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Wednesday, November 27 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week we considered three of the graces of the fruit of the Spirit kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. We learnt that these graces were all part of God nature. We concluded that our hearts should match our actions; and that God is just as concerned about our heart as He is our actions. Today we shall be considering the first of the last two - Meekness.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (KJV)
Matthew 5:5 “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle, (humble or meek) [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.” [AMP] Emphasis mine
Meekness has been defined as power under control. A strong but gentle, reverent, and humble spirit of selfless devotion to God and submission to His purposes. It is the opposite of pride. It is a God-controlled person, who possesses a strong yet teachable spirit, with all the emotions and ability to take and conquer, but still is able to govern himself.
The meek person rejects the attitude of self-sufficiency and superiority, but lives completely for God with no agendas other than to please Christ.
A word with a closely-related meaning is magnanimous, defined as “generous in forgiving; avoiding resentment or revenge; unselfish.”
Meekness is an important part of true love. “Love is patient; love is kind … It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, New International Version).
The Bible places great value on meekness. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek [Greek praus], for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). That’s a mighty big reward for being meek!
We are to be meek (yielded, teachable, responsive) first of all in our relationship with God, and secondly meek (humble, gentle, respectful) in our relationships with people. To become this kind of person, God must tame and train us!
MEEKNESS VS GENTLENESS!
Since “meek” is no longer a popular or commonly used word, modern Bible translations frequently substitute the almost-synonymous word “gentle.” The New King James Version, for instance, uses “meek” and “gentle” interchangeably. However, we must be aware that gentleness refers mostly to actions, whereas meekness refers to attitude— one’s whole state of mind as well as actions. Meekness produces gentleness. This explains why meekness is one of the beatitudes—beautiful attitudes for which God promises blessings (Matthew 5:5).
MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS!
Many people confuse “meek” with “weak.” It’s regrettable that they rhyme because godly meekness requires strength! Meekness does not refer to weakness or passivity but to controlled power, expressed by faith, obedience and a whole-hearted surrender to the Holy Spirit.
Some people assume that a person who doesn’t retaliate tit for tat must be afraid or mousy. But true strength is shown by a secure individual who stays cool, thinks first and then responds in the way that will best help the other person. Proverbs 15:1 says:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly [humble] in heart”
He used His power for healing rather than hurting. Remember His words: “Learn from Me.”
JESUS: OUR EXAMPLE OF MEEKNESS/HUMILITY
Philippians 2:5-9 says: “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.”
1 Peter 2:23 “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”
Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout aloud! Behold, your King comes to you; He is [uncompromisingly] just and having salvation [triumphant and victorious], patient, meek, lowly, and riding on a donkey.”
TWO PROMINENT EXAMPLES OF THE MEEK AND HUMBLE
We are admonished to live a life completely clothed with meekness and humility. Colossians 3:12 says:
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”
In Philippians 4:5, the Bible admonishes us to have a reputation for gentleness. It says:
“Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near.”
The Bible also admonishes us to live this way in several other scriptures.
Matthew 23:11-12 “The greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and He who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Titus 3:2 “Speak evil of none, do not be quarrelsome, but gentle, showing perfect meekness toward all (perfect courtesy toward all men).”
1Timothy 6:11 “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
Ephesians 4:2 “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;”
Remember that it is the result of His presence, the Holy Spirit within us that enables us to manifest these graces of which meekness is one. So let’s allow the fruit mature and ripen in us.
Thursday, November 14 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In the past few weeks we have been considering the virtues, graces or seeds of the fruit of the Spirit - the result of God’s presence within us. According to our text Gal.5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [AMP]
We have since considered love, peace, patience (longsuffering) and in today’s study we shall be considering kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.
Kindness is defined as the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people. It conveys the meaning of moral goodness, integrity, usefulness, and compassion. In the King James Version this word is translated “gentleness,” which links it to the meaning of a gentleman or a gentlewoman, someone who behaves properly, with moral integrity. Romans 2:4 reminds us that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance not judgement. The Holy Spirit enables us to have moral integrity with kindness and not get trapped in self-righteousness judgement.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
God's kindness can be personal, meant especially for one person. David experienced God's kindness, and he praised God for it, saying, "He reached down from on high and took hold of me" (Psalm 18:16).
God's kindness may also affect many people in a particular way. God shows His kindness through the ongoing provision described in Acts 14:17: "He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons."
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you. [AMP]
“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” 2 Samuel 9:7
Goodness means uprightness of heart and life. Goodness is seen in our actions not just the words of our mouths. This word relates to not only being good, but also doing good things. The Contemporary English Version of 2 Thessalonians 1:11 highlights this meaning, “We pray for God's power to help you do all the good things you hope to do, and your faith makes you want to do.” Through the Holy Spirit's work in Christians' lives, they are upright in heart, and they do good things. God knows how much we love Him by how much we are showing self-sacrificing love for other people.
In man, Goodness is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.
In the Bible, the “goodness” of God often refers to His gracious generosity in providing abundantly for mankind’s needs and benefits (Psalms 23:6; Psalms 65:11). It can also refer to God’s generous mercy and patience that allow more time for sinners to repent (Romans 2:4).
But God’s goodness is much more than those things. It is the very essence of God’s nature— His righteousness and holiness. In Ephesians 5:9, we see that His goodness is closely associated with righteousness and truth. To the extent that we have God’s goodness, we have godliness or God-likeness.
Just as Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). So must we! Good works include obeying God’s laws. We have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
Christ said to do good to everyone, even our enemies! “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28).
Doing good to someone who does good to you, Jesus points out in (Luke 6:32-33), is not pure goodness. It is rather two people exchanging favours, which can be at least partly selfish. God’s standard is the very highest!
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith [fellow believers]” (Galatians 6:9-10).
Faithfulness is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Faithfulness is a character trait that combines dependability and trust based on our confidence in God and His eternal faithfulness.
It implies the following: that a person is strict or thorough in the performance of their duty (Matt. 25:21, Col.1:7), that one is true to one's word, promises, vows, etc., and they are steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant, reliable, trusted, or believed.
"O Lord God Almighty! Where is there anyone as mighty as You, Lord? Faithfulness is Your very character" (Psalm 89:8).
Faithfulness is at the heart of all that God is and does. His truthfulness, holiness, love, righteousness, and other attributes ensure His faithfulness. He is incapable of being otherwise. God is faithful to protect us from temptation and the evil one. (1 Corinthians 10:13), He is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful. (2 Timothy 2:13). He is faithful to fulfil His promises. (Hebrews 10:23). He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9), etc.
We must remain faithful to God and to our commitments. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
Without faithfulness to God there can be no Christian life. Christianity is based first on faith that God is, and then that through Christ Jesus we can be forgiven and are saved. Our faithfulness is a commitment to adhere to the One God who is true and supreme and to keep His commandments.
Proverbs 16:6-7 - “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
God is just as concerned about our heart as He is our actions. James in James 4:8 wrote to the early Christians:
“Cleanse your hands [actions], you sinners; and purify your hearts [attitudes], you double-minded [straddling the fence between God and the world]”
Pure hearts require right motives. Paul said that if he did good works without love, “it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Doing good deeds, being kind and being faithful to impress others will bring no reward from God (Matthew 6:1-4). But when the motive is to “glorify your Father in heaven” instead of yourself, doing good works that are seen by others is part of being “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). So our hearts should match our actions. Once God’s Spirit is at work within us, it produces the wonderful fruit of the Spirit; expressing itself in these graces: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). These virtues, seeds or graces, blend together to reflect the overall character of God expressed by us!