Mom, that sounds like you and Dad arguing, ya’ know?
So interjected seven-year-old Gabe, as I wrote this very post yesterday. In the background, a radio talk show host was arguing with a caller. I wish I could say his comment was scripted.
In May I posted an introduction to Mademoiselle Meekness. I offered some reasons to pursue her and debunked a couple of misunderstandings about her. Matthew’s Henry’s 1698 essay, “The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit,” prompted both posts.
Our ladies’ small group finished the book last week. But before she’s shelved beside Puritan peers, I must pay my respects to the fair lady.
By way of recap, meekness is not a shy temperament. Nor is she mousy or weak. She is certainly not “tolerant” refusal to reason or settle on truth. I can’t resist including this century old G. K. Chesterton quote, describing such misplaced meekness:
What we suffer from today is humility [meekness] in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert—himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt—the Divine Reason . . .(, p. 31f.)
Meekness is “an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward people, springing from recognition that God is in control.”Meekness is power under control. She helps us govern our anger when provoked, and patiently bear the anger of others. She lets us keep silent when the heart is hot, and put up with insults.
In a June, 2013 Revive Our Hearts broadcast, Nancy Leigh DeMoss shared this wonderful example of meekness. George Whitefield was an 18th century English itinerant preacher and evangelist. During his ministry he received a malicious letter accusing him of wrongdoing. He replied:
I thank you heartily for your letter. As for what you and my other enemies are saying against me, I know worse things about myself than you will ever say about me.
With love in Christ,
Such adornment! Meekness makes us more attractive, certainly to our Lord, and likely to our neighbor. Adorn yourselves with a meek and quiet spirit, wrote Peter, which is very precious in God’s sight. We must remind the Father of his beloved Son when clothed with meekness. Learn of me, Jesus said:
for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:29)
|Are you a spiritual bee? (#4 below)|
Matthew Henry offers these “good principles which tend to make us meek and quiet.”
- He has the sweetest and surest peace who is the most master of his passions. Whoever controls his temper is better than a warrior…He that rules his spirit than he that takes a city. (Prov.16:32) Application: At the start of the T-ball season, our son seemed to be parked in the outfield, without much fielding opportunity. Were the coaches following rotation protocol? (Wo! to the Tiger Mom in me.) My spirit was vexed. In prayer, the Spirit convicted me to wait before I spoke or fretted more. Sure enough, sweet peace was restored-and before the next game when Gabe rotated to pitcher.
- In many things we all offend. We all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2) Henry adds, [Knowing man’s tendency to sin and stumble] should not be used to excuse our own faults and take the edge of repentance…but to excuse the faults of others and take the edge off our passion and displeasure. Application: Sometimes when others do not acknowledge “personal” emails, I (wrongly) take offense. Was it received, read, meaningful? I was just recently working into that peevish state after two unrequited notes, when what should appear? Scrolling through “marked as read,” I spotted a few of my own. No excuses and no edge off this repentance!
- Men are God’s hand, as it is said in Psalm 17:13-14. Men’s reproaches are God’s rebukes and whoever he be that offends me, I must see that the Father corrects me. Application: Exhibit 1: Gabe’s quote above. Out of the mouth of men and babes, God speaks. I stand corrected- again.
- There is no provocation given us at any time, but if it be skillfully improved, there is good to be gotten from it. It is an ill weed indeed out of which the spiritual bee cannot extract something profitable. Application: Last Friday a dear friend suggested I was being deceptive during a discussion. I wasn’t. I was being gracious, ambiguously allowing the possibility that the subject of our conversation had no ill intent. That’s all, not being deceptive. I (defensively) explained. Then, buzzed the bee. I zipped my lips. Maybe I could be more forthright.
- What is said and done in haste is like to need repentance. As when Abigail suggested to David that repentance would be needed if he avenged Nabal’s household. Application: An email again. The tone of the email was sarcastic and accusing. I drafted my response. Not mean, just clear and direct. Then- two sentences in- I paused. Don’t add gas to a fire. Or, to borrow Henry’s word picture, be soft sand, not loud rock, when the waves hit.
In case we’d need something more concrete than “principles,” Matthew Henry ends his essay with these “Rules for Direction” (AKA: “9 Tips To Be More Meek “):
1. Sit loose to the world and everything in it. Break a piece of new china when it arrives so you won’t be too attached to the set.
2. Be often repenting of sinful passion. If we confess our sins…
3. Stay out of the way of provocation. If possible.
4. Learn to pause before speaking. Count to 10 if you must.
5. Pray that God will work a meek spirit in you. Amen and amen!
6. Be often examining your growth in this grace. As my head hits the pillow.
7. Delight in the company of meek persons. So grateful for the meek, quiet friends God has given me.
8. Study the cross of our Lord Jesus. Who, when insulted, opened not his mouth.
9. Converse much in thoughts with the grave. Death will quiet us shortly; let grace quiet us now. (p. 143)
|“Patient and meek beneath affliction’s rod,
And why her faith and hope were fixed on God.”
-Engraving on tombstone of Bridget Kilroy,
who died in 1848 at age 50 in County Clare, Ireland