Put on Meekness
1. Paul has been exhorting the believers in Colossae to a worthy walk on the BASIS of their worthy position in Christ.
2. He reminded them that their old man has already been PUT OFF the moment they trusted Christ (3:9).
3. He reminds them that the new man has already been PUT ON the moment they trusted Christ (3:10).
4. Then, on that basis, he proceeds to encourage them to PUT ON for themselves garments FITTING such a glorious new position.
a. They themselves were to PUT OFF the old, dirty clothes they used to wear (vs. 8-9a)
b. They were also to PUT ON new, clean clothing fitting for a new man in Christ (vs. 12…)
c. In the last few weeks in Colossians we discussed putting on kindness, mercy, and humbleness of mind.
d. This morning we want to consider the exhortation to put on meekness… another fresh, clean article of clothing worthy of a new creature in Christ.
MEEKNESS DEFINED AND DESCRIBED
A. Meekness Defined
1. Strong’s: gentleness, mildness,
2. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: “mild and gentle friendliness,” is the opposite of roughness, of bad temper, or of sudden anger.
a. Not in a man’s outward behavior only, nor in his relations to his fellow man or his mere natural disposition.
b. Rather, it is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the expressions of it are primarily toward God.
c. It is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character.
4. Trench: That temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.
5. Meekness is NOT the result of weakness.
a. We often think of meekness as a Melba Milk toast kind of temperament… someone who is overly shy, timid, afraid to speak up, afraid of his own shadow, soft spoken, bashful, inhibited, and introverted. That is NOT the meaning of this term.
b. In fact, meekness is strength under control! Meekness is not weakness. It is an inner strength of character that enables a person to restrain self.
c. Example: A soft answer turns away wrath.
• A weak person gives a soft answer out of fear, intimidation, shyness, or even cowardice. His soft answer is due to personal weakness. He is spineless.
• A meek person gives a soft answer out of strength. He possesses the boldness, and the strength to retort sharply, but out of strength of character, he chooses NOT to. He CHOOSES to answer softly… His softness is strength under control.
• Outwardly, a weak person and a meek person might appear to be the same, but they are not.
• Unfortunately, we usually judge by outward appearance. God sees the heart… the inner man.
6. II Tim. 2:24-25 – (compare gentle and meekness) –
a. Expositors says that gentle (vs. 24) implies gentleness in outward demeanor.
b. Meekness (vs. 25) speaks of a gentleness of inward disposition.
c. Of course it is possible to have a meek and gentle OUTWARD demeanor, and to be snarling and resisting on the inside… not a meek disposition.
d. Just as there can be a false humility, there is also a false meekness… that is on the outside only and does not correspond to a gentle, meekness on the inside. That is hypocrisy… a façade.
e. Think of the sweet little old lady who has such a meek way about her… but on the inside she roars in defiance against God!
f. Then there is the case of the rough and brazen truck driver with a gravely voice and coarse mannerisms… but he MELTS in submission whenever God’s Word speaks to his heart! No one would ever think of this guy as being meek… but God does. It is the inward work of the Holy Spirit, not a natural temperament.
g. Or the case of the loud talkative woman with a naturally loud voice and loud laugh whose natural temperament is not at all shy.
• She is often criticized by the ladies in the church because she doesn’t fit their concept of a “meek and quiet spirit.”
• But a meek and quiet spirit does not refer to a NATURAL temperament… or personality… but the inward spirit—that God conscious part of man.
• A meek and quiet spirit is what she is before GOD, not men.
• That same woman who seems so bold and loud before men may like the truck driver absolutely MELT before God… bow in surrender to Him and His Word… meekly willing to receive His correction… His instruction… His will.
• That’s meekness. It is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, a gentle spirit that bows before God… not a natural disposition or temperament before men.
• A woman who outwardly speaks with a quiet tone of voice to men, and has a naturally meek temperament may be anything BUT meek on the inside!
• Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t confuse natural temperament with supernatural fruit of the Spirit.
