The Spirit's Fruit of Meekness - Galatians 5

Dr. Steve Viars April 2, 1991 Galatians 5:22

- we're moving on in our series on the fruit of the spirit to
the second to the last one in the list - spirit's fruit of


- I think it might be a good idea, in an introductory way,
to discuss:

1) the issue of overlap

- we're talking about the first component that is listed in
verse 23, and I realize that the component is called
different things in different versions
- If you have a KJV, its called meekness (NASB and NIV -
- tonight, we'll be referring to this component as meekness
- but I realize you might be here and say -well, why is it
that some versions translate one word gentleness and
other versions translate another word gentleness
- "it seems like there's a lot of overlap"

- we could answer that different ways - but the bottom line
is that there is overlap in these terms
- we shouldn't be surprised at that when we think about the
issue of the fruit of the spirit being singular
- you remember we said that this whole study is a singular
fruit with different components

- its almost like eating fruit salad
- Kris made some this weekend - and it sure is good - but
I'm not sure I could tell you exactly what I was eating
with every bite
- there's a little apple, a little banana - "it gets all
mixed up in there"

- that’s the way God is describing these character qualities
He wants to be developing in us - its a package deal and
it ought not to surprise us that there is some overlap
and it ought not to frustrate us that different
translations use different words

- lets also, in the introduction, talk about:

2) a preliminary definition

- obviously we'll be refining this as we go, but we
probably should start with some preliminary definitions

a. What it is not

- when we talk about meekness, we're not talking about:

- weakness (not "think of the wimpiest person you
know and that’s meekness - not Casper Milquetoast
or PeeWee Herman)

- an absence of courage (some view a meek person as
someone who never stands up for anything)
- actually, the opposite is true - you'll see
that the way we define meekness demands that a
person have godly courage
- in fact, in a moment we're going to see that
God said that the meekest man on earth, except
for our Lord, was Moses - yet Moses told Joshua
"be strong, and of good courage, fear not,
nor be afraid of them"
- point - we're not talking about an absence of

- false modesty
- some folks view meekness as false modesty
- like telling a preacher after a message - that
was a good message and having him respond -
"Oh, it wasn't me, it was the Lord"
- you feel like saying "it wasn't that good"
- so we're not talking about false modesty

b. what it is

a good preliminary definition of meekness is:

"that humble and gentle attitude that is patiently
submissive in every offense, while being free of any
desire for revenge or retribution"

- the Scripture makes it clear that God wants us to be
developing this fruit of the Spirit

- Psalm 147:6 - The Lord lifts up the meek; he casts the
wicked to the ground.

- Matthew 5:5 - Blessed are the meek, for they shall
inherit the earth.

- I Tim. 6:11 - But thou, O man of God, flee these things;
and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith,
love, patience, meekness.

- now, if we're going to develop this important component of
the spirit's fruit, we're going to have to recognize and
overcome the hindrances

- let's brainstorm that idea for a minute
- what kinds of things will hinder a person from growing in
meekness, and what kinds of situations will he/she
especially have to learn to handle?

I. Hindrances To Meekness

A. Inability to handle offense
- read Num. 12:1-2
(the Cushite woman was probably someone Moses had
married after his first wife Zipporah had died
- there was nothing wrong with Moses marrying a
Cushite woman - God had told them not to marry
Caananites-but that didn't mean he couldn't marry
a woman from Cush - what we have here is an old-
fashioned family fight
- now, tell me, what would you expect to read in the
next verses? (what would you read if you or I was
Moses?) - Moses lashed back at the injustice

- but what do we read instead? (read 3-4)
- what 2 answers would you give to this question
- Instead of reading that Moses lashed out at
Aaron and Miriam, ___________

1) Moses was a meek man
2) God "took up" for Moses

- point is - none of us will be able to develop the spirit's
fruit of meekness to the degree that God desires unless
we are becoming more and more skilled at handling
situations where we've been offended or we think we've
been offended

