Thursday, October 13, 2016

The spiritual fruit of meekness

Image result for breaking a horse
Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

The closest that the Merriam Webster Dictionary comes to the Biblical definition of meekness is in its primary entry: "enduring injury with patience and without resentment" or "mild". It is unfortunate, in many Christian circles today, that little to no discussion is carried on with respect to meekness. Often-times people equate this virtue with "weakness", since its outward appearance seems to indicate a passivity or "wishy-washiness". However, nothing could be further from the truth. Dr. John Piper writes the following insight about meekness:

"Meekness begins when we put our trust in God. Then, because we trust him, we commit our way to him. We roll onto him our anxieties, our frustrations, our plans, our relationships, our jobs, our health. And then we wait patiently for the Lord. We trust his timing and his power and his grace to work things out in the best way for his glory and for our good." 

This particular virtue of meekness, translated in Galatians 5:22 as "self-control", will be the focus of today's post. 

Breaking the will and taming a horse
I can recall one time watching an evangelist do a presentation whereby he tamed a horse before a live audience. This man was equally adept in training horses and proclaiming God's Word. He led a wild pony into a circular ring that was bucking and kicking. As the "cowboy evangelist" began to speak, he told the audience how before Christ, all human beings have a will that is in rebellion against God. The evangelist then proceeds to chase the colt around the circular ring. The little pony is trying to hide from the Evangelist, who is speaking in soft tones but is persisting closer and closer. At times, the colt bumps into the fence, but since it is circular, he has to keep moving. Over the course of the presentation, the little pony's will is "broken" due to fatigue. By the end of the presentation, the cowboy evangelist is able to get on the horse and ride him out of the arena. By "breaking in" the pony, the man is able to teach it how to exercise its strength and youthfulness under the control of his saddle and reigns. God does that to the Christian. Once our will is "broken" by the law of God, we hear the gentle voice of Jesus and soon, He is saddling us so that we can proceed under His Lordship.

Meekness is strength under control
When I think back to that cowboy evangelist, I'm reminded of the ancient Greek meaning of the word translated "meek" or "self-control" in the New Testament. The Greek dictionary by Liddell-Scott traces the origin of this word back to the days when the Greek would tame their domesticated beasts. Meekness in ancient Greece was a virtue and was the bedrock for other virtues such as courage. The New Testament takes this word and applies it to the spiritual arena of the Christian life. So, why is meekness so important for the Christian today? Note in brief three reasons...

1. Christ-likeness includes meekness
Jesus says in Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." As Jesus rode into Jerusalem in Matthew 21:5, we discover that He was fulfilling Bible prophecy in His meekness. The text reads in Matthew 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The Apostle Paul exhorts his listeners towards Christ-likeness with these words in 1 Corinthians 10:1 "Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!" So meekness is important for the Christian due to its Christ-like nature. But notice secondly why we need meekness in the Christian life....

2. Character of faith grows by meekness
From the onset of saving faith, we discover the place of meekness in James 1:21 "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." As Paul was instructing young Pastor Timothy in his Christian growth, we read these words in 1 Timothy 6:11 "But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." We know from the book of James and other books of the Bible that faith and works go hand-in-hand. We are saved by faith apart from works to a faith that works. Whenever we consider the necessity for meekness in the development of one's character of faith, the clear words of James 3:11-13 stand out: "Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. Wisdom from above 13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom." We could go on and on. The Old Testament reminds us of how God leads those who are meek to follow Him in his way (Psalm 25:9). Then of course, in words most likely composed by Joshua under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Moses is described as the "meekest man who ever lived" in Numbers 12:3. Undoubtedly, meekness is a virtue that ought to be highly prized by the Christian due to its Christ-like character and the character of faith the grows by it. Would it be that all Christ-followers would excel in this Spirit-wrought virtue of meekness. 

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