• Many unsaved folks have the natural temperament of what we call meekness… not one ounce of which was produce by the Holy Spirit.
• God sees the heart and HE alone is the Judge of who is and who is not MEEK before Him.
7. Gal. 5:23 – it is the fruit of the Spirit.
a. Meekness is not something that we can conjure up ourselves.
b. It is NOT a personality trait… it’s not a natural temperament of an individual.
c. In our flesh dwells no good thing…
d. It is supernatural… the work of GOD in our hearts.
e. Only a Spirit filled believer can be MEEK in this sense.
f. Every other form of meekness (in the eyes of the world) is man made… the work of the religious and moral flesh, but NOT the work of God.
g. True meekness is the work of the Holy Spirit reproducing the life and character of Christ in and through us… it is HIS meekness manifested in our mortal bodies!
h. It has nothing to do with personality or natural temperament.
i. That’s how we usually judge meekness—by that which is outward—when true meekness is inward before God.
j. Meekness is not a quality we should try to conjure up in the flesh. Rather, it is what the Holy Spirit will produce in us as we yield to Him.
k. When it is genuine, it is the fruit of the SPIRIT, not the fruit of our own efforts.
l. All the flesh can produce is an superficial outward show of meekness in the sight of men…
THE MEEKNESS OF CHRIST
A. Meekness Before the Father
1. Matt. 11:29 – Jesus was MEEK and lowly in heart (same two terms as Paul uses in Col. 3:12 – humbleness of mind and meekness).
2. Matt. 21:5 – He presented Himself as Messiah in meekness.
a. It was predicted that when the Messiah came, it would be in meekness… not in a violent revolution… not with an army poised for war…
b. He stood in stark contrast to the Zealots of the first century.
c. He could easily have come with the armies of heaven and waged a war… but He chose to come in meekness.
3. Matt. 5:3 – He taught about the blessedness of meekness as a quality of life that should characterize those who anticipated the coming Kingdom: Blessed are the meek.
a. Just as Jesus taught that childlike humility is greatness in the coming Kingdom.
b. Here He teaches that meekness is blessed in the kingdom… and is a quality of life that will characterize the godly in the coming Kingdom.
c. Paul tells us in Colossians that we too as Christians should value and PUT ON meekness!
4. Remember the definition of meekness:
a. It is an inwrought grace of the soul, a gentleness primarily toward God.
b. It is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us.
c. Meekness is strength under control! Meekness is not weakness.
5. Christ was meek before His Father… and meekly surrendered Himself to His Father’s will… regardless of the cost.
a. John 18:3-13a – Perhaps the best example of meekness is found in the account of the Lord Jesus being taken away by the Roman soldiers.
• His was infinite strength under control.
• He spoke and the soldiers fell to the crowd.
• He could have called 10,000 angels.
• He didn’t put up a fight. The only one he opposed was Peter who was trying to fight the soldiers.
• In meekness Christ surrendered to the soldiers, but NOT because He was weak or overpowered, but because He was inwardly surrendered to His Father’s will.
• It was His Father’s will for Him to be taken away to suffer the awful death of the cross.
• Christ did not go kicking and screaming.
• He did not put up a fight.
• He restrained His infinite power and willingly gave Himself over to the soldiers—in pure meekness.
b. Isa. 53:7 – He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
• Before the judges, Christ opened not His mouth—not because He couldn’t think of anything to say… or because He was afraid to speak up! He opened not His mouth in meekness… because He knew they would not hear… and because He knew the cross was His Father’s will.
• Christ was omnipotent, yet He willingly allowed mere mortals to lead Him to the slaughter of the cross.
• He went with these soldiers, not because He lacked the strength, opportunity, or ability to escape… but He in meekness RESTRAINED omnipotence for the good of others.
• He restrained omnipotence because He fully accepted the circumstances as being ordained of the Father.
• Are we meek? DO we accept the circumstances of life God has put on our plate?
c. I Peter 2:21-23 – Christ’s example of meekness.
• He did not sin, and was suffering for righteousness sake.
