“Going Nowhere Fast” Series #8 “Meekness or Gentleness: Power under control”

14 Mar

 Most of us have seen believers lose their temper, and demonstrate the opposite of meekness. Perhaps we have even done it ourselves. Christians, however, are to be meek.

 Definition of Gentleness or Meekness

We’re going to consider the fruit of “gentleness.” And once again, we need to define it. What is “gentleness?”

Their definition of gentleness was “power under control,” & they illustrated it with the picture of a horse that had been tamed. Gentleness to them was a powerful animal with its power completely under control.

I. What is meekness?

  1. It is NOT weakness.

DEF. Webster “soft, pliant, supple. Mild of temper; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; submissive.”

 Great men are described as meek.

  1. Moses (Numbers 12:3) “(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)”
  2. Jesus (Matthew 11:29; 2 Corinthians 10:1)

(Matthew 11:29)  “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

  (2 Corinthians 10:1)  “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you–I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away!”


 It is EMOTION under control.

It is the ability to “govern our passions and resentments, so as not to be easily provoked, and when we are so, to be soon pacified.” Matthew Henry (Notice next fruit – temperance, which is APPETITE under control.)

II. Where does one get meekness?

  1. Fruit of the Spirit. (Provision.)

“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ…”

 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you…?” 1 Corinthians 6:19

 It must daily be put on. (Colossians 3:12) (Definite action.)

(Colossians 3:12)  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

 ILLUS. Wardrobe is AVAILABLE, but no good until you take action and PUT IT ON.

  1. It must daily be pursued. (1 Timothy 6:11) (Continuous action.)

(1 Timothy 6:11)  “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

 ILLUS. Car, once started, will only work if you keep the pedal down. So with the fruit of the Spirit. It is available, but we must CONSTANTLY be asking for the Lord’s help to demonstrate it.

III. Who should meekness be demonstrated toward?

  1. Those who have sinned. (Galatians 6:1)

(Galatians 6:1)  “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

  1. Weakess turns its back on them.
  2. Meekness restores them.

 Those with whom you serve the Lord. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

(Ephesians 4:1-3)  “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. {2} Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. {3} Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

 Weakness brings disunity.

  1. Meekness brings unity.

 Those who have done you wrong. (Colossians 3:12-13) “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. {13} Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

 Weakness returns the abuse.

  1. 2. Meekness TAKES the abuse.

 ILLUS. Jesus Christ “Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” 1 Peter 2:23

 Those who disagree with you. (2 Timothy 2:24-26) “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. {25} Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, {26} and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

 Weakness argues.

  1. Meekness instructs.

 Everybody. (Titus 3:2) “…to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

 Meekness has a humble state of mind. The meek person simply loves people and loves peace; therefore, he walks humbly among men regardless of their status and circumstance in life. Associating with the poor and lowly of this earth does not bother the meek person. He desires to be a friend to all and to help all as much as possible.

  1. Meekness has a strong state of mind. It looks at situations and wants justice and right to be done. It is not a weak mind that ignores and neglects evil and wrong-doing, abuse and suffering.
  • If someone is suffering, meekness steps in and does what it can to help.
  • If evil is being done, meekness does what it can to stop and correct it.
  • If evil is running rampant and indulging itself, meekness actually strikes out in anger. However, note a crucial point: the anger is always at the right time and against the right thing.
  1. Meekness has strong self-control. The meek person controls his spirit and mind. He controls the lusts of his flesh. He does not give way to ill-temper, retaliation, passion, indulgence, or license. The meek person dies to himself, to what his flesh would like to do, and he does the right thing—exactly what God wants done.

The meek Christian does not throw his weight around or assert himself. Just as wisdom is the right use of knowledge, so meekness is the right use of authority and power.

Meekness is required when wrong has been inflicted on us. It especially points to us having the command of our feelings under wrong.

ILL. Water that’s under control would be water rushing through a dam turning turbines, generating electricity to light a city. Water out of control would be a flood destroying everything in its path.

ILL. A disease out of control can devastate the body & kill its victim. But a disease under control can produce vaccines & save thousands of lives.

