Based on a series of sermons preached in PCC Prayer Meetings in 2021
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
The Lord Jesus is the perfect man. Therefore, everything about Him is worthy of imitation. We’ve considered how we must imitate His obedience, attitude towards sin, forgiving spirit, prayers, servanthood, and even greeting. But what is it He wants us to imitate most? Well, we have no doubt it is His meekness. Nowhere do we read of the Lord calling upon us to learn of Him in anything else but meekness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,” He says, “for I am meek and lowly in heart” (v. 29).
1. What Is Meekness?
What is meekness? Meekness, we must remember, is not merely gentleness or humility. Meekness may best be described as “inner strength under control when provoked.” It is like wet tinder to sparks of fire. It is patience when experiencing trials or injuries. Thomas Watson puts it beautifully: “Meekness is a grace whereby we are enabled by the Spirit of God to moderate our passions” (Beatitudes, 106). A person who is meek has good control of his will and exercises it not according to his feelings, but according to his principles.
The opposite of a meek person is one who lacks self-control, who gives in to the passion of the moment to retaliate, to murmur, to fret, to rebel, as the case may be.
Thus, the apostle Peter is reminding us to imitate the Lord’s meekness when he says in 1 Peter 2:21 that “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”
Our Lord was truly meek. There was never a word of complaint on His holy lips, even when His suffering was most intense. Though He stood up for His right when He was unjustly treated (Jn 18:23), He did not do so vehemently. He bore His trial patiently without responding in kind to those who tormented Him.
What about you?
2. Are You Meek?
Some of us probably think that we are quite humble and meek. I doubt we really are. Some of us think we are not very meek, but are not as bad as others. I suspect we are thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to.
Meekness is a rare quality. If you are genuinely meek, you will be like the Lord Jesus. Therefore, those who have it will inevitably be conscious that they fall short of His glory.
How to assess whether you are meek? Consider your responses to various situations in life.
Do you find you find yourself full of complaints? You may not think you are complaining, even when you are. Do you routinely comment negatively about the weather, the taste, the smell, the loudness, the equipment, the service, the food, the singing, the preaching, etc.? These may actually be complaints. If you are full of complaints, you are not meek.
Are you contented with the situation that the Lord has put you in? Or do you find yourself disgruntled and blaming others for your situation—your boss, your colleague, your spouse, your children, your church, etc.? If you are not contented, you are not meek.
Are you often tempted to say something or do something to get back at someone who has hurt you? He has slandered me before others; perhaps I should say something about him too. If that’s your temptation, you have some ways to grow in meekness.
Do you worry about tomorrow so much that you are hindered from doing what is right today? You fear taking a step in the right direction today because you are afraid it may lead you to where you do not want to go. You do not trust the Lord. You are not being meek as Christ, who said, “yet not my will, but thy will be done.”
Do you find yourself irritated by the behaviour of others so that you are quick to volunteer judgmental remarks about them? If so, you need to work on meekness.
Are you meek? You must answer this question honestly if you are to imitate Christ in His meekness.
3. How to Cultivate Meekness?
Meekness is not optional. It is the badge of a true believer. The Lord Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5). Therefore if you have no meekness at all and cannot be described as meek to any degree, you can have no confidence that you will inherit the earth. In other words, you can have no confidence that you are a true believer.
Therefore, the first step to cultivating true, Christ-like meekness is no other than repenting your sin and believing in Christ for your salvation. Those in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells will have the seed of meekness implanted in their hearts. This seed will germinate as it is watered by prayer and fertilized by the word.
But secondly, to cultivate meekness, you must think and meditate often on the meekness of Christ. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that as we read or hear the word of God expounded, we shall be “changed into the same image [of Christ] from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Thirdly, if you wish to cultivate a meek spirit, then whenever you find yourself provoked to react in anger or to speak harshly to someone, you must immediately seek the Lord’s grace to control your emotion. You must not give free rein to your passion.
Fourthly, to cultivate meekness, we need to work together with one another. I mentioned earlier that you might have a complaining spirit without realizing it. Many years ago, as a young teenager, I used to go longkang fishing with a friend almost every weekend. My friend was rather laconic, so I used to try to make a conversation by commenting on the situations we were in. One day, somewhere along Stamford Canal, after tolerating my chatter for a while, he turned to me and said, “Why are you so full of complaints?” I said, “I am not complaining.” He replied, “You are complaining. You have something to say about everything.” It has been 43 years, but I still hear those smarting words very clearly! Whenever I am tempted to grumble, I remember my friend’s words.
Let us not be afraid to point out to each other when we hear grumbling and complaining. Instead of listening quietly, let us remind one another to count it all joy when we face inconveniences and trials. And let us remind one another to resist complaining.
Fifthly, to cultivate meekness, remind yourself that meekness is the virtue that will most glorify God and recommend Christ to others. If you are meek, you will be unlike the world and like Christ. If you are meek, you will say more about Christ to your unbelieving friends, colleagues and relatives than if you spend much time telling them about Him. Yes, it is essential to talk about Christ, but if you want to be a good witness for Him, you must begin by displaying His meekness.
Thank God for Christ our Saviour and His testimony of meekness. It is because He meekly suffered on our behalf that we have life. May He grant, by His example and the power of the Spirit, that we may also be meek as He is meek! May it be that in this way, His name may be magnified in our midst, and we may enjoy peace in Israel? Amen.