• He was reviled (reproached) and suffered… yet in perfect control… He restrained his power to strike back… that’s meekness.
• He is our example of meekness too.
• The next time someone strikes out at you… remember meekness.
• The next time someone lashes out at you with their tongue… open not your mouth…
• The next time someone seeks to draw you into an argument… be conscious of God… and in meekness surrender to God’s will…
• Any fool can strike back.
• But it takes strength of character—an inner Holy Spirit produces strength to restrain the power of the fist or the tongue… and respond in a soft answer.
d. Remember the definitions of meekness:
• It is a condition of mind and heart, which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power.
• That temper of spirit in which accepts God’s dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.
• The next time God allows unpleasant circumstances for you to have to deal with… accept God’s will in meekness… thank Him for what He seeks to do IN you through it… and surrender like putty in His hands.
• That is true strength of character…
• Oh that that kind of meekness would be seen in us!
• This is the work of the Holy Spirit that should characterize our lives as we, like branches, abide in Christ the Vine.
• HIS character will be manifested through us…
• More like the Savior, I would ever be. More of His meekness, more humility!
e. Christ was the perfect example of meekness… a meekness before His Father and His Father’s will for His life.
B. BOLDNESS toward men.
a. Matt. 3:7 – He stingingly called the Pharisees “vipers.”
b. Matt. 23:13 – He referred to the religious leaders as hypocrites.
c. John 2:15 – and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables.
d. John 8:44 – He said of the religious leaders: Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do!
e. When it came to accepting abuse against Himself, he meekly submitted. But He boldly stood up for His Father’s house… and the truth.
2. Christ was always meek before His Father… He was putty in His Father’s hands. But He was not always meek towards men.
a. And that is the way we should be too.
3. Meekness towards God is a fruit of the Spirit.
a. Spirit filled men will always be meek towards God and His will.
b. Spirit filled men will always meekly submit to the circumstances of life God has ordained for us… as Christ did to His… even to the death of the cross.
4. But Spirit filled men are NOT always meek towards men.
a. Acts 4:8-13 – In fact, Spirit filled men prayed and God granted them BOLDNESS towards men! Peter was BOLD towards men.
b. Acts 4:29-31 – they prayed for boldness towards men and God granted it to them!
5. There are times to be meek towards men and there are times when boldness is needed.
a. But we should ALWAYS be meek towards God.
b. Christ was meek towards His Father’s will… and bold towards men. So were His students… the disciples.
WHEN MEEKNESS IS ESPECIALLY NEEDED IN OUR LIVES
1. The Bible uses the term “meekness” in several different contexts, and each context gives us a different REALM in which meekness is needed.
2. There are 5 specific circumstances in which meekness needs to be displayed. We will see how many we can look at this morning.
A. When facing conviction from God.
1. Jas. 1:21 – We are to be MEEK when confronted directly by the Word of God.
a. James says that we are to receive the Word of God with all meekness.
b. Reading God’s Word daily puts us in contact with God and His will daily.
c. Sometimes the light of God’s Word shines in our hearts and points out the dirt.
d. Meekness RESPONDS to God’s Word in humble submission… with no arguments and no excuses.
e. Sometimes a message from God’s Word in Sunday school or in the church services… or on the radio might prick your heart and call attention to an area that needs change.
f. Meekness is an inner attitude of gentleness towards God… no resistance… no battle… no struggle… just meekly RECEIVING the Word.
g. Meekly receiving the Word causes this response: Yes, Lord.
2. Sometimes God uses His Word directly to speak to us, and sometimes He uses people to speak to our hearts…
a. However God chooses to speak to us, He expects us to RECEIVE His word in all meekness…
b. Consider the example of David…
• David was a brave soldier… a mighty warrior, but he was MEEK before God.
• This doesn’t mean that David was perfect or sinless… but when he DID sin, he responded in meekness to the Word of God.
• He received the Word in all meekness.