So when you think about gentleness, think about power under control, anger under control, our emotions under God’s control. In summary, the meek man walks in a humble, tender, but strong state of mind; he denies himself, giving utmost consideration to others. He shows a control and righteous anger against injustice and evil. A meek man forgets and lives for others because of what Christ has done for him.

 (Matthew 11:29)  “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 (Galatians 6:1)  “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

 (Ephesians 4:1-3)  “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. {2} Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. {3} Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

 (2 Timothy 2:25)  “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,”

 (Titus 3:2)  “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

 (James 1:21)  “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

 (James 3:13)  “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

 (1 Peter 3:4)  “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Do you know any VDPs, “Very Draining People?” They’re the kind who say things that set you on edge, & you’re convinced that they enjoy doing it? They come into your home & say, “Where did you find that wall-paper?” And it’s obvious that they’re not asking because they want to go out & buy some for themselves.

They’re the kind who come right out & ask, “Ooh, how much weight have you gained, dear?” Or they say, “Boy, you sure look tired today.” Deep down inside, we know that we don’t need comments like that.

They’re all around us! And why are they like that? I’ve heard their excuses. “It’s not my fault. That’s just the way I am. It’s in my genes. I inherited it from my mother or my father. That’s the way they were, too.”

You see, we live in a “blame game” society where what we do & how we act are never our own fault. Our temperament, our personality, how we deal with people are always somebody else’s fault.

At times I just want to shake people like that & ask them, “What about God? What about the Holy Spirit? Why don’t you let Him into your life, to change your attitudes & actions, your life & your personality?”

PROP. What I’m hoping for is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in you, changing & making you into the kind of person God wants you to be. And when that happens, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in your life.

A. Now let’s look at some demonstrations of gentleness in the Bible. Once again, Jesus is our perfect example.

So let’s consider 3 events in His life that demonstrate the gentleness of Jesus. But as we do, I want you to keep in mind this question: “If we had people like these people in our church, how would we treat them?”

1. With that in mind, in the 4th chapter of the Gospel of John, we see His gentleness in the familiar story about the woman at the well.

Vs. 7 says. “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, `Will you give me a drink?’” And in parentheses it says, “His disciples had gone into town to buy food.” If the disciples had been there, this would have been a very complicated situation.

Vs. 9 says, “The Samaritan woman said to Him, `You are a Jew & I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’” Then it says in parentheses, “For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.”

Now again, remember the culture. In that day a man didn’t talk publicly to a woman, & a Jew certainly didn’t talk to a Samaritan. So if Jesus were a normal Jewish man, He would never have spoken to her. But Jesus is deliberately trying to break down the barriers between them.

Well, you know the rest of the story – how she taunts Jesus & speaks very unkindly to Him. Yet Jesus responds with patience & kindness & love. Then it turns out that she has been married 5 times, & is now living with a man who is not her husband. She’s guilty, there’s no question about that.

But Jesus sees in her more than just a woman who has been married 5 times & is now living with someone who is not her husband. He sees a thirsty, needy person. And He offers her living water that will quench her thirst, not just for a moment, but forever.

2. There is a similar story found in the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John. It is the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. She was guilty, & Jesus could have judged her harshly. She deserved condemnation. She deserved punishment. She deserved judgment.

But Jesus treats her gently. He writes in the sand, & shames her accusers into slinking away. Then He says to her, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go your way & sin no more.”

3. There’s another story in Luke 19. It is the story of Zacchaeus, the wee little man who gets all his self-esteem from taking money from other people. He’s rich & dishonest. But Jesus looks at him & says, “Zacchaeus, come down. I am coming to your house today.”

Soon we see a changed Zacchaeus, & we hear Jesus saying, “Today, salvation has come to this house.”

How would you deal with people like that in our church – dishonest business men, immoral women, a woman who has lived with several men, hoping that each one would be the right relationship? How would you deal with them? Would you judge them harshly? Would you tell them that they’re not welcome here?

Let me suggest that is exactly what the word “gentleness” is all about, dealing with people who have been broken & twisted & mangled in life.

Now why didn’t Jesus condemn them? Because His motivation is very different. He did not come just to judge. But rather, He came to restore. He came to save.

