars, their god of war, letting the horses run wild. And on it went. Pretty smart—in a perverted way.

It reached its pinnacle in a philosopher named Nietzsche, the apostle of self-assertion, letting the horses run wild. Nietzsche said,

Get rid of your pious priests and their weak-livered gospel of mercy. Purge out of your souls this disease, this devil of Christianity. Progress depends upon the strong man and strong people. Therefore, be strong. Assert yourself. Be a superman.

His most notorious follower was Adolph Hitler. Gas ovens were the result.

Self-Restraint
The opposite approach to dealing with your natural desires is to tamp them down. Dampen those desires. Restrain yourself. Cripple the horse. That’s a form of Buddhism, the belief that having all these unbridled desires or drives leads to frustration. They say, “Get to where you don’t have desires anymore. Sublimate your desires until you come to a place of nothingness. It’s kind of like cutting off your head to get rid of a headache. It’s negative, and Christianity isn’t negative; it’s a positive faith. God’s way is not to eliminate the rider or to cripple the horse,

Self-Surrender
Yield your strengths, your desires, your talents, to the Lord Jesus Christ, and let Him control you. God’s way is to take your strengths, ambition, all God has given you, and use them, as you “yield your members as servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:19). God doesn’t want to cripple you but to take all He gave you and control it for His glory.

Your temper: God says don’t lose your temper but use your temper. “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). When Jesus saw the money changers in the temple, He was moved with anger. He didn’t lose His temper: He used it. He wasn’t out of control but in control. Jesus wants you to control your temper and use it for His glory. If you don’t have any temper, there’s something wrong. Certain things ought to make you good and mad. You ought to rise up against evil.

Your tongue: You’ve used your tongue to complain, slander, argue, and feud. God wants you to bring it under His control, praising Him and blessing others.

Your ambition: Ambition isn’t wrong for a Christian. You ought to have an ambition—not to be the biggest, the best, the most powerful, but like the apostle Paul, devoted to being like the Lord Jesus, serving Him with every ounce of his being.

If you have unbridled desires, Jesus Christ can control them. Hand the reins over to Him. Say, “I can’t control these wild horses, but Lord, I yield the reins to You. You take control.” This is a meek person: one who has turned the reins over to the Lord Jesus and let Jesus do for him and through him and with him what he could not do by himself. Not self-assertion or self-repression, but self-control, self-surrender, under the mastery of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. In your own words, what is true meekness?
  2. What is the difference between meekness and timidity?
  3. Now that you know the real definition of meekness, when in the life of Jesus did you see meekness in action? Apart from going to the Cross, what situations would it have been most challenging for Him to remain meek, under His Father’s control?
  4. Do you remember a time in your life when you probably should have asked God to give you “strength under control”? How might things have turned out differently?
  5. In your own life, where or when does true meekness become the most difficult for you?
  6. How did ancient people/cultures justify and participate in their wicked desires?
  7. How will your unbridled desires be contained? (Self-restraint is not the answer).
  8. Why is having ambition not wrong for a Christian?

The Method of Meekness

How will you gain this fruit of the Spirit called meekness? James 1:21 tells you how:

Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.

You don’t know enough to guide your life. You need guidance. God knows what you don’t know. If you’re going to be meek, if God is going to have the reins of your life and guide you, then you must “receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your soul.”

To be under God’s control, “strength under discipline,” you must know His will and His way, and to know that, you must know His Word, received with meekness. Here’s how you do that:

A Repentant Spirit
“Lay aside wickedness.” In other words, repent. You must be willing to repent. Get the spiritual wax out of your ears. Many of us who’ve been saved still have an unsanctified part of our lives, a residual sin still lingering around. You repent by saying, “I lay aside this wickedness. I turn from it.” Then do so. If you want God to speak to you, guide you, if you want to understand the Bible, the only way is by repentance.

A Receptive Spirit
Look at the word “receive” in James 1:21. It’s not reaching out and grabbing it. You won’t receive or understand the Word with that spirit. No matter your intellect, you won’t go into the Word of God and pull the truth out. You’ll never understand the real message of the Word of God if that’s the way you try to get truth. You receive it like you would a gift, and you say, “Thank you, thank you.” Or as you’d receive a welcome guest. You say, “Come in. I’m delighted to have you.”

