Meekness is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Contrary to popular belief meekness is not weakness, it’s not an unwillingness to speak the truth or front up to difficulty. Instead, if you want to understand meekness look at Jesus’ response to the suffering of the cross.
Listen to how Jonathan Edwards describes it:
Behold Jesus Christ in the time of his last sufferings, when his enemies in earth and hell made their most violent attack upon him… Doubtless here we shall see the fortitude of a holy warrior and champion in the cause of God in its highest perfection and greatest lustre… But how did he show his boldness and valour at that time? Not in the exercise of any fiery passions; not in fierce and violent speeches, vehemently declaiming against the intolerable wickedness of opposers, giving them their own in plain terms; but in no opening his mouth when afflicted and oppressed, in going as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, not opening his mouth; praying that the Father would forgive his cruel enemies because they knew not what they did; not shedding others’ blood, with all-conquering patience and love shedding his own. 1
Now despite the fact Edwards uses twice as many words as necessary still you have to say he makes an excellent point! Christ the warrior of heaven, in the heat of battle, shows his strength in meekness! That is truly remarkable and praise God for it because that meekness has the power to save us.
Edwards then goes on to say that you can tell when the Spirit of Christ is at work in a person because that meekness comes out in them too. So Christian boldness and zeal are meek. When opposed, cornered, accused – even unjustly – then you see boldness on its knees, as bitterness and anger gives way to love and patience. Christians are not meant to be “morose, hard, closed, high-spirited, or spiteful”.
It’s obviously challenging. None of us is as meek as Christ. We are prone to mistake sinful pride as Christian passion and selfishness as a desire for justice. But even though there is a way to go for each of us there is great hope because the gospel of grace, found in the powerful meekness of Christ, is transforming. And as Edwards points out God’s grace in Christ has a particular tendency to work on restraining our anti-meek inclinations.
So as Paul says in Titus 3:3
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Turns out the meekness of Christ is powerful enough even to make us meek.
- Edwards, Jonathan Religious Affections, page 278, Banner of Truth 2004 ↩