Do you admire people who go through challenges with poise, patience, and humility?
The quarterly begins a definition of meekness as “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.” No citation is given for this definition.
Wikipedia has this definition: Meekness is an attribute of human nature and behavior that has been defined as an amalgam of righteousness, inner humility, and patience .Meekness has been contrasted with humility alone insomuch as humility simply refers to an attitude towards oneself—a restraining of one’s own power so as to allow room for others—whereas meekness refers to the treatment of others.
Either way, this word was used far more in the 1800s, then dropped off in the middle of the 20th century. Perhaps it’s because our western culture didn’t prize the quality of responding to others, even those who treat us badly, with patience and kindness. Yet the Bible upholds this as a virtue.
The lesson notes Ezekiel who becomes a sign for the people. A brief study of his life reveals times he resembles Hosea as a living parable. He has to dig a hole in the wall of Jerusalem, then climb out with a pack on his back. He must build a model of Jerusalem, then besiege it like a child would with army men and Tonka trucks. God asks him to cook his food over a fire made with human excrement; God asks him to lay on one side and then the other for days on end, and worst of all, God demands he watch his wife die and yet refrain from mourning.
Imagine the most heartbreaking think imaginable in your life; what loss or pain would be the greatest?
What would be your probable response to that situation, based on your responses in the past to painful situations?
Grace to the Graceless
There is one main message of Jesus that asks people to be perfect. It is found in the Sermon on the mount, in Matthew 5:43-48. The Greek word used there is teleios, and it can also be translated as “meeting the highest standard,” “fully morally developed,” “mature,” “complete,” or “at a logical fulfillment.” The context is the Jewish saying, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Jesus takes issue with this Jewish but non-Torah statement. He turns it around and says that love is truly agape when we treat our enemies with kindness, graciousness, and respect, even praying for those who persecute us. The reason is that even God sends the life-giving rain on the crops of evil and good people, of wicked and kind alike.
Paul goes on to say that treating others with kindness is a fulfilling of the law (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:10); in fact, that the greatest evidence of God’s transforming work in our lives is when we can treat our enemies as if they were our friends. In Romans 12:20, Paul quotes the Proverb found in 25:21-22, saying that if our enemy is hungry or thirsty, we satisfy their most basic of needs not withholding these necessities. By doing so, we pour hot coals on their heads.
If this is how we show love to our enemies when we’re free to do so, how can we show our love to those who deprive us of basic rights? Do we still have an option to do something good for them?
How does Jesus’ statement about turning the other cheek or carrying someone’s burden an extra mile or giving our shirt when our jacket is taken fit in here?
How does Jesus’ own example when crucified reveal His love of His enemies?
Slaves to Masters
Back to 1 Peter. In 2:18-25 Peter gives advice to slaves (parallel to Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 3:22-4:1). They are to be respectful to their masters, especially when their masters are unreasonable. This lays a foundation of love that can transform the life of the master as well, working on their heart as nothing else can do.
There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. But perhaps there is a love like it—when we treat with kindness those who mistreat us.