B. Inability to conquer pride - Psalm 10

this passage gives us some characteristics of the
person that isn't meek

- read 10:1-4

1. swollen with arrogance - v.2

vs 2 (pride or arrogance) literally means "rising
up, swelling up"
- Psalm 46:3 speaks of the "swelling of the sea"
using the same word

- see, the Psalmist is describing the proud
person as a person who is full of himself
- "self-bloated" - full of his own desires,
passions, accomplishments

- Prov. 8:13 - "To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and
perverse speech"

2. sing their own praises - v.3

- "wicked boasts of his heart's desire"
- the proud person finds it easy to talk about
- they are always the heroes of their own stories
- this verse says they boast about their heart's

- they are always talking about their new this,
or their new that

- the verse goes on to say that they even bless
the greedy
- that is, they speak most favorably about those
they admire most

- these kind of people aren't meek - they're
proud, they're boasters
- instead of - I Cor. 1:31 - Let him that boast
boast in the Lord
Jer. 9:23-24 - Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise
man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man
glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his
riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that
he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who
exerciseth loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness
in the earth, for in these things I delight, saith the

- see, the point is, if you're here tonight and you'd
say "I wrestle with pride" (and most of us would),
then we need to see that that will be a hindrance
to developing the spirit's fruit of meekness

- its been well said - "the man who sings his own
praises always gets the wrong pitch"

3. full of self - v.4

- the proud person is so full of himself there's
no room for God
- that’s why Solomon said that "pride goes before
destruction, and a haughty spirit before a

- Jimmy Swaggart told a Times reporter that he
could never fall the way Jim Baker did, and a
year later he did

- so we're saying that if we're going to develop this
spiritual fruit, we have to recognize and overcome the
obstacles or hindrances, and two of the strongest
hindrances are the:
- inability to handle offense
- the sin of pride

- let me just say that:

C. These two can be a "deadly" combination

read Luke 10:46-48, 49-56

1. 2 examples of lack of meekness

a. v. 46 - arguing (NIV) about who was greatest

b. v. 54 - "offer" to call down fire from heaven

2. reasons for this lack

a. pride - v. 46

b. inability to handle offense - v. 53 - they did
not receive him

- isn't it just these kinds of situations that make it
difficult for us to be meek

- illus - 3 pastors getting drinks from Macs
(INPUT - kinds of thoughts that would have led to a
lack of meekness)

- the good news is - it doesn't have to be this way. I
listed a number of passages from the life of our Lord
that model meekness instead of these two negative
- Matt. 11:29, II Cor. 10:1, Matt. 21:5

- of course I think it would good to pause and go through the
battery of questions we've been using as we've considered
these various components

- On a scale of 1-10, How would you rate yourself on the
spirit's fruit of meekness
- when those who know you think about words that describe you
and your character, is meek one of the words that comes to
their mind?
- will your children leave home saying, Lord thank you for
giving me a daddy that is so meek, a mommy that is so meek

- now, let's talk some about how to develop this spiritual
- we could go at this from several different directions, but
I'd like to answer that question from 3 critical places
where this word is used in other parts of the Bible

II. Steps To Developing Meekness

- I think you might be a little surprised at the
direction we're about to take, but I'm sure you'll
agree after we get this developed and see why its so
important to go this way

- R.C. Trench - "Prautes (meekness) does not consist in a
person's outward behavior only, nor yet in his
relations to his fellow-man. Rather it is an inward
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."

- the point of that is this - we can't be meek with
respect to men unless we're first meek with respect to
God- Now we don't typically think of meekness that
way - In fact, I'm almost sure that when I asked a few
minutes ago about how you would rate yourself on
meekness, that you thought about relations with
fellow-man instead of thinking about your relationship
to God
- but as we study the passages, it becomes very
clear that we can't be meek with respect to men
unless we're first meek with respect to God

A. Have a teachable spirit - James 1:21

- read

- INPUT - why would the lack of a teachable spirit
hinder meekness?

