When you hear the word “meek,” what comes to mind? You’re probably thinking doormat. A guy who gets struck on the cheek and he’s too chicken to fight back so he turns and offers his other check. People have a notion that Christians are so wimpy.
A couple of weeks ago, I was making a left turn. My field of vision was blocked because the car opposite from me was also trying to make a left turn. And you know when you inch forward to make sure that there are no oncoming cars. Well, I stopped to let the cars pass and I ended up partially blocking the intersection.
And as a car was passing me, the driver must have been peeved that he had to veer around me. The driver’s window was down and so was mine and as he passed me, he shouted a racial slur. I don’t know if you’ve ever been the target of racism. If it were 20 years ago and I wasn’t a pastor, I might’ve done a 180 and gone after the guy. My whole reason to study taekwondo for 6 years during my junior high and high school years was to teach guys like that a lesson. In some sense, having a flare up and going after a guy like that is the easy thing to do. It’s natural. It’s somewhat justified. Ignorant people like that need to be taught a lesson. It’s 2012 and you’re still a racist? It’s easy to respond in anger. It’s far harder to hold your tongue and restrain your emotions and exercise self-control.
As a Christian, I can think I am really meek when everyone around me is nice to me and thinks well of me. But as soon as someone challenges me, that’s when the true test begins. And often, that’s when the gloves come out. When someone says, you’re a lousy pastor. The sermons are terrible. The people at your church are not welcoming. When this test comes, I can respond in 1 of 2 ways.
I can respond in anger. How dare you judge me? Do you know how many hours I prepare for my sermons each week? Do you know how many hours I prayed this past week? Do you have a seminary degree? Have you quit your job to serve God full-time? Do you know how many people I met last week? Do you know how late I’ve been staying up this week to catch up? You get the point. I can respond to criticism with anger and self-justification.
Or, I could say, you know what? You’re right. Even after this many years of being a Christian, I am not as mature as I ought to be. I know there are a bunch of churches even in our own area led by pastors who are more spiritual than I am. I know my sermons may be abstract and I’m sorry I’m not feeding you. That would be an entirely different response.
I ask you–which response is harder? Responding with anger or responding in meekness?
Responding meekly is infinitely harder. It requires self-death. It requires incredible self-control. It requires a tremendous amount of restraint over your emotions. It goes against our human instincts. Therefore, being meek is a sign of God’s activity in your life because you cannot generate meekness on your own. You don’t become humble by gritting your teeth and telling yourself over and over, be humble, be humble, I got to be humble. Humility doesn’t work that way.
In 1910, the London Times asked a number of authors to write on the topic “What’s wrong with the world?” G.K. Chesteron, one of my favorite Christian authors, submitted the shortest response:
“I am.” ~G.K. Chesterton [in response to the question, “What’s wrong with the world?”]
What’s wrong with the world? I am. That was Chesterton’s response–I am what’s wrong with the world. We can point to corrupt politicians, or power-hungry dictators, we can always point to problems outside of ourselves to explain away the condition of this world. Or we can point to ourselves. I AM what’s wrong with the world.
What’s wrong with the church? We can point to the leadership, the praise, the lack of programs, the lack of workers, or we can say, I am what’s wrong with the church. I don’t know Christ as I should. I don’t love him as I ought. I am far from being Christ-like in my character. I am still worldly. I AM what’s wrong with the church.
What’s wrong with my marriage? If we have a bad marriage, we can point the finger and put 100% of the blame on our spouse, or we can say, the biggest problem that I bring into this marriage is myself. My sin, my pride, my desire to be served rather than to serve, my moodiness. I AM what’s wrong with my marriage.
What’s wrong with our kids? We can complain and pin the blame on our kids for not turning out the way we wanted. My kids are too stubborn. They don’t listen. We can blame the church for not teaching them the Bible adequately. Or we can say, what’s wrong with our kids? I didn’t model Christ well to them. I wasn’t intentional about teaching them Scripture. I was too harsh. I lacked gentleness in raising them. They learned my bad habits. I AM what’s wrong with my kids.
When you experience relational conflict, or problems, what is your default response? Do you take personal responsibility or do you immediately find fault outside of yourself and pin all the blame on somebody else? How do you respond when you are criticized? If you respond to your critics with meekness, then you are truly meek. You’ve passed the test. Meekness is not something you can self-measure, or self-regulate, or self-generate. Only God can make you meek. Meekness is an observable trait in your relationships. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to respond to criticism with meekness.
Jesus is our ultimate example of meekness. He was not a doormat. He wasn’t afraid to condemn the legalism of the Pharisees who made faith in God into a list of rules. He wasn’t weak. He was the Son of God. One word and he could have wiped out the world.
In Matt 11:28-30, it reads,
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. He is meek. We need to learn from him how to be meek by coming to Jesus. Spending time with Jesus. Laying all your burdens down at the feet of Jesus. Yoking yourself and following Jesus. Then we will be like wild colts who have been tamed, bridled, reigned in by the Spirit. We can’t do it alone. We need divine help.
Ask people around you–would they say, you’re a meek person? Meekness is a sign of God’s blessing upon your life. The meek–not the strong, not the aggressive, not the harsh, nor the tyrannical–the meek will inherit the new heaven and the new earth that God is preparing for His children.