Scriptures

The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Meekness

Introduction

Before one can understand

‘the fruit of the Spirit,’

one must understand the context of Galatians 5 where ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is revealed. In this chapter, Paul exhorts Christians not to allow their liberty to degenerate into a

‘yoke of bondage.’

Some individuals in the Galatian church had ‘fallen from grace’ because they sought to be ‘justified by the law.’ The Judaizing teachers were binding the old law upon the church and, by such, had hindered some in obeying the truth, Galatians 5:7. These false teachers of Judaism were troubling the church, Galatians 5:12.

However, as Christians, we have been called to liberty, liberty from the old law, from sin, and from the bondage of sin. Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh,’ Galatians 5:13.

One reason we ought not to use our liberty as a license to sin is because ‘we walk in the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:16. To ‘walk in the Spirit’ means to walk according to the Spirit’s teaching through His sword ‘which is the word of God,’ Ephesians 6:17.

This is the same as being ‘led by the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18, and it is the opposite of walking after the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are at odds, Galatians 5:17. They are in constant conflict. They are opposed to one another.

To further illustrate this conflict, Paul contrasts ‘the works of the flesh,’ Galatians 5:19-21 with ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 16 of Galatians 5, Paul commands, ‘Walk in the Spirit.’ Let’s be sure, there are certain results of walking in the Spirit. There is the benefit of not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The same thought is declared by David in Psalm 119:11,

‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

When we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, it will protect us against the fiery darts of Satan. Jesus knew this lesson when He was tempted of the devil, Matthew 4. Jesus guarded Himself from each temptation by the Word of God. He answered the tempter’s temptation with

‘it is written,’ Matthew 4:4+7+10

Also, if we ‘walk in the Spirit’, we are ‘not under the law,’ Galatians 5:18. ‘The law’ in this verse is the Mosaic Law. Earlier in this chapter, we are told Christ is become of no effect unto those who justify themselves by ‘the law,’ Galatians 5:4. To return to the Mosaic law is to abandon the law of Christ and is to fall from grace. Some believe this means we are not under any law.

However, we are under ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ which frees us from ‘the law of sin and death,’ Romans 8:2. We are to ‘fulfil the law of Christ’ by bearing one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2. And, we are to look into ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ James 1:25.

Also, consider this, since

‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John 3:4

to say we aren’t under law is to say we haven’t nor cannot sin. Clearly, we are under law, the law of Christ, but we are not under ‘the law’, the Law of Moses. Further, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ results from walking in the Spirit.

Again, when we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ will be seen within us. The qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ will characterise us. The Spirit will produce these qualities within us by the Word He has inspired.

‘The fruit of the Spirit’ is the produce of the Spirit

In other words, it is the product that is produced by the Spirit’s influence. ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ isn’t a Christian nor the fruit of a Christian which some have mistakenly taught. In fact, the fruit of a Christian is more than just a Christian.

It is true that in the natural world, mankind, animals, and plants produce after their kind. Christians should also produce after their kind, and in this sense, the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.

However, Christians produce other fruit besides Christians. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught,

‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

Within the context, Jesus is speaking concerning false teachers who come ‘in sheep’s clothing’ but inwardly are ‘ravening wolves,’ Matthew 7:15.

To illustrate how we can know a false teacher, He taught a good tree produces good fruit, whereas an evil tree produces evil fruit.

Is the only fruit of a false teacher, other false teachers? Of course not! False teachers cause division, false hope, and disillusionment to only name a few. So, it is with Christians. Christians should evangelise, but there are other fruits which they should bear, and one such fruit is the fruit of the Spirit.

