Recently, the Men’s Group (so why did I feel the need to capitalize ‘Men’s Group?) at the church I attend were contemplating one of the questions posed in our current study. The question was “How can we be meek in our relationships without becoming weak?”
After much discussion, the first thing we all concluded was that we weren’t entirely sure we understood exactly what it means to be meek. So I started studying a bit and here’s my summation.
If you go allllllll the way to the end, you’ll find the scripture references i used.
Study notes on meekness:
Microsoft word: (adjective) 1: mild: showing mildness or quietness of nature 2: cowed: showing submissiveness and lack of initiative or will
American Heritage Dictionary (2009) (adjective) 1: Showing patience and humility; gentle. 2: Easily imposed on: submissive.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1974) (adjective) 1: characterized by patience and long-suffering. 2: deficient in spirit and courage. 3: moderate
Synonyms: humble, timid, submissive, gentle, docile, modest, compliant, mild
Cowed? Lack of initiative or will, deficient in spirit and courage? Ok, granted, there are some fairly positive definitions of meek, but for the most part, it’s not something most men would want to have carved on their tombstone (“Here’s lies Wilhoff…deficient in spirit and courage”). And think about it: when you first think of the word meek, do you picture someone of great spiritual fortitude and strength…or someone wearing a pocket protector and bow tie? The way the world defines meekness is so very different from the way God views it.
After looking at 3 versions of the bible (NIV, NAS & KJV thanks to biblegateway.com), I found 30 uses of the word in the KJV, 4 in the NIV and only 2 in the NAS. By comparing all 30 verses in the KJV that contain the word meek (or a variation thereof) with the same verses in the NIV and NAS, the most oft used ‘substitutes’ are gentle (gentleness, gently) and humble (humility, humbly).
So as defined or described by scripture, meekness isn’t akin to weakness at all. In fact, as Christians who want to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), meekness (gentleness) is a quality possessed by Christ, therefore, something we should strive for.
Paul exhorts the church to show its gentleness to everyone (Philippians 4:5). In addressing the church at Corinth, Paul makes his appeal ‘by the humility and gentleness of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:1). He instructs the Colossians to ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’.
Humility is defined as modesty or respectfulness. Guess what my Thesaurus lists as one of its synonyms? Yep…meekness. ‘Possessing an unassuming nature’. We’re told that humility brings wisdom (Proverbs 11:2, James 3:13); that it is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 22:4). We’re instructed to clothe ourselves with humility (Colossians 3:12, Prov. 3:34 and referenced again in 1 Peter 5:5).
It’s obvious throughout scripture that God wants his children to be meek. Jesus even tells us the meek are so blessed they will inherit the earth.
Q: How can we be meek in our relationships without being weak?
I believe we first have to come to a proper acceptance and understanding of what it means to be meek. Rather than subscribe to the negative social definitions, we really have to get our hearts and minds around the fact that this is NOT a bad or weak thing that God is calling us to be. He’s calling us to be wise!
After reading through these many verses, it’s easy to see that this meekness, this humility and gentleness He is calling us to can’t be achieved without a confidence and strength that is born of the understanding of who He is, a sincere fear of His awesomeness and knowing who we are in Him.
Look at the blessings our God promises as a result of truly, sincerely pursuing meekness. Just go down the list of verses and you’ll see that the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity; they shall eat and be satisfied, there heart shall live for ever, they are guided in judgment and taught His way, delight in the abundance of peace and shall be saved! The meek He will beautify with salvation. Daddy God increases the joy of Him in the hearts of the meek!
 see the warning against delighting in false humility in Col. 2:18-19
Here’s what I’m seeing. Take a close look at Colossians 2:16-23. This is Paul warning about being swayed by people full of false humility.
There’s a saying in sales: sell the sizzle, not the steak. You focus on the ‘wow’ stuff that creates excitement and ‘buzz’ in order to make something more appealing.