We have always known John 3:16 as one of the most important verses in the Bible. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Vs. 17 is equally important. It says, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

We must never forget that the whole reason Jesus came was “to seek & to save the lost.”

Now finally, I want you to see how gentleness is to be used. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin,” Notice the terminology. Paul is saying “if someone is caught.” It’s like a lure, a trap, a web. A person is caught & all wrapped up in their sin.

Then he says, “You who are spiritual” in other words, those of you who are filled with the Holy Spirit, “restore him gently.” That’s the way gentleness is to be used. It is to be used to restore.

We live in a war zone. Do you feel it? Do you sense that you’re surrounded by exploding lives & personalities & relationships? Do you hear the cries of suffering? Do you see the mangled lives & relationships – all because they made wrong choices?

ILL. Maybe it is a business man who made a wrong choice in business, & his integrity is now suspect, & he’s about to lose his job. Maybe it is someone who has made wrong moral decisions. Now he finds himself infected with a sexually transmitted disease, & his marriage has been destroyed.

ILL. Maybe it is a woman who decided to abort her child, & now she must deal with the guilt. Maybe it is a young man who made wrong sexual choices, & is now caught in the trap of homosexuality. Maybe it is a teenager who made wrong choices about drugs or alcohol.

God is saying, “When you see people who are caught in sin – like the woman at the well, like the woman caught in the act of adultery, like Zacchaeus” – He says, “When you see people like that… Church, be gentle! Be careful. Their lives are so fragile. They could be easily broken.

But they can also be restored. So treat them with gentleness. Pick them up & hold them gently. Show them the way to repentance, & the way back to me, because they are mine. I created them, & I want them back. More than anything else, I want them back.”

Listen to these words of prophecy about Jesus found in Isaiah 40:11, “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms & carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”

ILL. A picture that will probably always be fixed in our minds from the Oklahoma City tragedy is the picture of the fireman holding the body of that baby. We’ll never be able to forget it, will we? What’s touching about that picture is the obvious gentleness with which that big, burly fireman is holding that little baby. You can see in his face, “I must handle this child gently. He’s so fragile. But if I hold him gently, maybe he can be saved.”

ILL. Violet Slaughter’s father died in 1969. Before he died he gave her an antique pitcher & wash basin that before the turn of the century used to be found in guest bedrooms. The pitcher would be full of water & the guest would pour water into the basin to wash off at night before going to bed.

It was Violet’s most prized possession because it came from her parents’ home. And it became even more precious to her after her father died. She kept it on display in a very special spot in her home.

One day guests came to visit, & they brought with them an unruly dog that jumped around a lot. In doing so it wrapped its leash around the little table on which this pitcher & basin were displayed, causing the pitcher & basin to fall & break.

It was a tragedy to Violet. Her husband says, “I watched as she took the dust pan & picked up every piece of that broken basin & pitcher. She kept all the pieces. And every evening, she would bring out the ceramic glue & glue pieces back together again.”

That’s what God says we need to do as a church. So we have two goals. First of all, to realize how gentle God has been with us, how many times He could have condemned us, how many times He could have punished us. But gently, time & again, He reaches out & takes us in His arms & holds us close to His heart. He gently leads us.

Secondly, I want you to realize how important it is that we become gentle caregivers, & begin to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

SUM. It’s a harsh & cold world out there. And somehow humanity needs to see that Jesus makes a difference. He brings our tempers & our temperaments & our personalities under control.

The Manly Meekness of Moses

In the hour of discouragement and tragedy, Moses manifested a manly meekness, a remarkable control of his passions. Notice a few of the factors which no doubt helped Moses to attain such manly meekness:

. . 1. Moses believed and revered God.
. . 2. Moses was remarkably unselfish.
. . . . a. He could have possibly become a Pharaoh in Egypt.
. . . . b. He could have made himself a king in the wilderness.
. . . . c. Heb 11:2-24.
. . 3. Moses had disciplined his will power.
. . 4. Moses was a man of prayer.

Two Great Men of Meekness

The two greatest to walk on this earth– Jesus the Son of God, and Moses, the greatest mere man who ever lived. One of their greatest characteristics and qualities was their meekness.

