Gentleness

By K.P. Yohannan

When Moses stretched out his rod and parted the waters of the Red Sea, he forever became, in the eyes of the children of Israel, their greatest leader and deliverer.

But amazingly, Moses was great in the eyes of the Lord for a entirely different reason: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3).

Why did God think so highly of Moses’ meekness? Whenever God searches for someone to lead His people, He always looks for a person who exhibits the character of His Spirit, including His meekness.

Growing up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses had all the advantages of wealth and power. But before the Lord could use Moses, He first had to strip him of those Egyptian advantages. Then He had to
place His Spirit within him and give him opportunity to develop meekness-the gentle humility that would qualify him for the job of deliverer.

What’s Gentleness All About?

When we think about a meek person, we typically picture a spineless, weak creature who has no opinion, no strength of will. We think of someone with a doormat mentality. Yet when we look at Moses-and also
Jesus, who described Himself as “meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29)-this picture couldn’t be further from the truth. Both Moses and Jesus were actually men of great authority and strength.

Moses confronted the powerful Pharaoh, divided the Red Sea, led several million Jews for 40 years through the dangers of the desert, and changed slaves into warriors. He taught the laws of God, set up an entire government and stood alone to intercede for a rebellious nation.

Jesus fearlessly proclaimed the truth in the face of religious leaders who opposed Him and plotted His death. He exercised authority over demons, sickness, death and the elements of nature by speaking a single word. He walked toward the cross unflinchingly and completed His mission by defeating Satan himself and securing salvation for humankind.

Looking at just these two examples, then, we must conclude that weakness and meekness have nothing in common. So what exactly does it mean to be meek?

* Meekness is more than gentleness. I can be gentle when I pat a puppy or hold a small child, but that doesn’t make me a meek person.

* Meekness is more than obedience to someone’s will. Obedience can result from fear, not necessarily from a meek heart.

* Meekness is more than submission. I can be submissive because of cultural pressure and yet have absolutely no meekness in my heart.

What, then, is meekness? Meekness in the biblical sense is a combination of all three of these characteristics, expressed through a freewill action on our part. It’s a willing, joyful, gentle and
submissive attitude of obedience. When we’re meek, we’re at peace with accepting and doing the will of God, whatever it may be.

Some years ago, the Lord sent one of our native missionaries to the Indian island of Rameswaram, a Hindu pilgrimage center, to plant a church. The missionary who had gone there before him had been martyred for his faith, and this new pastor and his family has had to endure times of intense suffering and persecution.

Yet this bold missionary’s words reflect the attitude of his heart: “We have come here not to go back. Even if death should come, we are ready to face it.” He can speak those words with deep conviction because the Spirit has produced a meekness in his heart that has no reservations about how God sees fit to use his life.

How We Develop Meekness

Fruit on a tree is no accident. It’s expected as a normal part of a healthy tree’s development. In the same way, if we’re truly born again and our spiritual growth is unhindered, we’ll naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Even so, meekness – like any other fruit of the Spirit – won’t appear fully grown in our lives overnight. Just like fruit on a tree, it takes time to blossom, to develop and to mature.

Meekness also requires cultivation. As anyone who has cared for fruit trees will tell you, there’s a clear and direct relationship between the care for the tree and the amount and quality of fruit harvested.
So if we truly desire meekness in our lives, we must first seek out the things that cause it to grow.

Jesus gives us clear direction in this matter: “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). Notice that Jesus only extends an invitation to us to take on His yoke
and to learn; He never forces us into submission.

Taking His yoke willingly upon our lives marks the beginning of the development of meekness in our lives, just like the blossom stage in a fruit tree. Keeping His yoke upon us is the secret to bringing the
blossom to a mature fruit. Yet sadly, few Christians give meekness an opportunity to develop because the first chance we get, we tear off His yoke – and thus destroy the developing fruit.

A Promised Reward

Many believers desire to influence not only our churches but our society and nation as well. So they fight for rights and collect signatures-no doubt a valid avenue for activism in our country.

Yet Jesus gave us a better way to have a true impact on our generation: with meekness! He promised: “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

It’s difficult for us to see how this strategy could work. But Jesus portrayed it with His own life-and through His gentle submission to the Father’s will, He changed the destiny of humankind.

Our service in the body of Christ will be severely hindered if we aren’t careful to cultivate this fruit of meekness. Just consider this: When the apostle Paul wrote guidelines for restoration (Gal. 6:1),
instruction (2 Tim. 2:25), treatment of fellow Christians (Col. 3:12-13) and dealings with unbelievers (Titus 3:2), each time he emphasized that these must be done with an attitude of meekness.

The call to meekness is accompanied by a promise for our personal lives: “The meek…shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Ps. 37:11). Moreover, Jesus said those who learn meekness from Him would “find rest for [their] souls” (Matt. 11:29).

Could it be that the lack of peace in our families and society can be traced back to the sad reality that so few Christians have developed the fruit of meekness? If so, then our need for repentance is urgent.
We must determine today to take up Jesus’ yoke and begin to grow thefirstfruits of meekness in our lives.

(The above information was published by CHARISMA, May 1993)

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