Have you opened the door of your heart to welcome the Word of God, saying “O, God, I receive Your truth”? Never make the Word of God pass by the judgment bar of your mind while you try to decide whether or not the Word is welcome. Dear friend, you’ll never learn truth that way. Lay your intellectual pride in the dust. Humble yourself. Get your heart right with God and welcome the Word of God.

A Responsive Spirit
James chapter 1 continues: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). When you welcome the Word, and the Word is implanted in your heart, you become a doer of the Word.

What you believe is how you will live. The rest is just religious talk. Be a doer of the Word. If you come to church, yet don’t practice what you hear, if you read your morning devotion and say, “I got a nugget from the Word,” but don’t live by it, you’re guilty of one grand self-deception. “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

Jesus said, “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26). To hear and not to do is absolute soul insanity. If you simply get facts and don’t live by them, it will have a bad effect on your life.

The way you gain the fruit of the Spirit called meekness is to receive with meekness the implanted Word of God. Do it with a repentant spirit, a receptive spirit, and a responsive spirit. It needs to go through our heads, through our hearts, and come out in our lives.

  1. Can’t we just figure out what we should do ourselves? Why do you and I need guidance?
  2. What will it require from you to begin the process of being under God’s control?
  3. To be under God’s control, what must you know?
  4. Where does repentance come into this process?
  5. What should your heart attitude be in order to receive and understand God’s Word? In other words, how you “welcome the Word”?

The Motive for Meekness

What will meekness do for you? Why should you desire it? By living in meekness (strength under control), you can have guidance, insight, and the leadership of God in every crisis of life. You can have serenity and rest for your soul. That should provide sufficient motivation!

Wealth: The meek will inherit the earth (see Matthew 5:5).

All things are yours (1 Corinthians 3:21)

Having nothing, and yet possessing all things (2 Corinthians 6:10)

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1)

Man lost his inheritance by lack of meekness when he rebelled against God in the garden. People who have a rebellious spirit aren’t enjoying life. They never receive their inheritance, their true resources, because of rebellion. But for God’s child, everything God has, we have, and it all belongs to us. At the moment, nothing “belongs” to us because we’re stewards of all God possesses. But a time is coming, dear friend, when all of this comes into the possession of God’s children, for the Bible says we will inherit the earth. Jesus is returning from heaven and will sit upon the throne of His Father, David, where He will reign on earth, and we’re going to reign with Him.

Wisdom: The meek will have His guidance.

The humble [meek] He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. (Psalm 25:9, added for clarity).

If you complain, “God isn’t speaking!”, it’s because you’re not hearing. You’re not surrendering in meekness to God so He can guide you. Do you want God’s guidance and leading? If you’ll become meek, humbling yourself with a repentant, receptive, responsive spirit, God will guide and teach you. You won’t be a ship sailing on a dark night without compass or rudder. God will give wisdom for whatever circumstance you’re in, whatever crisis you face, because He has mastered you (meekness = strength under control) and is guiding you.

Worship: The meek will experience great peace and serenity.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, added for clarity)

When an ox is in a yoke, he has been made meek. He has tremendous strength, but the yoke of the Master is on the ox so he can pull his load. That’s the meekness the Lord Jesus wants to give you today. He says, “Learn of My meekness, and you’re going to have this kind of rest.”

Whatever your yoke may be, surrendering to God in meekness (strength under control), brings wisdom, guidance, leadership, and insight, no matter what crisis you face in life. Peace and joy come in the midst of it. Worship will rise from this vital relationship with God. It’s all wrapped up in this word meekness—the way to wealth (your inheritance in Christ), wisdom (guidance and leadership), and worship (the result of rest, peace, and serenity).

  1. Jesus’ statement that “the meek will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5) is a concept that’s hard for us to grasp. How do these passages shed some light on this truth?
  1. What will meekness, surrendering control to God, bring to your relationship with Him?
  2. What could be holding you back from giving the reins of your life over to Jesus?

Do you want to know this wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus? Do you want to have your sin forgiven? Do you want peace with God? He loves you so much. Come to Jesus. Come.

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This Bible Study was taken from the message, "The Mighty Meek" (#1446).

Learn more about how to study the Bible with the LWF Bible Study Guide.


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