Luckily, gentleness doesn’t mean quietness (thank goodness). Although I think there is value in knowing how to be calm and quiet. I wish I could learn that. Another translation of gentleness is meekness. I think I can develop meekness. Maybe.
The Bible says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” in Matthew 5:5. That’s near one of my favorites to quote to my children: Matthew 5:9, “Please are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”
In our country and in this day and age, I don’t think we are taught to be meek, and many of us don’t even know what it means. The dictionary defines it as, “the feeling of patient, submissive humbleness.” Another way I saw it described was, “strength under control.” I like that definition.
Meekness is not weakness. It is not making yourself a doormat and allowing others to trample you underfoot. It is a decision, though you could go against them, to submit to other people and to allow other people to be more important than you. Meekness actually takes a lot of strength. It is a choice.
Meekness is putting other people first. It is putting God’s will first. It is making a decision to allow other people’s needs, wants or opinions to come before your own. It is a fruit of the spirit that God will develop in us as we grow as Christians. The Bible tells us in Psalm 37:11, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”
Reading about meekness made me start wondering how I could become meek. There were some things I found as I studied.
First, pray about it. God answers prayer. If you ask Him to help you become meek, He will. However, be prepared before you pray. God has a way of answering our prayers differently than we expect. If you pray for meekness, you will be given opportunities to be meek. (Just like when you pray for patience, you will have your patience tested!) Sometimes, it is scary to pray these things, knowing that God will give us circumstances to help us develop, but it is worth because we will become better people in the long-run.
Second, look for opportunities to put others before yourself. This can be as simple as holding the door open for someone or waiting to go last at the potluck at church. You can let others out in front of you in traffic (and test the meekness of the person behind you in traffic). You can give to those in need. You will probably be amazed at how many opportunities there are to put others first.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter or anywhere that there are people less fortunately than you is a great way to find meekness and humility. As you are there, think about what it would take for you to reach that point in your life. Could you be homeless? Could you need help buying groceries someday? I think you will find that you are closer to needing assistance than you might think.
Having to leave our house at the end of 2007 really changed my perspective about that very subject. I don’t think I judged homeless people, exactly, but I do think I thought I was too good for that. I thought they had messed up and it was through their own lack of intelligence that they had ended up poor and without a home. Leaving our home and living with relatives and eventually living in a single wide trailer has certainly changed my perspective there. It made me realize that we are all really just one or two steps away from being destitute. How can we judge others when we could be in that exact situation so easily? And, if you think you are above being in that situation, you’d better watch out. God may just allow your circumstances to prove you wrong.
I pray that God will develop meekness in me. I hope my children will learn to put others first by watching me. I will start looking for ways to purposely put others first. Then, eventually (hopefully), meekness, or gentleness, will be easier and easier. Maybe in the process, I’ll learn to be quiet while I’m at it! (I wouldn’t count on it, though.) -Al