by Martin G. Collins
Forerunner, "Bible Study," September-October 1998
Meekness is an elusive virtue that few can accurately define. Most definitions are vague on its meaning, and many people equate it to weakness. God praises Moses for being the meekest man of his time (Numbers 12:3, KJV). Though one of the greatest leaders in human history, he thought of himself as a servant in relationship to God, so he quietly and gently submitted to God's will. He refused to elevate his own importance over that of God, exercising his authority in humility. This Bible study on the "fruit of the Spirit" searches out the biblical meaning of the eighth fruit, "meekness."
1. Which word for this eighth fruit is most accurate? Galatians 5:23.
Comment: The NKJV translates the Greek word prautes as "gentleness," while the KJV uses "meekness." II Corinthians 10:1 refers to Christ's meekness (prautes) and gentleness (epieikeia) as separate virtues. Prautes describes a condition of mind and heart—an internal attitude—whereas gentleness (mildness combined with tenderness) refers to actions—an external behavior. Although English has no direct equivalent words to prautes, "meekness" comes closest. The drawback to this is that in modern English "meekness" carries the stigma of weakness and cowardliness. In contrast, the meekness manifested by God and given to the saints is the fruit of power. It is enduring injury with patience and without resentment.
2. What are the elect of God to seek, pursue and put on? Zephaniah 2:3 (KJV); I Timothy 6:11 (KJV); Colossians 3:12.
Comment: Meekness is rooted in God, and therefore we must pursue it. Because it is a quality of God's character, we must exert effort to make it part of our character. Although we may be experiencing adversity, as the meek we should still appreciate God's good and gracious will.
3. What is God's reaction to the meek? Psalm 25:9 (KJV); 147:6 (KJV); Isaiah 11:4.
Comment: The truly righteous are meek and receptive to the Word of God. God says that He will guide the patient of those who have been wronged and will decide fairly for them.
4. How important is producing the fruit of meekness? Psalm 37:11; 149:4 (KJV); Matthew 5:5; James 1:21; I Peter 3:3-4 (KJV).
Comment: The Holy Spirit enables us to produce meekness, a necessary attitude for understanding God's Word. An added benefit to the meek is that God promises them the enjoyment of peace. A meek and quiet spirit is so very precious to God that he calls it an imperishable ornament, and He rewards the meek with inheritance of the earth.
5. How did Jesus Christ set us an example of meekness? Isaiah 53:4, 7, 9; Matthew 11:25-29; 26:62-67; Mark 15:3-5; II Corinthians 10:1; Philippians 2:5-8.
Comment: Jesus shows us that meekness is not a mere contemplative virtue; it is maintaining peace and patience in the midst of pelting provocations. In II Corinthians Paul realizes that the meek and gentle approach can easily appear as weakness to those unfamiliar with Jesus' example, so he calls it "the meekness . . . of Christ." True meekness is always measured by Christ's meekness. His humility, patience and total submission of His own will to the will of the Father exemplifies meekness.
6. How does good conduct relate to meekness? James 3:13; I Peter 3:15-16.
Comment: Good conduct is not meekness, but we should show the attitude of meekness in good conduct, that is, in righteousness. Works done in righteousness are done with an attitude of meekness. Synonyms for meek are "gentle," "humble," "poor" and "lowly."
7. To whom should we show meekness? Galatians 6:1; II Timothy 2:24-25; Titus 3:1-2.
Comment: We should have a meek attitude to all others regardless of our relationship with them. Even when someone is antagonistic, meek correction and teaching will assist God in leading them to repentance. For prautes, the NKJV uses "gentleness" in Galatians and "humility" in II Timothy and Titus. Both of these are qualities of meekness. Meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest. It is evenness of mind—neither elated nor cast down—because a truly meek person is not occupied with self at all.
The focus of true meekness is not in our outward behavior only or in our relationships to other human beings. Neither is the focus on our natural disposition. Rather, it is an inwardly developed tender-heartedness, and the performing of it is first and chiefly toward God. It is the attitude in which we accept God's will toward us as good, and thus without disputing or resisting. Since true meekness is before God, we realize He permits and uses the insults and injuries that the world or others in the church may inflict for our chastening and purification.
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