That’s what a lot of these people were doing. They were the ones who were worshiping tasks, events, things they witnessed. The focus was no longer on Christ, but on how spiritual they could appear to one another. Paul says that they ‘lost connection with the head’ (vs. 19). THAT’S the death of humility: loosing connection with the head, which is Christ Jesus. The life, and the birth of humility come from knowing that our strength is Christ and Christ alone. As we continue to die to self, He increases, and His strength, His glory is what we reflect, rather than our own ideas and notions.
So I’m asking: if meekness means allowing more of Him to live in us, rule us, guide us, if it means I shut up and allow Him to shine brighter than me, how could I possibly be weak? Despite what others might think they see; true meekness, true humility and gentleness are manifestations of an unbelievable strength, an incomparable power (Eph. 1:18-20).
Finally: IF we truly pursue the heart of the Father, cling to His truth, yearn and learn of His heart for us and receive everything He graciously gives, meekness, humility and gentleness will be naturally ‘supernaturally’ birthed in us: a fruit of the Spirit that grows in us (Gal. 5:22…see gentleness?). And once we live in sincere humility/meekness…THEN His strength will be truly manifested in us.
Meek (meekly, meekness)
Three versions of the bible were searched for this study using Bible Gateway (http://www.biblegateway.com/):
New International Version (NIV), New American Standard (NAS) and the King James Version (KJV). When a different word(s) is used in another version, it is listed in blue following the verse reference. Please note that the actual word(s) used in the other version may be a variation or different tense of the word(s) listed.
: 1. 1 Kings 21:27
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meek
ly. NAS: despondently, KJV: softly
2. Psalm 37:11
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. NAS: humble
3. Zephaniah 3:12
But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the LORD. NAS: humble, KJV: afflicted
4. Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. NAS: gentle
1. Psalm 45:4
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;Let Your right hand teach You awesome things. NIV: humility
2. 2 Corinthians 10:1
[ Paul Describes Himself ] 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! NIV: humility
1. Numbers 12:3
(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) NIV & NAS: humble
2. Psalm 22:26
The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. NIV: humility
3. Psalm 25:9
The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. NIV & NAS: humble
4. Psalm 37:11
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. NAS: humble
5. Psalm 45:4
And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. NIV: humility
6. Psalm 76:9
When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah. NIV: afflicted, NAS: humble
7. Psalm 147:6
The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground. NIV: humble, NAS: afflicted
8. Psalm 149:4
For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. NIV: humble, NAS: afflicted
9. Isaiah 11:4
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. NIV: poor, NAS: afflicted
10. Isaiah 29:19
The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. NIV: humble, NAS: afflicted
- Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; NIV: poor, NAS: afflicted
- Amos 2:7
That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name: NIV: oppressed, NAS: humble
- Zephaniah 2:3
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger. NIV & NAS: humble
- Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. NAS: gentle (w/footnote for humble, meek)
- Matthew 11:29
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. NIV & NAS: gentle
- Matthew 21:5
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. NIV & NAS: gentle
1 Corinthians 4:21
- What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? NIV & NAS: gentle
- 2 Corinthians 10:1
Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: NIV: humility
- Galatians 5:23
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. NIV & NAS: gentleness
- 10. Galatians 6:1
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. NIV & NAS: gentle
- 11. Ephesians 4:2
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; NIV & NAS: gentle
- 12. Colossians 3:12
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; NIV & NAS: gentle
- 13. 1 Timothy 6:11
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. NIV & NAS: gentle
- 14. 2 Timothy 2:25
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; NIV & NAS: gentle
- 15. Titus 3:2
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. NIV & NAS: gentle
- 26. James 1:21
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. NIV & NAS: humbly/humility
27. James 3:13
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. NIV: humility, NAS: gentleness
28. 1 Peter 3:4
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. NIV & NAS: gentle
1 Peter 3:15
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: NIV & NAS: gentleness