3. II Sam. 16:11 – David dealt with INSULT in meekness.
a. II Sam. 16:5-8 – SHIMEI insults the king publicly and throws stones at him!
b. Shimei was a Benjamite – the tribe of king Saul.
c. The nation had experienced a bloody civil war… and this man cannot accept the fact that David will reign as king.
d. He comes running alongside the king, insulting him and hurling stones… a form of suicide.
e. Vs. 9- one of David’s soldiers awaits instruction to cut off his head.
f. David had plenty of power to kill this man… but restrained himself…
g. David put the whole situation in perspective. He knew the frustration of this man…
h. David also recognized the voice of God in this man’s cursing… to humble David…
i. David saw God working in his life through this whole situation… and didn’t want to hinder God’s work.
j. David meekly submitted to God’s dealing with him in his life.
k. And how many other times did David have the POWER to lash out at his enemies, but in meekness he restrained his power… that’s meekness!
l. How do WE respond to rebuke from God? Do WE listen? Do WE meekly submit to His working in our lives through insult?
m. OR do we demonstrate a weakness of character and lash out at those who insult us?
4. I Sam. 24:3-7 – David meekly refuses to seek REVENGE.
a. Consider Saul in the cave at Addulam.
b. Saul entered the cave alone… a cave in which David and his men were hiding!
c. Vs. 4 – David’s bodyguards were drooling over the opportunity kill Saul.
d. Then David, at their coaxing, cut a button off Saul’s garment… without Saul knowing it.
e. Vs. 5 – But even this tiny act caused David to be convicted… because he was MEEK before God… and thus sensitive to God and God’s Word.
f. God’s Word said NOT to seek the harm of the Lord’s anointed… one ruling in the position of King…
g. David COULD have killed the man who was seeking to kill him, and would have been justified in the eyes of men.
h. But in meekness before God, he submitted to God’s will. “I will not touch the Lord’s anointed.”
i. That is pure meekness… power under control!
j. It is the strength of character that refuses to seek revenge.
5. I Sam. 25:13-17 – David demonstrated meekness in controlling his ANGER.
a. After David and his men risked their lives to protect the region, the fool Nabal would not help him or his soldiers.
b. Nabal insulted the king and his men. (vs. 10-11)
c. At first, David was not very meek. He was furious and ready to fight. (vs. 21-22)
d. Then Abigail explained to David that Nabal was a fool… a man cannot speak to him.? (vs. 25, 28-31)
e. Neither Nabal NOR David showed meekness at first.
f. But at least David was willing to listen, give up his anger and pride, and meekly submit to the wisdom of Abigail. (vs. 32-35)
g. He had the power to destroy Nabal—and in the eyes of most men, justification for it.
h. But David was meek before God… he restrained his strength for the glory of God.
i. David began to become angry… but restrained his anger in meekness to the wisdom of God that came to him through Abigail.
j. David did not want to tarnish the reputation of God…
k. In meekness, he humbled himself, changed his mind, admitted before his men he was wrong, and demonstrated meekness… the POWER to restrain anger.
l. A soft answer turns away wrath. But it takes strength to respond with a soft answer.
m. Do WE have the inner Holy Spirit produced strength to restrain anger? Even when we think our anger is justified?
6. II Sam. 12:13 – David deals with the embarrassment of being CAUGHT IN SIN in meekness.
a. David had clearly sinned against God. He committed adultery with Bathsheba.
b. For over a year, God was dealing with David… making life miserable for him. (That’s what happens when a son of God disobeys his heavenly Father!)
c. God sent the prophet Nathan to David with a message to convict his heart: THOU art the man.
d. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.”
e. David meekly submitted to God’s dealing with him concerning his sin with Bathsheba.
f. He did not make excuses. He did not seek to justify himself.
g. As king he could easily have had the prophet executed. Other kings did! (Ahab had Michaiah put in prison!)
h. Not David. He opened not his mouth except to say, “I have sinned.”
i. In meekness, he received the Word… even though it brought great conviction and grief to his heart.
j. He accepted God’s prophetic word against him. That’s meekness.
k. David, who was bold as a lion before Goliath, was MEEK as a lamb before his God.
l. When God’s Word came to David, he melted. That’s meekness.
m. Meekness is needed in receiving God’s Word.