1) Moses (Num 12:3)
2) Jesus (Mat 11:29)

Meekness is characterized by a willingness to suffer wrong rather than do wrong.
1) Moses Num 12:1-7
2) Jesus– being crucified.

Meekness is not weakness, nor an indication of spinelessness, but it is “strength under control.” Jesus quoted much O.T. Scripture regarding meekness. Pss; Isa 61:1 (Mat 5:5).

Paul entreated meekness and gentleness. 2Cor 10:1; Gal 5:23, 6:1; Eph 4:2; Titus 3:2; 1Pet 3:4.

Conclusion: Jas 1:21 “Receive with meekness the … ”


Is God Gentle? This is a fair question if we consider how the fruit of the Spirit reflect the nature of God. The term “gentleness” may also be translated as humility, meekness, or lowliness. We do not tend to think of God as humble, meek, or lowly. In fact, the ones who are humble, meek, and lowly depend on the power, might, and authority of Almighty God. God cannot be humble, meek, or lowly like we are because he has promised to be the advocate and defender of those who seek refuge in the Lord. If God is gentle, then how can he be their champion?
The opposite of gentleness is pride, power, and authority. Those who have power and authority often become boastful, prideful, and arrogant. They rely on their own abilities to secure their future. But these are the ones that God opposes because they often oppress those who rely on God to secure their future. How can God be gentle then if he is going to bring down the arrogant and lift up the humble?
The simple answer is that God is humble and he doesn’t change the world through brute force, firepower or coercion. God’s reign, his kingdom is emerging and breaking into this world and it is turning everything over. Everything is reversed in this “upside-down” kingdom.
The Upside-Down Kingdom: Think of how God changes the world. He doesn’t begin with the youthful, strong, powerful and influential. He calls elderly Abraham and his barren wife Sarah. He works with conniving Jacob who swindles his brother. He exalts Joseph, the youngest, weakest, and despised in his family. But what about Saul? What about David? What about Solomon? They are mighty kings. Yes, but read 1 Samuel. How does the story begin? With barren Hannah, Samuel’s mother. His second wife. God builds the upside-down kingdom through her heartfelt prayer.
This is what Mary understands when she bursts into praise following the visitation of the angel (Read Luke 1:46-55.)
Is God gentle? In the upside-down kingdom we go looking for a newborn king born of royal blood but find a baby born to a peasant girl of little importance whose husband is forced to pay taxes. The baby is wrapped in cloths, lying in a feed trough, and admired not by aristocracy, but by unwashed shepherds.
When Jesus’ ministry begin we expect that wild firebrand John the Baptist to bow down and give him allegiance, but Jesus submits to baptism. We wait for Jesus to humble the arrogant leaders of Israel and to overpower the brutal Roman invaders. We stand with the Sons of Thunder when they come to Jesus ready to call down fire on the shameful Samaritans who offended Jesus’ honor by rejecting him. But what does Jesus do? He rebukes us. When we chastise him for being too honest and taking up valuable time blessing kids and babies he rebukes us!
Just when Jesus could have led an army into the holy city, he rides in on a donkey. Just when Jesus could have exerted his authority – at the last supper – and invited loyal men to bleed and die for him in battle, when he could have called out the traitor and made an example of him, Jesus washes their feet (even Judas’) like a common servant. When he could have convinced Pilate to side with him, he remains silent. When he could have crushed the oppressors once and forever he allows himself to be crushed. When we look for the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, we find the Lamb that was slain.
God in Jesus Christ is gentle. This is the way of the “upside-down” kingdom. (Read Philippians 2:5-11.) What we call weakness, God makes strong. What we call failure, God changes to victory. Gentleness thrives in the Upside-Down Kingdom because the gentle experience the good news of relying on God for hope and a future – a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

Why is it difficult to cultivate gentleness? Gentleness does not thrive in the kingdoms of this world. There are too many aggressive plants and pests that choke out the growth of the fruit of the Spirit that is gentleness.

