Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. – Matthew 11:28-29
1 Peter 3:3-4
3 Don’t be concerned about the external adornment . . .
4 but let it be the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a meek and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.
Modern Western culture does not generally see meekness as a virtue. While the Greek words for meekness and humility are distinct, many modern translations replace the noun “meekness” with “humility” or “gentleness.”
A few centuries back, this was not the case. Meekness was considered a central and foundational spiritual virtue. “Meekness is calm confidence, settled assurance, and rest of the soul. It is the tranquil stillness of a soul that is at rest in Christ. It is the place of peace. Meekness springs from a heart of humility, radiating the fragrance of Christ” (Matthew Henry). “The person who bears and suffers evils with meekness and silence is the sum of a Christian man” (Charles Wesley).
What is meekness? “Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. This word was used to describe a soothing wind, a healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. In each instance, there is power . . . But this power is under control” (Wiersbe).
When wild animals are tamed, they are brought under control. They do not lose their power, but their independent and destructive instincts are restrained. They learn to accept control. Their natural tendency of “fight or flight” is mediated. Tame animals lose their fear of people.
Parrots in the wild, are skittish. When people come on the scene, parrots depart and seek safety. Parrots born in captivity, that are hand raised, are totally different. They have no fear of people and are comfortable with them. They desire to be with those that are closest to them. They develop love and affection for them and learn to enjoy their touch and “friendship.”
“Meekness recognizes that the Father is in control and whatever is going on, as part of a larger plan. All of us need rest, and Jesus promises to give it to us when we find our rest in Him. He will not scold us for being weak or scorn us for being foolish. He promises to gently and humbly refresh our weary souls” (Stanley).
Father I long to be tamed by You. For me, “power under control,” is a work in progress. A painfully slow work.
All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). Further, all authority to execute judgment has been granted to Him by the Father (John 5:27). He is not weak, but rather all-powerful. Yet, all of His power and authority are perfectly under control.
The Lord Jesus Christ self-identified Himself as being meek. In fact, He was the epitome of meekness.
Matthew 11:29 Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.
The Lord Jesus Christ considered meekness one of His more attractive and desirable features. His appeal for others to come and approach Him rested upon His meekness. He is safe. No one need fear shaming or recrimination. They will be gently and kindly received. He will accommodate Himself to their burdened and heavy souls. The Lord Jesus Christ will tenderly and affectionately meet people where they are.
The Greek word translated meek is praus. Praus can be summarized in one phrase, power under control. When referring to animals an appropriate translation would be tame. The word praus connotes a subtle and unique blend of strength and poise. Meekness is a quality of gentle friendliness and consideration that accommodates to another’s weakness (Friberg).
The general connotation of praus is “controlled power” (Friberg), “strong but accommodating.” No one English word adequately translates it. Perhaps gentle or mild come closest. Meekness rests upon of calm, cool, serene inward strength.
A lioness with her cubs provides a perfect word picture of meekness. Visualize the way the lioness gently picks up her cubs and moves them from location to location. She is firm but gentle. She has the power to crush, but never does. She models patient self-control.
Proverbs 16:32 Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
When difficult times come, over which we have no control or influence, how do we react? After we recognize what is happening, how do we respond? One option is servile resignation, passive and resigned submission. C-3PO of Star Wars fame had many one-liners indicating his fatalistic acquiescence. For example: “We’re doomed.” “We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life.” “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.” “Help. I think I’m melting. This is all your fault.”
Meekness reacts in a totally different way. Meekness provides a measured, active, and deliberate acceptance of difficult conditions. Meekness is possible because of our confidence and trust in the Father’s goodness and control of the situation.
But there is more.
“No man can lead others until he has mastered himself; no man can serve others until he has subjected himself; no man can be in control of others until he has learned to control himself. But the man who gives himself into the complete control of God will gain this meekness” (Barclay).
Given the opportunity, the Father will tame each of His children. “Meekness is the mark of a man who has been mastered by God” (Geoffrey B. Wilson).