• Sometimes it HURTS… it is painful to see ourselves as God sees us… in all our sin.
• But God resists the proud who refuse to acknowledge their sin.
• But He does lift up the meek and humble.
• Meekness is greatness in the Kingdom of Christ. It is not considered greatness in the kingdoms of the world today… but it SHOULD be considered great among God’s people in the church today!
7. It takes great strength of character… to demonstrate meekness in the face of insult, rebuke, situations where we might otherwise seek revenge, circumstances that arouse anger in us.
a. This kind of inner strength will never come to us by mere human effort.
b. It is our NATURE to lash back… with our fist or our tongue… or to hold grudges… or to become bitter… cold and hard.
c. But when we yield to God… surrender to Him and His will, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: meekness!
d. When that is the case, we are growing in the knowledge of Christ… more like our Savior.
e. He was meek and lowly in heart… when insulted in evilly treated, He opened not His mouth. He had the power to lash back… but submitted to His Father’s will…
f. May we all be more like the Savior… more of His meekness, more humility.
IF YOU ARE NOT SAVED…
1. Come to the One who is meek and lowly in heart, and He will give you rest… the rest of eternal life! (Matt. 11:29)
B. The tragedy of a man without meekness before God.
1. A man who cannot control his strength is weak indeed! (Prov. 25:28… no rule over his own spirit…)
C. When facing opposition to doctrine.
1. II Tim. 2:25 – teachers are to instruct those who oppose in meekness.
2. In the Lord’s work, in the local church, there will be from time to time, those who oppose the teaching of Scriptures… this doctrine or that doctrine.
3. Paul writes to Timothy to warn him to instruct those folks in MEEKNESS.
a. Paul also said, “?These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” (Titus 2:15)
b. Lest Timothy, functioning as a pastor in Ephesus should take this as a green light to be pushy, demanding, abrasive, and rude in dealing with those who oppose, Paul tells Timothy to instruct in MEEKNESS.
c. The scene Paul describes here seems to be a one-on-one situation… not preaching before a congregation.
d. If an individual doesn’t want to listen to the truth, increasing the volume doesn’t help.
e. Insulting the PERSON doesn’t help. Ridiculing his beliefs doesn’t help.
f. Truth doesn’t need our help. Just teach it… in a Christlike spirit of gentleness and meekness.
g. The power is the WORD of God, not in the presentation.
4. I have heard fundamentalists teach in an abrasive manner… rudely ridiculing the opposition… attacking their character… etc.
a. We need to point out error.
b. We need to point out those promoting error.
c. But the MANNER in which it is done is also important.
d. In MEEKNESS instructing those who oppose.
e. Don’t argue. Don’t fight. Don’t be abusive or abrasive.
f. In teaching God’s Word, we are to be gentlemanly and courteous.
g. In attempting to communicate truth, our BEHAVIOR and DEMEANOR are important parts of that communication process.
h. Speak the truth, but speak the truth in love… and in meekness.
• Some weeks back there was a radical group of protesters from a church in Kansas that came to Massachusetts to protest the marriage.
• While their message had an element of truth in it, their outlandish approach undermined the message they tried to communicate.
• They spoke the truth, but were a disgrace to the cause of Christ. (shouting; insulting; using derogatory, offensive, inflammatory terms, etc.)
• They certainly were NOT instructing the opposition in meekness!
D. When facing believers in need of rebuke.
1. II Cor. 10:1 – Paul exhorted the Corinthians in the MEEKNESS of Christ.
a. Christ’s meekness in Paul was expressed to those in Corinth who needed rebuke.
b. Paul had some difficult issues to deal with in Corinth.
c. Vs. 2 – He besought them (to make a request, ask as an inferior of a superior). The great apostle humbly and meekly pleaded with them to repent…
d. He much preferred meekness over the rod.
