Summary: No. 8 in series on the Fruit of the Spirit, on Meekness.
Fruit of the Spirit—Meekness (2-4 Lessons)
Series: Fruit of the Spirit Teaching Series
Aug. 16, 23, Sept. 7, 14 2014
TEXT: Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 MEEKNESS, temperance: against such there is no law.”
What do the following true illustrations have in common?
Illus. – Three Christian families have lost their teenage children in a tragic car accident in Florida. They have a joint funeral and people are amazed at their acceptance of God’s will in their lives. They shed a river of tears, but do not lash out and blame God. They look for the good that will come of it.
Illus. – My second illustration is Dr. Lee Roberson, the founder and president of the Christian university I attended. Dr. Roberson seemed absolutely immune to criticism. Jealous brethren maligned him when we withdrew from the denomination he was in because of its liberalism in the 1950s, and he was criticized by Christians from many quarters. But Dr. Roberson never struck back; he never retaliated; he never seemed to give a hoot about all the opposition he received. He just went about the business that God had called him to do.
Illus. – My third illustration is this: A man had a meeting at a Christian university and was having trouble finding the university president’s office. He saw a man in overalls painting a hallway and asked, “Can you tell me where the president’s office is?”
“Sure,” the workman said, “Just down that hall and on your left.”
He found the office and informed the receptionist that he was here for his meeting with the president.
“Just one moment,” she said, and he sat down for a five-minute wait.
When he was ushered in, there was the workman standing before him—this time in a suit and tie.” The workman in the hallway and the university president standing before him were one and the same.
He was amazed that a university president would humble himself and do the lowly work of common workmen. What he didn’t know was that no man ever had a more loyal faculty, work force and student body because he was not so big that he couldn’t put on some overalls and do common dirty work.
Now you may wonder what these three apparently dissimilar illustrations have in common. Each of these stories illustrate a different aspect of the Greek word behind the English word translated meekness in verse 23.
There’s no English word that adequately expresses the Greek word translated “meekness” in Galatians 2:23 and elsewhere in the Bible. Meekness, as the King James Version translators chose, is the closest word in our English language to express it, but really you need a whole paragraph to communicate the original Greek word.
The Greek word is praótēs (prath”, #4240) (pronounced prah-ot’-ace) Today, our English word meekness suggests WEAKNESS, whereas praótēs expresses nothing of the kind. In fact, it suggests just the opposite.
Some have suggested the definition of “strength under control” for meekness. But what in the world does that mean? And how can that be applied to our Christian lives?
I think to best capture the meaning of praótēs, we need to go to one of our Greek sources. Vines’ Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives us an expanded definition:
It consists not in a person’s “outward behavior only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word tapeinophrosun_ [humility], and follows directly upon it…”
The meaning of praótēs “is not readily expressed in English, for the terms meekness, mildness, commonly used, suggest weakness and pusillanimity to a greater or less extent, whereas praótēs does nothing of the kind. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a rendering less open to objection than ‘meekness;’…The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was ‘meek’ because he had the infinite resources of God at His command. Described negatively, meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.
All that to convey the meaning of one one! Now let’s look at a few elements of this long definition of meekness and see what applications we can draw from it.
I. FIRST, VINES’ SAID THAT MEEKNESS IS “that temper of spirit in which we accept his dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting…”