Since the fruit of the Spirit is the produce of the Spirit, then how does the Spirit produce the qualities of

‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’

in Christians today? The Spirit influences Christians today by the Spirit inspired Word. Peter wrote,

‘For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:21

It is this Word that will make us

‘wise for salvation,’ 2 Timothy 3:15

and

‘it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,’ Romans 1:16

It provides us with

‘everything we need for a godly life,’ 2 Peter 1:3

Thus, nothing else is needed for it is all sufficient and will produce the right fruit.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that a sower sowed seed by the way side, upon a rock, among thorns, and on good ground, Luke 8:5-8. Later, Jesus told us what the seed represents. He said,

‘The seed is the word of God,’ Luke 8:11

So, the Word was sown in the hearts of men, but sadly the hearts of some men were like the soil of the way side, the rock, and the thorny ground.

Thankfully, when the Word of God is sown in other men whose hearts are like the soil of the good ground, it

‘brings forth fruit with patience,’

that is with constant perseverance, Luke 8:15.

What is the fruit of the Spirit?

It is what the Word provides and produces in the good soil of a person’s heart.

Contrasted to the Spirit produced fruit, ‘the works of the flesh’ are ‘the unfruitful works of darkness,’ Ephesians 5:9+11. In other words, ‘the works of the flesh’ don’t yield a valuable or desirable fruit. The works of the flesh are the evil fruit of the evil tree. They bring forth no blessings and no real benefits.

Please take careful note that unlike the plural ‘acts of the flesh,’ ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is singular. ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ aren’t separate fruits but are characteristics or attributes of the singular ‘fruit of the Spirit.’

Besides these nine characteristics, Paul adds

‘all goodness and righteousness and truth’ in Ephesians 5:9

Thus, giving us a total of eleven attributes of the fruit of the Spirit all of which are virtues of the highest moral and spiritual qualities.

These qualities or characteristics will be manifested in the lives of those

‘who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’, Romans 8:1+4 / Galatians 5:16

Like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1, if ‘the fruit of the Spirit’

‘be in you, and abound, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1:8

In contrast, if they aren’t manifested in our lives, then we aren’t being ‘led of (or ‘by’) the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18 / Romans 8:14. And again, like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, if they are lacking, then we are ‘near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9. Thus, the proof of the tree is in the fruit.

Jesus said,

‘the tree is known by his fruit’, Matthew 12:33

And,

‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

So, let us determine to always ‘walk after the Spirit’ by following His Word in order that we may manifest these marvellous traits, the fruit of the Spirit.

Meekness

The fruit of the Spirit is the produce the Spirit yields in the heart of men. By the Spirit’s influence through the Spirit inspired Word, man is instructed in such characteristics as ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,’ and meekness, Galatians 5:22-23.

In this part of our study, we are concerned with ‘meekness’, the eighth characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. Like the other qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, meekness mustn’t be disregarded as being unimportant.

Jesus taught this God admired virtue in the third beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount,

‘blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth,’ Matthew 5:5

Paul informed the young evangelist Timothy to flee covetousness

‘and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,’ 1 Timothy 6:11

Rather than adorning themselves with fancy hair-do’s, gold, and costly attire, Peter instructs ladies to adorn themselves with

‘the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,’ 1 Peter 3:4

Thus, we see the importance of meekness.

What is meekness?

Meekness is a virtue describing an inner quality of a person. It isn’t necessarily an outward quality though such temperaments express themselves by outward actions. Meekness carries with it the idea of self-abasement and is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-willed. Meekness also implies submission. To be truly meek, one must be submissive.

Jesus expressed this thought in John 10:27,

‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.’

In our culture, meekness is often portrayed as weakness and is sometimes characterised by a person who is unable to help himself.

However, Jesus is meek, but as God, He is infinitely powerful. The Greeks considered animals that were tamed as meek. The animals still had all their strength, but being tamed, their strength was under control, disciplined, and gentle. Meekness is often associated with humility.

In fact, they are so closely related only the humble heart can possess meekness. In Jesus’ invitation, notice how He joins these two qualities. He said,

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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.’ Matthew 11:28-29.

Because Jesus is meek and lowly in heart, Christian ought to be the same.

Thus, these two virtues are again connected in Ephesians 4:2 which says,

‘with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.’

