Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (Literally meekness), self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Meekness is a very misunderstood and misused word. Some people think meekness means being a pushover and never speaking up. Others think meekness means being shy or timid. We know neither of these are true, because Jesus called Himself meek in Matthew 11:29. Jesus was never shy, and He was never quiet in the face of wickedness. If there’s one thing we know for sure, Jesus was never afraid of offending people!
Misunderstanding meekness isn’t a new thing. Even in Jesus’ day this characteristic was confusing people. The Greek word for meekness - “praotēs” - is considered to be one of the more untranslatable words in the Greek language. Even when Greek was the common language, praotēs was something that was despised and rejected as weakness.
So what does it mean? What is this fruit of meekness that the Holy Spirit produces in our life?
Let’s get this misconception out of the way first; meekness does not mean you’re passive toward evil! Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was meek, but he personally gave the order to execute every idolater that worshipped the golden calf. Jesus called Himself meek and He beat the corrupt merchants in the temple with a whip....twice! Paul was a meek man (he was even picked on because of it - 2 Corinthians 10:10), but he commanded that a church turn one of their own over to Satan! True meekness doesn’t turn men into mice.
According to James Strong, “meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God's goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all.” Meekness is denying yourself. Real meekness is when you refuse to get angry because you’re not getting your way. It’s refusing the desire to “get back” at someone. When you’re meek, you lay down your self-righteousness and submit to whatever God has for you!
True meekness is described in Ephesians 4:1 - “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness (praotēs - meekness) and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” When you bear with someone’s flaws and faults, when you do everything you can to preserve unity, when you give up your right to be angry to preserve peace - that’s when you’re walking in true meekness.
What about when someone is obviously doing something wrong? Does meekness mean we can’t confront them? Not at all - it will often lead you to confront and correct. But when the fruit of meekness is in your life, it will change the reason you confront them.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 shows us the right attitude for correction in the body of Christ. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility (praotēs - meekness) correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
When you confront someone in meekness, it is never from a self-important or self-righteous standpoint. You confront that person in a spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1) to try and rescue them from what is going to hurt them. This is the attitude that Jesus had on the cross. As the priests, the jews and the Roman soldiers were crucifying Him - Jesus was only concerned about their spiritual well-being. His prayer was, “Father, forgive them...” Not once did Jesus assert His “rights.”
So being meek doesn’t mean you never get angry. In fact, Psalm 4:4 and Ephesians 4:26 tell us that there is a time to be angry (without sinning). But check your motives. Are you angry because of what they did to you? Are you really confronting a person in sin to help them - or are you trying to make yourself look righteous? Meekness, like every other fruit of the Spirit, has little to do with your actions and everything to do with your attitudes.