The fruit of the Spirit is meekness: Nine spirit-filled characteristics demonstrated by Jesus
Paul often compared things to one another to show how we should overcome the world, its vices (Galatians 5:19-21), and its broad road that leads to damnation. He encourages us to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18) and then proceeds to explain what this involves. This is surely one of the most memorable pieces of Scripture, and it is a practical guideline for us as believers:
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
The eighth fruit in the series Paul mentions is meekness. In our modern English language, the word meekness has been given a rather negative meaning. It is often associated with being weak, where aggression and an aspiration to force our way to the top is very much the order of the day. There are people in the Bible who were characterised as meek, yet they were successful. Moses is described as meek (Numbers 12:3) yet by all accounts you need a strong character to take on the Egyptian king, lead a nation out of bondage, and then prepare them to enter a land you have never been to. Jesus showed Himself to resist the devil, perform miracles, face death, and the conquer it. He says of Himself that He is meek (Matthew 11:29). Paul endured countless attempts on his life, lived in terrible conditions, and died a violent death. None of them could be seen as meek according to our definition. Let us rather look at what the Word says about meekness:
5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5
It is quite the opposite of our dictionary meanings, isn’t it? First, the meek are blessed by God. Moreover, they will inherit the Earth. Thus, those who display a character of meekness, not strong-willed, self-centred aggression, will inherit the Earth, with Jesus, to reign as kings (Romans 5:17; Revelation 5:10).
In the original Greek, the word used for meekness is πρᾳότης, transliterated as praotes, which means gentleness, mildness, or reservation. It is also defined as gentleness, a fruit of the Spirit we have already covered. Meekness then, means something more, even something else, than gentleness.
Meekness is the result of a person’s decision to not think of themselves as higher than others. When we look at Matthew 5, we see the two beatitudes preceding meekness – the poor in Spirit and those who mourn. Why are they called poor in Spirit? Because they are not highminded and know that they are dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit every day of their lives. Why do they mourn? Because they know the extent of their sin, and their dependability on God alone, to have their sins forgiven. The Jewish leaders displayed neither of these qualities. Thus, those around them had no example to follow, except to find the example in their simple (poor) faith in God and His Word. Paul describes believers this way:
3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. – Romans 3:12
Meekness is such an important fruit of a Spirit-filled life, that Paul encourages Timothy (1 Timothy 6:11); and Titus (Titus 3:2) to run after it, and grab it. James gives the same advice (James 1:21; James 3:13). Jesus describes Himself as meek:
28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
What they could not get from the highminded Jewish leaders, they got from Jesus Himself. This continues in our day. Do not try to emulate what you see others do. Rather look at the Word and then do what Jesus did, and commanded us to do:
1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. – Matthew 21:1-3
Displaying the fruit of meekness may be difficult as many of us do not want to be seen by the world as losers. It also contradicts what we really want to be – in control. Meekness takes control away from us and puts is where it belongs: in God’s hands. Even Jesus Himself accepted this:
41And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. – Luke 22:41-42
We are always so quick to want things to go our way. Relinquishing power and control seems to us like giving up. It does not have to be this way. Let God control the situation and you will be amazed at the results. Giving up your hopes and ambitions in a spirit of meekness requires faith, especially when you believe that you have put in a lot of effort to get where you are. Paul sums it up this way:
20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
Meekness is the power you have to submit to God’s will and let your own will by the wayside. Paul states that his own self was killed with Jesus. Though he still lives, it is really Jesus Christ that is now the driving force in his life. The life he lives, is driven by faith, that His will for him is the best. Knowing that He loved Paul first and gave everything so that he can have life, is far greater than any accomplishment he could have had on his own.
In a spirit of meekness, ask God this week to remove your self-will from you. Then wait.