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Sabbath School Lessons on Fruit of the Spirit
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: The Fruit of the Spirit is Meekness *
Introduction: Raspberries are my favorite fruit. Although I like all
common fruits, I faintly recall an exotic fruit I did not like
because of its bitter taste. If I had to rank the fruits of the
Spirit, meekness would not be my raspberries! Consider Jesus'
statement in Matthew 5:5 that the meek will inherit the earth. How
can that be right? I thought it was the aggressive and hard-working
who were successful. I've never read a self-help book that suggested
meekness as the road to success. A further problem with the idea of
being meek is that most translations (including the NIV) translate
the Greek as "gentleness," rather than meekness. What does it mean
to be "meek" when dealing with the world? What does it mean to be
"meek" when dealing with fellow Christians? Let's explore these
mysteries and this unpopular fruit by diving into our study of the
- A Meek God?
- Read Matthew 11:28-30. We have examined this text several
times during this series of studies. The word the NIV
translates as "gentle" is translated as "meek" in other
Bibles. Does meek look good here? Would you prefer to
have Jesus use a different term? (I like gentle or meek
here, because Jesus is dealing with me!)
- One commentator wrote "Meekness is the absolute
ceasing to fight for our agenda and believing that
God will fight on our behalf for His." What do you
think about that statement? (My first reaction was,
"That's crazy!" My next reaction was, "If our
agenda is not God's agenda, I guess this makes
- What if we are trying to make God's agenda our
agenda - should we stop fighting?
- Notice that Matthew 11:29 offers "rest" for our
souls. What does this suggest about learning
gentleness (meekness) from Jesus? (That this
fruit of the Spirit is the key to rest. It is a
lot easier to rest if we are not fighting!)
- The text suggests that Jesus' meekness makes
our life better. How? (We discussed the idea of
Jesus being gentle with us, but Jesus says
"learn from Me." There is something about the
meekness of Jesus that will improve our life.
Let's turn to that next.)
- A Meek You?
- Read Ephesians 4:1-3. Recently, I read a blog attacking
my church. The writer claimed to have been a member of
the church, but I noticed that the writer always made an
error in writing the name of the church. I wrote a
response saying essentially "If you do not even know how
to write the name of the church, how can you claim to
know enough to criticize it?" My "meek and humble"
message: you are an ignorant dolt. The blog author wrote
an angry response and the whole endeavor was likely a
complete waste of time.
- What kind of approach would Ephesians 4:1-3 suggest
when someone who attacks your religious beliefs or
- What if you are dealing with ignorant dolts, and
your thinking is much sharper than the that of the
people attacking your beliefs? How does that fit
with the instruction to be "completely humble?" (If
you are thinking you are a lot smarter, that is not
a completely humble attitude, right?)
- The easy thing is just to ignore people who are
annoyingly wrong. How does that fit the direction to
be "bearing with one another in love?" (Some
judgment is called for here in "bearing" with
others. While ignoring someone is often an insult,
sometimes that is the only way to avoid an
unproductive dispute. We need to decide what would
- Does Ephesians 4:3 give me an excuse for my blog
behavior since we are called to be humble, gentle
and loving with fellow members? People who attack
the church and pagans in the world had better watch
- Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. Who is being answered here - a
church member or the world? (The world!)
- How does this suggest that we should answer? (With
gentleness (meekness) and respect!)
- How does Peter suggest that the world will treat us?
(They will be malicious, but we should respond in a
gentle way. The idea is that our gentle answer will
cause them to be ashamed of their maliciousness.)
- Read 2 Timothy 2:22-26. In this text are we dealing with
people who know the truth and are logical? (No. These are
people who do not know the truth and who engage is
foolish and stupid arguments. These are ignorant people
who are not too bright. They make ridiculous arguments.)
- What kind of approach should we take with them?
(Gentle instruction. Meek instruction!)
- How can you win any arguments this way? How can you
show them how stupid, ignorant and ridiculous they
are? (Notice verse 25, God grants them repentance.
These texts have opened up my eyes about how I've
been missing the mark! My goal has been to show how
the pagan's position is illogical and silly. Any
reasonable person should laugh at their ideas. But
the idea that I can win their heart and mind by
making them look foolish is much like the idea that
I can earn my own salvation.)
- Recall that we started with Matthew 11:29 which said that
if we learned meekness and humility from Jesus we would
have rest? Think about the last time you got into a
heated debate about your faith. Did you experience rest?
(I get annoyed when someone attacks Christianity or my
specific faith. However, if I lob a "logic grenade" back,
and they return with any angry response, I'm more
agitated then if I just read the attack and did nothing.)
- The Inheritance of the Meek
- Read Philippians 2:5-7. Why do you think Jesus came to
earth and made Himself "nothing?" He had all the right
and authority to at least come as royalty! (Read Hebrews
4:15-16. Jesus came to earth in such a way that none of
us can say that He had some earthly advantage over us.)
- Read Philippians 2:8. When I think of being meek, I think
of giving up my right to be respected. Is this what Jesus
did? (Certainly some people did not treat Jesus with
respect, but I don't think that was His goal. Instead,
His goal was to be like us - not to have the advantages
of wealth, position, and power that the average person
does not have. Hebrews emphasizes the idea that Jesus
experienced what we experience.)
- How do we apply this concept to our life?(When we
argue and defend the faith from the point of view of
superiority: that the other side is stupid, ignorant
and evil, we take a much different approach than
that of Jesus when He came to earth.)
- Read Philippians 2:9-11. When we started out in this
lesson, I pointed out that no self-help book that I know
about argues that we should be meek to win. Yet, Jesus
says in Matthew 5:5 that the meek will inherit the earth.
How did that happen for Jesus? (God the Father intervened
and makes things right.)
- Read Psalms 37:7-11. How does this suggest that the meek
will inherit the earth? (God wins their battle. He
destroys the wicked. Only the meek are left standing.)
- What About Defenders?
- Should we just meekly accept whatever unjust thing takes
place on earth? Read Psalms 82:3-4 and Matthew 5:38-42.
Can you reconcile those two texts? Should we ignore the
Old Testament text on the basis that it has been
superceded? (The two texts can be reconciled. One speaks
of standing up for your own rights, and the other speaks
of standing up for the rights of others who need help. If
I am not right on this, then I need to quit my law job
defending the little guy.)
- Friend, do you need to change how you relate to those who
attack and make fun of you and your faith? I have
definitely been convinced by this study that I need to
change my aggressive approach in defending the gospel. I
see now that the idea that we can beat the enemies of the
gospel into submission by our own skill is all vanity and
arrogance. God, alone, can change hearts. Will you join
me in a renewed effort to ask the Holy Spirit to give us
a meek and gentle attitude?
- Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Self-Control.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.