Finally, notice the connection in Colossians 3:12. Paul, writing to the church at Colossae, said,

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

Thus, in each of these instances, we see this close alliance between meekness and humility.

Meekness begins with a proper attitude towards self. As we stand in the presence of the almighty God, how do we view ourselves? Are we or, at least, should we be humbled by His greatness? Meekness is void of pride. Because of our sinfulness, we have nothing of which to boast or flaunt. Therefore, James wrote,

‘But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’ James 4:6

Meekness continues with a proper attitude towards others. The meek are gentle, mild, and lowly. For this reason, the meek don’t demand their own rights. Isn’t this what Paul wrote about concerning meats sacrificed to idols and a brother’s weak conscience? Romans 14:13-23.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating such meats, but because it may cause a brother to stumble, we ought to refrain. Rather than demanding our rights, in meekness, we abstain. Meekness also is involved in our teaching and encouragement of others.

Consider the following passages in this light

Galatians 6:1 ‘Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.’

2 Timothy 2:24-25 ‘And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.’

1 Peter 3:15 ‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’

Though there are times when it is necessary, none of us like to be severely reprimanded. With all the problems in the church at Corinth, Paul approached them

‘in love, and in the spirit of meekness,’ 1 Corinthians 4:21

and

‘by the meekness and gentleness of Christ’, 2 Corinthians 10:1

Let’s, therefore, be followers of Paul and humbly seek to instruct and correct one another in the spirit of meekness.

Meekness ultimately culminates in a proper attitude towards God. This is the attitude of Jesus when He declared,

‘For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me’. John 6:38

Also, this attitude is displayed in His prayer on the Mount of Olives,

‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’, Luke 22:42

Today, all of God’s will for all mankind is declared in His inspired Word, the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 / 2 Peter 1:3.

How do we approach the Bible?

Do we approach it like Jesus approached the will of the Father without dispute, resistance, and murmuring? With these thoughts, consider the exhortation of James,

‘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 1:21

There are many good examples of meekness within Scripture. In Genesis 13:8-9, a dissension arose between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s. Abraham, however, didn’t want strife to come between him and his nephew, and in meekness, he gave Lot who was younger the first choice of where to feed his herds and take his family. Abraham didn’t demand his rights of being the elder, but with meekness and without complaint, allowed Lot to take the better land.

Moses is another powerful example. The first time the word ‘meek’ is used in the Bible concerns this great man of faith. Number 12:3 says,

‘Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.’

He was meek because he humbled himself and submitted to the will of God.

Even though he saw himself unable to speak, in meekness he obeyed God and lead the children of Israel out of bondage. As the writer of Hebrews records, he saw the wealth of Egypt, and what it meant to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, yet in meekness he chose the reproach of Christ. Hebrews 11:24-26.

Finally, consider the example of Jeremiah. He spoke the truth as it was a burning fire shut up in his bones, Jeremiah 20:9. Other prophets of his day were speaking smooth things, Jeremiah 30:10, but Jeremiah preached the word of God.

He became unpopular, isolated, and suffered because of his stand for the truth. Still, in meekness and submission to God, he kept on preaching and teaching the truth. Yes, he was discouraged, but no, he didn’t quit but continued to meekly serve God.

One characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘meekness’. If someone was describing your characteristics, would they include meekness? All of us can grow in this tremendous virtue. So, let us cultivate a spirit of meekness.

‘Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger’. Zephaniah 2:3

The fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities to which all men should aspire. They are qualities that need no law, need no regulation, and need no restraint. They are godly qualities that issue from the foundational principle of love for God and for His creation. If these qualities are applied properly to our lives, they will build a good relationship with God, with family, and with friends.

Every godly person of the past was characterised by them, and every godly person of future will be characterised by them. Let us, therefore, strive in earnestness to possess the fruit of the Spirit which is

‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, righteousness, and truth’.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."

Galatians 5:22

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