Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back to Basics -- Part 7

(This week we will continue our series on “The Fruit of the Spirit” with a discussion on the word “meekness,” which is the King James Version of the word “gentleness.”)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The word meekness is a very misunderstood word. The world has altered people’s perception of the true meaning of meekness. Today people associate the word meekness with weakness. However, meekness has nothing to do with weakness. If anything it takes a lot of strength to have a meek spirit.

Weakness is a negative trait, such as the lack of strength or the lack of courage. Meekness is a positive characteristic, because it is due to a person’s conscious choice. It is a person’s ability to exhibit controlled strength and courage and maintain gentleness towards people.

Meekness should be a normal part of a person’s Christian experience. Meekness means having a patient, gentle disposition. It also means having humble submissiveness to God’s will. The Bible contains many examples of people who exhibited such meekness.

Let’s examine three things regarding the fruit of meekness -- the meek learner, the meek leader, and the meek Lamb.

The Meek Learner

The pastor of our church has training sessions for the associate ministers who sit under his guidance. Occasionally he will have all of us take a particular section of scripture and create a sermon from it. The result is that none of the five or six messages that are written come out duplicating one another. It is amazing how one small section of scripture can inspire so many different sermons. Each sermon is scripturally correct, but God inspired each person in a different way.

Scripture tells us that we are all to be meek learners. What that means is that we should seek knowledge about God’s Word, but not with a “know it all” attitude. We need to be humble enough to admit that we can not possibly know it all when it comes to the Word of God.

We can read the Word, and study it, and read it again, but in the end we will usually discover that we have only scratched the surface of our understanding. God reveals His Truth to us in batches small enough for us to absorb in our spirit, but not so large that we are confused and overwhelmed.

James 1:21 reinforces the idea that we should receive God’s Word with meekness. It reads, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

James tells us that we should receive what God has to say to us with humility. Our fleshy nature may not want to agree with what God says to us, but we must understand that He knows best. We must be willing to push away our pride and face the fact that God’s way is the right way.

You see, meekness is the opposite of rebellion. It really does no good to rebel against God’s Word or His will. He has laid out all the dos and don’ts in His book, and when we refuse to follow his way we are actually declaring that we know better than God.

To receive God’s Word we must take it in like a deep breath. This calls for reading the Bible regularly and prayerfully. Most of us can not get a clear understanding of the Bible in one read. But, as we continually read our Bible things begin to click, the light bulb comes on in our head, and understanding replaces misunderstanding.

It is just as important that we hear the Bible on a continual basis. There are any number of ways to hear scripture. We can hear God’s Word in a church setting. We can turn on the radio or television to an inspirational channel. Or, we can buy the Bible on CD.

Of course, when we listen to the Word, we must listen with our heart. If we listen to the Word of God, but we do not listen with our heart, than the words will simple go in one ear and out the other. We must learn to shut out less important messages. We must learn to block out the worldly chatter that does not benefit us emotionally or spiritually.

Most importantly we need to be eager to do the will of God whatever the cost. That may mean developing some new habits, like turning off the television and replacing that time with reading God’s Word. All of these things are the mark of the meek learner.

The Meek Leader

The Bible provides us with many examples of people who showed the spirit of meekness. Numbers 12:3 tells us that “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

I know what you are probably thinking right now. It is surprising to think of Moses as meek, after all he is the man who stood toe to toe against Pharaoh, and he was the same man who delivered his people from slavery.

Once again the world has confused people about what makes a good leader. Leaders do not have to be dynamic. Moses was not a great speaker, but he was a mighty leader. Exodus 4:10 tells us that he was “slow of speech and tongue,” which hints that he may have had a stutter or a stammer. So, God appointed Moses to be his representative and Moses’ brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.

Leaders also do not have to be dictatorial. When Moses brought his people out of Egyptian captivity he did not did force them to obey him. Moses remained patient with the people when they began to complain about the harshness of their journey. Moses continued to pray for them even though they had forgotten the terrible trials of their Egyptian bondage and began speaking out against Moses.

Moses understood that it is human nature to complain when times are hard, so he easily forgave them for their complaints. Moses knew that God had many blessings in store for them once they got to the “land flowing with milk and honey.” Moses cared too much about his people to let them stop moving toward their blessings. That is what makes a good leader. A good leader isn’t a person who wants to dominate others and get all he can out of them. A good leader is someone who cares about his people and wants them to prosper.

Humility is more important than impressive credentials. Submission to God’s will is more important than public relations. Are you a good leader?

The Meek Lamb

Jesus was the supreme example of meekness. He admitted so in Matthew 11:29, where he said “I am meek.” John 1:29 tells us that Jesus was the Lamb of God. What could be meeker than a lamb?

Jesus was quick to tell people of the importance of being meek. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had much to say about being meek. He said: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). God wants meek leaders in charge.

Jesus showed his meekness by not resisting crucifixion. He knew the ultimate purpose for his life and he was obedient to our Father’s will. He willingly became the sacrificial lamb. Luke 22:40 records this willingness to obey when in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Moses showed his meekness by loving his people so much that he refused to allow them to quit their journey and return to captivity. Jesus showed his meekness by loving us so much that he gave his life to secure our redemption. We have been forgiven, cleansed and justified by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Bearing the Fruit Called Meekness

I’m getting ready to close, but I want you to think more about this fruit called “meekness.” We have seen how we are to be meek learners. We looked at examples of how a leader can be meek. And, we have learned how Jesus was the supreme example of meekness. Try and find ways that you can start exhibiting this important characteristic in your life.

Now I want to ask you something. “Are you always demanding your own way? Do you have trouble getting along with others? Do you get angry when things don’t go your way?

If you answered yes to any of those things, than you may need to start practicing meekness. Pray to God to help you develop meekness in your life. He will produce the meekness of Jesus in you.

Next week we will conclude our series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Until then, may God bless you!

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