Our culture encourages aggression, ambition, and survival. The dominant culture of our age exalts strength and power. Our heroes have always been cowboys – even the ones that are gun-wielding cyborgs or razor-clawed super-heroes. Toby Keith sings that the American way has something to do with a boot. This is not new: one of our nations earliest flags was an image of a rattlesnake with the words “Don’t Tread On Me” written beneath.
We breathe in the air of this culture. For all the Christians that oppose Evolution I am amazed at how many still accept Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest.” Not in biological terms, but in social terms. We accept that this is a “dog eat dog” society and “the early bird gets the worm” and we accept that we need to have a competitive edge and get the advantage. We overlook poverty and oppression by claiming that everyone has equal opportunity. But that’s not Jesus; that’s Darwin.
We may even resort to ridicule and verbal attack to overcome those we perceive as threats. And even in subtle ways we may use sarcasm and gossip to undermine those we do not trust. We may even hold out violence as an option. And we may justify it by calling it self-protection. This is not gentleness. This isn’t the “upside-down” kingdom. But, like me, you find the alternative to self-protection unsettling because it seems like weakness and that is difficult because …

Our culture disdains weakness. Jesus said that if anyone strikes you on the right side of your face, let him hit you on the left side too. If someone sues you and takes your coat, give her your sweater too. If they force you to carry a load one mile, give them two. I so want this teaching to be exaggeration. I try to find ways to say “Well Jesus didn’t mean . . .” Yet, given what I see in the “upside-down” kingdom, I think Jesus did mean what he said. What I have come to realize is that this is a hard saying for people who consider power, influence, and ambition as virtues. Weakness and humility are virtues for wimps in our culture. I don’t want to be a wimp. But if we are all honest we are weak in some way if not many ways. And gentleness is not wimpy-ness in the upside-down kingdom . . . “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are.” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).

Ways to Cultivate Gentleness. God chose us. He called us to live in ways that show the world what God intends for all of us. It may seem like foolishness, but God’s foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of this age. God’s foolishness in the cross is the power of God to save the world. So let us be resolved to cultivate gentleness not only in our personal character, but in our life together and so become a light to the nations.
The fruit of the Spirit are manifestations of love. It is the same with gentleness. Gentleness is not a character flaw, rather it is a quality of love being actively directed toward others. Think of God in all of his infinite power yet he cares for the little birds that are so humble and common. Think of Jesus who stood resolved before the mob that wanted to stone the adulterous woman, and how he graciously forgave her yet seriously urged her to sin no more. Jesus had no concern for himself but only for the woman and the misled mob. As you will see in these ways of cultivating gentleness, they are directed outward in love toward others and they call on us to be gentle.

Let’s Learn to yield graciously. Have you ever won a fight with someone who won’t fight back? How can you? As Christians we are going to have conflicts with others and even with one another. Having a conflict is neither bad nor good, but how we handle them can be. Our culture motivates us to win the conflict and be competitive. Now gentleness is not the same thing as letting everyone else “win.” In fact, gentleness doesn’t even consider “winning and losing” in the equation. Rather gentleness leaves all things to God. In the “upside-down” kingdom, we have the strength to be wrong and the privilege of deferring to others.

Life in the “upside-down” kingdom also calls on us to Reverse our notions of power and control. It is ingrained in us to go to the authorities in order to get our way. If we cannot be in power then we want people who listen to us to be in power. Even in church life we create hierarchies of power and control. But elders, deacons, and ministers are not “in charge” in the church – not the way the world understands “in charge.” The church is a monarchy – there is a living king who rules. He share his power with all of us and those who are “in charge” are those who have a charge to keep. They are servants. The greatest in the upside-down kingdom is the least. The weak and the ill, the needy and the poor are those who are most exalted and served in the “upside down” kingdom. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples he asked them, “Do you understand what I am doing?” In the upside down kingdom we do not “lord it over” one another – we serve one another.

Finally, the best way to cultivate gentleness is to humble ourselves before God. Let us Bend our knees, bow our heads and pray. Let us pray for our enemies. Jesus called us to do this not just for their sake, but for our sake. We may pray for our enemies for their whole lives and they don’t change at all – in fact they get worse. But think of how this discipline of gentleness transforms us!
And let us pray for ourselves – and when we do let’s remember our place before God. Read Luke 18:9-14.

Be gentle and let God lift you up! All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. That’s the way it is in the upside-down kingdom!

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 14, 2022 in Fruit of Spirit


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: