Two Sides of the Coin
My maiden name was Bland, and I always struggled with feeling therefore labelled as insipid, boring, characterless and unimaginative – the fact that bland can also mean soothing, tranquil or balmy never cut much ice somehow. Getting married at 18 wasn’t my brightest of life’s choices, but there was a relief at changing my surname, and breaking away from that image!
The word meek is another “two sides of the coin” word: most of the time it doesn’t conjure up a very attractive picture for us does it, suggesting weakness or even cowardliness maybe? I read in the dictionary
Meek: quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive: resigned
“she brought her meek little husband along”
Quiet and gentle can be lovely qualities, but I’m not sure about the rest! Although meek can also mean patient, long-suffering and forbearing – not much fun either, but all very worthy! I also read “Meekness, as referring to behaviour towards others, has been contrasted with humility, where humbleness refers to an attitude towards oneself – meekness meaning restraining one’s own power, so as to allow room for others.” Now I like that. A Sir Thomas Browne explained: “Meekness takes injuries like pills, not chewing, but swallowing them down.” This indicates that meekness allows a person to overlook or forgive perceived insults or offences – does that sound like a picture of Jesus to you?
Perhaps with authoritarian adults all around, as children, we found these words about Jesus a helpful image:
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.
Maybe Jesus can seem more approachable and “safe”, especially if we’re adults coming from a somewhat abusive childhood, or women bullied or dominated by men, when we think of Him as He spoke in Matt.11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart”; or spoke of us in Matt.5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”; or of Himself as King Messiah in Matt.21:5 “Say to the Daughter of Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, meek and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” But when storms and challenges come, we perhaps need another understanding of the word meek.
The Greek word ‘prautes’ (often translated in the New Testament as meekness or mildness or gentleness), is not readily expressed in English; it is a condition of mind and heart rather than action, and is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is a calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation, a spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with ‘self’ at all. The “meekness” displayed by Jesus and commended to us, is the “fruit of power” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary) We make the assumption that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself – Jesus was meek because he had the infinite resources of God at his disposal! As Graham Kendrick put it, meekness and majesty, in perfect harmony – a wonderful role model who kneels in humility and washes our feet.
When we are meek before God, we accept His dealings with us as GOOD, without disputing or resisting; we stop fighting, struggling and contending with Him, knowing that He will work out His best in and for us, with all the energy and power of heaven. And as Paul urged Timothy in 1Tim.6:11, we too should “follow after….. meekness”, correcting our opponents with meekness, courtesy and gentleness (2Tim.2:25) I like that toss of the coin!