- see, there are some folks who pretty much have the
view that they know everything
- you can't tell them anything they don't already
- they take that same approach to the word of God
- if that concept doesn't fit into their grid, then
they won't accept it
- they'll argue with it, they'll explain it away

- but the meek person says:
- Lord, I recognize that I don't know it all
- I need to be taught by you
- I'm ready to put any of my thinking aside that
doesn't match your truth
- I recognize my own folly - I need your truth,
- help me to be teachable

- point - the person's who not a learner will not be

B. Be submissive to the will of God - Col. 3:12

- read

- in a list of virtues that Paul wants us to be
putting on - one of the ones at the top of the list
is meekness

- meekness and submission/obedience are very closely
- in the previous point, I just went through a series
of statements that a meek person would make to God
in relation to being teachable

- INPUT - let me ask you to do that same thing with
this point - what kind of statements a meek person
make to God with reference to being submissive to
His will?

- INPUT - now factor in what we were discussing
earlier about pride. Why would a proud person have
trouble with the statements we've been talking
about from these two points?

- question we have to ask ourselves is - are you meek in
your relationship with the Lord? (thinking of the
definition we gave for meekness - do you have a
humble and gentle attitude in every situation - we
have to modify the definition here a little bit -even
when the Lord didn't work it out the way you had
wanted, or the way you had planned?

- INPUT - what are some times when that will be
especially difficult?

- it would be wise for all of us to think about the
situations that come up most frequently that cause us
to fail in this area - and recognize our response to
God in those situations for what it is - a lack of
- some of us may need to spend some time with the Lord on
this specific issue, and then plan how we're goinf to
have to begin handling those so that we're more in line
with what God desires

- we're saying that if a person is meek in their
relationship with the Lord, then they'll be properly
positioned to develop this fruit of the spirit in
relation to others

- that would lead us to the third step

C. Be considerate of the other person and committed to

- read Eph. 4:1-3

- passage says - be meek by "forbearing one another in

- the proud person only thinks of himself, and what's
he's done, how he's been inconvenienced, etc.--but
the meek person thinks about the situation from the
other person's perspective

- let's go back to the MacDonald’s illustration
- INPUT - how would this point affect the way we
handled that? (be considerate of her situation
- manager talking to her
- trying to run the drive through with the
headphones, etc.

- the meek person doesn't just focus on how he's being
inconvenienced - he focuses on the needs of the
other person

- he's also committed to unity (cf. v 3 "endeavoring to
keep the unity of the body in the bond of peace)
- that may not always be possible, but the meek person
is at least concerned about it
- he's committed to the principle of unity

- as a result, he/she is always asking - will my
response facilitate unity, or tear it down
- will my response be easy for the other person to
handle - or could I use different words - is there
a better time

- see, we're talking about being committed to unity
- unity may not always be possible, but shame on
us if unity was hindered because we didn't
choose to be meek

- now, we're not talking about weakness,
- refusing to handle problems
- to confront if necessary

- but, we are talking about a humble and gentle attitude
that is patiently submissive in every offense, while
being free from the desire for revenge or retribution

INPUT - We haven't addressed these studies from this
perspective, but obviously those of us who are parents also
need to be thinking how we can help our children develop
the fruit of the spirit. What are some ways we can help
our children to develop this important component?
- just to complete the study, let me mention one area that is
particularly mentioned when it comes to the subject of
- in other words, when the Bible speaks of us being meek, it
is often in connection to this activity
- Do you know what it is? It the subject of ministering.

- based on the uses of this word in the Bible, the Lord seems
to be especially concerned that when we are serving or
ministering, we do so in a meek fashion

III. A Special Area To Work On

A. When you teaching - James 3:13

"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among
you? Let him show out of a good life his works with
meekness of wisdom."

B. When you are correcting error - II Tim. 2:25

"In meekness, instructing those that oppose Him, if
God, perhaps, will give them repentance to the
acknowledgement of the truth."

C. With the unsaved - Titus 3:2-3

"To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but
gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. For we
ourselves were once foolish, disobedient,

D. In evangelism - I Peter 3:15

"But sanctify the Lord God always in your hearts, and
be ready always to give an answer to every man that
asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with
meekness and fear."

E. When confronting - Gal. 6:1

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye who
are spiritual restore such as one in the spirit of
meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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