The Spirit's Fruit of Meekness - Galatians 5

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
  meekness

Introduction

  - 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 -
    gentleness)
  - 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
              courage

        - 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
              himself
            - they are always the heroes of their own stories
            - this verse says they boast about their heart's
              desires

            - 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
       Lord."

        - 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
              fall."

            - 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
      characteristics.
    - 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
  fruit
- 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
          know
        - 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,
             wisdom
                - help me to be teachable

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

    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
          related
        - 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
      meekness
    - 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
       unity

       - read Eph. 4:1-3

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

       - 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
  meekness
- 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,
         deceived..."

    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
         tempted."

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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

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