Used to be when challenged individual about behavior/response in situation, answer would be “It’s my Irish/Italian/German/… heritage”. Now it’s apt to be “I have OCD, ODD, ADD, ADHD,” some sort of disorder that is to blame which means individual not responsible. Even used as defense in courtroom to avoid consequences of behavior. See clinical descriptions: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Behavioural_disorders_in_children
What does the Word of God have to say about these sorts of behaviors?
James 1:20-21 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ESV
Matt 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. NKJV
Webster (1828) definition of meek:
1. Mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; yielding; given to forbearance under injuries.
2. Appropriately humble, in an evangelical sense; submissive to the divine will; not proud, self-sufficient or refractory; not peevish and apt to complain of divine dispensations.
Possible to display meekness at times, even most of the time in own strength. True meekness, a character trait of Jesus himself (Matt. 11:29), goes beyond outward appearance, only achievable by power of indwelling Holy Spirit. Especially true with regard to attitude and behavior toward will of God.
“…gentleness and mildness to be manifested in intercourse with one’s neighbors. Gentleness and an humble devotion, ready even for suffering, man ought to exhibit first of all…”Lange
A. toward God:
against whom it is not proper to complain even in calamity (v. 3)
when trouble comes – easy first response: “God, why?”, whining, complaining, perhaps blaming, even when difficulty is result of own foolish choices
result of unmortified sinful tendencies trying to make self look better than reality
take credit for success, shift blame for failure
when it’s not result of foolishness, pride comes in – I don’t deserve this
apparently God thinks you need it
we shouldn’t complain against God because…
who is in all things to be trusted (v. 14, 17)
whether in provision of a spouse
in close personal relationships – complementarianism never at the top of the list
always other criteria – visual or emotional appeal, social advantage, etc. – which God wisely overrules
or providing for our needs when we are generous
“When did we see you hungry or thirsty” Matt. 25:37 ff
if generosity/compassion for needy is making a loan to God, he can certainly be trusted not to default
according to whose wise counsels it is needful always to shape the life (v. 21)
Isaiah 46:9-10 “remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” ESV
bottom line: God has plan A, he is working his plan, when our plan conflicts with God’s plan, he wins. Right thing for us – graciously submit to his plan.
Right response: “OK, Lord, whatever you say” be it in his word or in the course of events that he makes his purpose known to us.
and in whose fear one should ever walk (v. 23)
showing a holy reverence for God 24/7 in both word and deed
demonstrating by our choices that God and his priorities come first
includes our treatment of one another – remember Jesus’ words about the hungry and thirsty!
B. toward man:
a gentle demeanor a duty for the married in their mutual intercourse (v. 13, 14)
gentleness early on in the relationship will accomplish far more positive than harshness later
gentleness early on in a contentious circumstance will tend to defuse the situation rather than escalate
if goal is a peaceful home and peaceable relationships, most likely to be achieved through gentleness; harshness can suppress conflict from others but does not make for true and lasting peace (think Lloyd C)
for parents in the training of their children (v. 18, 19, 25)
idea is to use as little force as necessary to accomplish job of training, conforming thought and behavior patterns to correct mold.
sooner started, easier done; may reach point where only God can bring about change – think older foster children, certain patterns cannot be changed by “parents”
“break the will but not the spirit” – Really? Often excuse for harshness, not gentle firmness. Only God can change the will; he can use training and discipline from parents as means of change. goal is molding, shaping, bringing about permanent change with minimal or no damage. requires gentleness to accomplish.
for children toward their parents (v. 20, 26)
children develop broader knowledge base, have more energy, think more quickly than parents thanks to aging process and cultural change
parents tire more quickly, reach saturation point sooner, handle change with more difficulty than children
requires patience in addition to gentleness to properly treat parents – willingness to take whatever time, effort, explanation is necessary to achieve the goal
for the rich in dispensing benefactions among the poor (v. 4, 7, 22)
easy for the “rich” to behave in overbearing way toward needy – “not only are they poor, they must be stupid; otherwise they wouldn’t be poor”. Often is absolutely wrong assumption.
often don’t have have many friends, much by way of help to improve circumstances
need the right kind of help, given the right way – with gentle encouragement
for rulers and kings toward their subjects (v. 12; comp. v. 6, 10)
what dictatorship of any long-standing prospers? has citizens who are content? is overrun with immigrants?
regardless of how they treat others, most everyone does not want to be treated harshly
example: relationship between colonies and King George
gentleness at all levels toward subjects promotes peace and prosperity
for men in general in their intercourse with their neighbors (v. 11; comp. v. 19, 27, 28)
someone who is difficult, hard to get along with not usually highly regarded in neighborhood, rarely at the bbq’s or block parties
loses opportunities for influence, doing good
gentle person who is broadly respected, highly thought of, sought out when there is difficulty, given opportunities to do much for the Kingdom
May God give strength to be gentle, grace to be meek; may we do our part, showing gentle meekness to all we encounter.