17th Sunday After Pentecost: Meekness Is Not Weakness

17th Sunday After Pentecost: Meekness Is Not Weakness

In the Epistle for today we hear Saint Paul say, "I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity."

Man is basically proud. We are proud of many things. We are proud of our race, our upbringing, and our family tree, perhaps. We can be proud of our education, our good looks, our intelligence, our capabilities. We can be proud of our talents, our gifts, and our positions, maybe our house or car, influential friends or it could be anything. Saint Paul talks of having all humbleness but he also talks of having all mildness.

What does it mean to have all mildness? Mildness is not a word that we use much today. In fact the word mildness has been translated as meekness, or gentleness in some translations.

Mildness is yielding our rights to God so He can demonstrate His peace and power through our lives.

One person, who used the word meekness, said, "Meekness is not weakness. Sometimes we confuse the two. But the difference between a meek person and weak person is this: a weak person can’t do anything. A meek person, on the other hand, can do something but chooses not to."

Another person did a word study and found that the word for mild, that saint Paul used, is “praus” (prah-oos΄).   The word “praus” was borrowed from the military and relates to horse training.   Allow me share a quote from this word study.   “The Greek army would find the wildest horses in the mountains and bring them to be broken in.   After months of training they sorted the horses into categories: some were discarded, some broken and made useful for bearing burdens, some were useful for ordinary duty and the fewest of all graduated as war horses.   When a horse passed the conditioning required for a war horse, its state was described as ‘praus,’ [that is, mild or meek].   The war horse had ‘power under authority,’ ‘strength under control.’ 

A war horse never ceased to be determined, strong and passionate.   However, it learned to bring its nature under discipline.   It gave up being wild, unruly, out of control and rebellious.   A war horse learned to bring that nature under control.   It would now respond to the slightest touch of the rider, stand in the face of cannon fire, thunder into battle and stop at a whisper.   It was now ‘mild’.”

Jesus told us to learn two things from Him - humility and meekness. "learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart" (Matthew 11:29). 

Generally speaking, many have spoken and written about the humility of Christ. But not much is written or spoken about the meekness of Christ. This has led to an imbalance in the personal lives of many believers and also in the Church.

We see Christ's severity in the way He rebuked the Pharisees (Matthew 23) and Peter (Matthew 16:23), and in the way He turned over the tables of the money changers and drove them out of the temple (John.2:14-16). That represented one aspect of God's nature that Jesus manifested.

But we also see the meekness of God in the way Jesus dealt with notorious sinners. We see something of the meekness of Jesus in the way He spoke to the woman of Samaria, for example. Jesus had asked her about her husband. The woman immediately changed the subject and asked Jesus a totally unrelated question about worship (John.4:17-24). And we see there that Jesus did not press the issue of her immoral past, but allowed her to change the subject, and answered her question about worship. If we embarrass another person by probing curiously into details about their past life, or by repeating things that touch sore points in their life, we can be certain that we have learnt NOTHING of the meekness of Christ from the Holy Spirit.

Curiosity can be a sin that even many believers have not recognized as being used as a demonic vice.

Our flesh has a great longing to know about the evils that others have done, and so will always be desirous of listening to the sins of others, even when they are shared under the pretext of asking to intercede in prayer for someone. Such information however will never do us any good, but on the contrary will pollute our minds, prejudice us against others, make us evil, and hinder our witness and our service for the Lord. That is how Satan leads many believers astray. We must never allow others to tell us about their past lives even voluntarily, for man must admit his sins to God in the sacrament of confession, and sins must be told only in the circle in which it was committed. Sins of the thought-life and those committed in private that hurt no-one but ourselves, must be confessed ONLY to God. But sins that hurt another person, must be confessed to God as well as to that other person.

A meek person will always be cautious never to say anything that will probe curiously into the private areas of another's life or into his past.

We see the meekness of Jesus also in the way He dealt with the woman caught in adultery (John.8:1-12). Jesus certainly did not condone her sin or call her sin by some other name. He called her adultery 'sin' and told her very clearly that she must not commit sin again. But He did not throw stones at her for being sinful. God does not throw stones at sinners. We must never forget that. There are two ways to preach about victory over sin. One is the way Jesus preached it, without throwing stones at people. The other is the way the Pharisees preached it, by condemning people. The meekness of Christ is missing in the words of many who preach on victory over sin. They tell others not to sin, but they also criticize them, accuse them and refer to them by hard names. The Pharisees were like that. They preached about righteousness, but they considered everyone "accursed" who did not fit in to their group (John.7:49). We find the same attitude in many believers today.

Jesus on the other hand, preached a much higher standard of righteousness than the Pharisees ever did. But He never called any sinner by bad names. He loved them and won them to a godly life, through His meekness. The woman caught in adultery realized that while the Pharisees had come only to point out her sin and to accuse her and expose her, Jesus wanted to save her. And she must certainly have been saved and become one of Jesus' disciples, after that encounter with Him. When Jesus preached to that sinful woman, He did not preach doctrine to her, but encouragement. He came with a message of salvation from the power of sin, and not just with a doctrine on holiness. A lot of today's "holiness- preaching" however majors on doctrines that define the old man and the flesh, and the new and living way through the flesh etc., But rarely do we see the meekness of Jesus in those who preach these profound truths. And so sinners are not attracted to such Pharisees, as they were attracted to Jesus.

This is where all of us who preach holiness would do well to examine our own lives and see how our message comes across to others. Is the meekness of Christ present in our service to Him? Christ must be manifest in our flesh, if others are to be drawn to Him. We must allow the Holy Spirit to show us the meekness of Jesus, and to transform us into that likeness if we are to fulfill our vocation in life.