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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 Bible!

  1. A Meek God?

    1. 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!)

      1. 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 sense.")

        1. What if we are trying to make God's agenda our agenda - should we stop fighting?

        2. 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!)

        3. 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.)

  2. A Meek You?

    1. 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.

      1. What kind of approach would Ephesians 4:1-3 suggest when someone who attacks your religious beliefs or your church?

      2. 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?)

      3. 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 advance love.)

      4. 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 out!

    2. Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. Who is being answered here - a church member or the world? (The world!)

      1. How does this suggest that we should answer? (With gentleness (meekness) and respect!)

      2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. What kind of approach should we take with them? (Gentle instruction. Meek instruction!)

      2. 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.)

    4. 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.)

  3. The Inheritance of the Meek

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    3. 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.)

    4. 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.)

  4. What About Defenders?

    1. 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.)

    2. 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?

  5. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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