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What does it mean to be meek?

January 17, 2018

        Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls, Matthew 11:29.  "Meek" is one of those words which when examined in each of its usages, and in each context, yields a consistent meaning.  It is one of those words that Noah Webster comes close to grasping, but doesn't quite get it. In regards to Matthew 11:29, Webster says; 2. Appropriately, humble, in an evangelical sense; submissive to the divine will; not proud, self-sufficient or refractory; not peevish and apt to complain of divine dispensations. Christ says, 'Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.' Matthew 11:29.

       What Webster failed to see is that the definition of "meek" in Matthew 11:29 is exactly the same as in Numbers 12:3, (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.).  Webster gave an alternative definition for Moses's meekness; 1. Mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; yielding; given to forbearance under injuries.

       The common thinking on the street is that a meek person is a non-fighter, perhaps even a cowardly man.  Yet, such a definition would never suffice to describe either Jesus Christ or Moses.  Twice in his life, Jesus Christ went into the temple with a whip and kicked over the money changers' tables.  As he held the floor holding his whip, he would not suffer any man holding a vessel to pass through.  If you think that is a wimpy or cowardly man, I suggest that you go to some flea market and start kicking tables over.  You probably won't get far.  Moses's first public encounter with his own people began with him killing an Egyptian.  Whatever meekness is, it has nothing to do with the ability or willingness to fight.  

       There are two other common  misconceptions about meekness.  To be meek is not to be lowly in heart.  Jesus Christ listed those as two distinctly different things.  He said that he was both lowly in heart and meek.  To be meek is not to be humble minded.  In Colossians 3:12, Paul listed both humbleness of mind and meekness as two distinctly different things; Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.  

       Now that we have established what meekness is not, we must look for a common trait that both the greatest man of the Old Testament and of the New Testament had in common.  We will find that trait while both men are under attack.  In Numbers 12, when Moses was under attack by his sister and brother, we find no record of his answer.  Instead, God answered for him.  Therein lies the key to meekness.  Meekness in a King James Bible is the willingness and the ability to wait for God to answer those who would attack our character or our person.  It is something that both Jesus Christ and Moses shared in common.

      But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled, Mark 15:4.  Imagine the consternation of Pilate as he interviewed a prisoner who would not defend himself.  Imagine how many prisoners had groveled at his feet begging him not to crucify them.  Imagine how many had cursed and screamed at him as they were led away for one of the most agonizing deaths known to man.  Instead Jesus calmly told him, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin, John 19:11.  That attitude is the essence of being meek.  

       When Korah and his ilk attacked Moses in Numbers 16:3 saying, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD, he did not respond as we might have been tempted.  The average man would have yelled back that it was he to whom God had shown himself.  It was he, Moses that God called up to the mountain.  Moses did no such thing.  He let God answer his accusers.  His accusers would have been better off if he had attacked them.  

         In a King James Bible to be meek is to trust God to defend us against attacks on our character or person.  It is something that both Jesus Christ and Moses had in common.  

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