2. I Cor. 4:21 – What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
a. Paul asked them to think about the manner in which he should approach them as their apostle: with a rod or in meekness?
b. Obviously, they would prefer meekness. So would Paul.
c. Note also that he possessed the strength, boldness, and authority to use the rod.
d. Meekness was strength under control.
e. Paul meekly sought to restrain the use of the rod… he sought to restrain the application of his apostolic authority.
f. He never sought to throw his weight around. “Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” (I Thess. 2:6) That’s meekness.
g. Admittedly, sometimes I get frustrated with people. You FEEL like using a 2×4 on the back of somebody’s head. But Christlike meekness is a much more godly and effective approach.
3. Gal. 6:1 – since it is a fruit of the Spirit, it enables the Christian to correct the erring brother without arrogance, impatience, or anger.
a. Paul speaks of a situation where a brother has been overtaken in a fault… a sin.
b. This is not a premeditated plan, but rather an instance where the brother, in a moment of spiritual weakness, let his guard down, and stumbled into sin.
c. Those who are spiritually minded are to come to the aid of that brother… and RESTORE him. (Mend as a broken limb or a broken net.)
d. Paul emphasizes the ATTITUDE that should characterize a Spirit filled man: meekness!
e. The restoration process is to occur in an atmosphere of meekness… the spiritually strong brother realizing—but for the grace of God, there go I!
f. He is not to beat up the brother, scold, ridicule, or kick. He is to restore… and to do so in meekness!
g. There might be a lot of things you COULD say… there may be a lot of verses you COULD use to really make him feel bad…
h. If the brother WANTS to be restored, you don’t threaten him with the rod.
i. The purpose is not to keep him down. The purpose is to build him up… to restore such a one!
j. But restoration and help can be offered in a variety of atmospheres: coldness (I told you so!)… guilt (thou shalt not!)… OR in meekness (You know brother, I used to have the same sin problem… and here’s how the Lord gave me victory…)
E. When facing persecution from the world
1. I Pet. 3:14-15 – even in times of persecution, we are to answer our persecutors in meekness.
a. When persecution strikes, our natural inclination is to strike back… or to cower away in fear.
b. Peter tells us to do neither.
c. We are NOT to fear or cower before our adversaries. They were not to be troubled.
d. Nor are we to strike back in defiance.
e. Rather, we are to demonstrate meekness and fear: before God.
• And remember – they were specifically told NOT to fear men.
• But they were to fear God… and to be meek before God.
• In boldness they were to speak up before men at the appropriate time.
• Meekness before God—receiving His Word—would give them boldness before men.
f. Meekness before God… and appropriate boldness before men is part of our witness for Christ.
F. When facing an unsaved spouse
1. I Pet. 3:4 – a meek and quiet spirit should characterize the godly woman.
2. Notice that the woman’s adornment is a meek and quiet spirit… (not necessarily a quiet voice)… but the INNER MAN of the heart is MEEK.
a. Her CLOTHING is meekness…
b. She is to PUT ON the garment of meekness… and wear it around the house.
c. Her beauty does not lie in her outward appearance so much as her inner beauty: a meek and quiet spirit.
d. And note also that Peter says this meekness and quietness is a beauty “in God’s sight” of great price.
e. A woman who is MEEK before God will be submissive before her husband… and loving, gracious, and will show him reverence.
f. A woman with a meek and quiet spirit knows how to be still before God… she has learned to be still and know that HE is God… and that God can do ANYTHING.
g. In that condition she is best suited to deal with her husband… and perhaps lead him to the Lord… as he is attracted to her inner beauty…
G. When facing daily life! Meekness should characterize the Christian life.
1. Eph. 4:2 – it is characteristic of a worthy walk.
2. Titus 3:2 – meekness is to be shown towards ALL men… (since we are to be filled with the Spirit at all times)
3. I Tim. 6:11 – meekness is to be pursued by the man of God.
4. Jas. 3:13 – our works should be characterized by “meekness of wisdom.”
H. The tragedy of a man without meekness before God.
1. A man who cannot control his strength is weak indeed! (Prov. 25:28… no rule over his own spirit…)