But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Meekness is the penultimate quality in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. To understand what Scripture means by by meekness we shall begin by examining how the word is first used.
C9.1 Moses meek above all
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And He said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.
Miriam and Aaron spoke against their own brother because of his marriage to an Ethiopian woman. This incident happened at a time when the whole nation of Israel was murmuring against all that God had done, and what he was providing. In the previous Chapter they had complained about God’s provision of manna, and began to lust after flesh to eat; this, of course being diametrically opposite to what Jesus did in the wilderness, as we saw in the previous study. In the next Chapter we see the great rebellion at Kadesh where the whole nation, except for Joshua and Caleb, failed to believe God, preferring to believe instead the ten spies, thus barring their own entry to the promised land.
This grumbling had now spread to Moses’ own kith and kin. Their complaint concerned the leadership of Moses, despite having their own calling from God already: Miriam was a prophetess, Ex.15:20-21 and Aaron was the High Priest, Ex.28:1. Because of Moses’ marriage they complained; they were not satisfied with what they had from God; jealousy had consumed them, and they said that God had spoken by them as well as Moses.
It is in this context that the comment is made that Moses was very meek above all the men. God then came and spoke and vindicated Moses, His chosen man. Moses did not answer his siblings nor did he defend himself. Instead God vindicated his servant, and struck Miriam with leprosy. Moses pleaded for her and God restored the woman Num.12:16. Moses wasn’t concerned for his own justification but for others’ well being instead.
Here then is what scripture means as meekness. Moses, unlike Aaron or Miriam, wasn’t self assertive he was the very opposite. Moses was of such a spirit that he was not wrapped up in himself; he preferred others, seeking their well being instead of his own reputation.
C9.2 Thy King is meek
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, Thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Turning now to the Lord Jesus, we will see how this worked out in Him, looking at one particular part of His earthly life: the days leading up to the Cross. When He entered Jerusalem triumphantly, He was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah (Zech. 9:9). In it it states that the King is meek. The events are well known: He enters Jerusalem and all the crowds are rejoicing in Him and praising Him.
We note here that firstly Jesus did not seek and demand the recognition of the crowd, it was spontaneous, Jesus did not assert Himself demanding that He should be praised for who He is. Secondly, Jesus rode in on the lowliest of beasts, an ass. In contradistinction to this world’s ways He never asked for the grand trappings of royalty, He was content with this lowly entrance to Jerusalem. The crowds were expecting an earthly kingdom, but Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world Jn.18:36; it is no wonder then that there were no trappings as one would expect with earthly kingdoms.
Jesus, our King, was meek, He was submitted to His Father’s will, that’s why He came to this earth Heb.10:7. He was not self assertive, but rather left His path to the one who would guide aright.
The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
After entering Jerusalem He comes to the Temple and overthrows the tables of the money changers, and within a week the crowds, who had welcomed Him with praise were crying ‘crucify Him’.
As we trace the events of the crucifixion we note that Jesus was meek throughout: not once did He seek to justify Himself nor assert Himself in any way. All that happened was illegal in both Roman and Jewish law. From His arrest at night in the garden to Him being handed over to the executioners, all was illegal; if one traces in detail these events, as many have done in the past, one can see that that was indeed the case. Just think what a field day modern day lawyers would have if that happen today!
If anyone had a valid reason to complain of being wronged, and could have justified Himself, it was Jesus. But He did not do that. He was so concerned with our well being that He suffered it all and went through the terrible of agonies and humiliation of crucifixion in order that we could have salvation. Jesus left it to His father to justify Him, which is what happened three days later.
… concerning His Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord,
Jesus was meek, He walked in he Spirit and was only concerned with His Father’s will and glory. Whatever the cost Jesus submitted Himself to that; not once was He wrapped up in Himself, on no occasion was He ever self-assertive. The King was truly meek, and He had the hardest path to tread!
C9.3 Take His yoke
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The invitation that Jesus gives to all is to come to Him, and take His yoke and learn of Him. He says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The implication being that all other yokes and burdens are difficult and heavy. One is reminded of a quote by Andrew Murray:
It is not the yoke, but resistance to the yoke that makes for the difficulty
Andrew Murray (1828 – 1917)
The invitation is clear: we are to come to Him to learn of Him, to be meek and lowly as He is; to find rest in Him and to bear His yoke. In other words to walk, as He walked in the Spirit, and display the same fruit. We are to be meek, not to be self assertive, but to leave all in the hands of the Father. Instead, we are to be concerned with the interests and well being of others. Let the world falsely accuse, let them treat us like they treated Jesus, but let us live as Jesus did! Let us be sold out for the benefit of others, Jesus sets the example, we are to follow Him in the same way.
In the epistles we have similar exhortations
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
The fruit of the Spirit is….meekness, as we walk in the Spirit, and not the flesh we shall be meek; we will not be justifying ourselves, nor demanding our rights, but rather be in subjection to Him who will keep us as we seek the good of others.