Character Project: Week 3: Meekness
Summer Series – Character Project
- This summer we are working through a series called the Character Project …
- Ultimately it’s about lining up our lives to better reflect who we are in Christ.
- Our character is our first witness!
- It’s often on display before we ever have a chance to share verbally.
- We don’t want to let bad character ruin our testimony.
- Easy to see character flaws in other people … little harder to recognize in ourselves.
- But the Holy Spirit is able to reveal these to and bring about change.
- This series not about self help but we do have a role to play as we seek to let the Holy Spirit work in us.
Week by Week
- Our hope is that week by week, we would consider the virtues we have studied …
- Ask God to reveal the presence or absence of these character traits in your life.
- Ask God to give you the capacity and opportunities to put them into practice.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit would be present in the moments where these virtues are challenged.
- Give thanks for victory, seek forgiveness for failure, continue to invite the Holy Spirit to work.
- Maybe the Lord has additionally given you another character trait. Go for it!
Week 1: Gracious Courage of Abigail
- When faced with a situation in need of action she courageously and graciously leapt into action.
- Put herself in a dangerous situation, facing an angry David and with spoke words of wisdom.
- Have you risen to the challenge in situations requiring some courage this past week?
- Have you had a tough conversation that was uncomfortable but needed?
- Have you taken a risk that God has asked you to do?
- Have you been willing to risk being humiliated or rejected?
Week 2: Contentment or Complaining
- Negative example of Korah and others who despite all they had were not content.
- Complained and led a revolt against Moses and his leadership, leading to their destruction.
- God hates complaining … remind your kids of that! Remember what happened to Korah
- This past week, have you sought to be content in the situation God has you in?
- Have you rejected the sin of comparison? Maybe cut off social media to avoid?
- Have you thanked the Lord for his blessings, contentment flows out of gratitude.
- Have you embraced the fact that God has provided all that you need in him for joy?
- I pray that God may continue to remind you of these virtues through this summer.
Today we are going to see an example of this trait found in the book of Judges in the story of Gideon.
- Let me pick it up here and read from Judges 7:22-25
- “Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.”So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they seized the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.”
- The Lord had given Gideon this crazy battle victory, and now they needed to finish the job!
- It turned into a mop-up operation … they are on the run, let’s finish this off.
- Naphtali, Asher, Manasseh (the initial tribes involved) were called out to join in
- Probably included the almost 32,000 who had left earlier (the afraid ones a bit braver now)
- Then Gideon sent messengers to Ephraim asking them to cut them off from the Jordan.
- Ephraim one of the big deal tribes in Israel
- Joshua had been an Ephraimite
- Tabernacle was in Ephraim at Shiloh
- Ephraim had done a nice job conquering their section of the Land
- Ephraim jumps in captures & kills the two Midianite leaders & brings the heads to Gideon
- This is awesome! God has given this great victory, Israel has done their part in finishing it up.. 135,000 Midianites chased out of Israel.
Are you kidding Me!
- This story is going well … Gideon has needed a few reassurances, we’ve had some scared soldiers, but basically everyone has done their part and things are moving along and then we hit a little “bump in the road”
- Let’s read together
- Judges 8:1 Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” And they challenged him vigorously.”
- Has anybody here been in this situation?
- Work your tail off, sacrifice, give it your all, you do the right thing … work, family, church
- And then someone comes and lays into you?
- What would you do in that situation? What would be your instinct?
- Several years later a similar situation with Jephthah another Judge of Isreal.
- He fought the Ammonites and once again Ephraim shows up and gets into it with him …
- “Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without calling us to go with you?”
- Ended up in huge civil war between Ephraim and Gilead
Here we are with a potentially explosive situation …
Good for You
- But Gideon took another approach … this to me is the highlight of the story!
- Gideon counted to 10 and in MEEKNESS answered them in Judges 8:2-3…
- What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? 3 God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?”
- In other words … guys … you were awesome! You played a huge part in this!
- God gave YOU the privilege of capturing and killing their leaders”
- You could just see Ephraim … yeah I guess that is true
- And then we see the result of Gideon’s meekness Judges 8:3
- “At this, their resentment against him subsided.”
- And we are back to our happy ending! All because of the Meekness of Gideon.
As I mentioned earlier, Meekness is one of the virtues that we aren’t really sure about
The Struggle with Meekness
- Meekness is it really something we want?
- We aren’t supposed to be doormats right?
- Aren’t we supposed to stand up and fight for what is right, fair, even for ourselves sometimes?
- I think some of our challenge comes from some misperceptions of what meekness is …
- Meekness Isn’t Weakness! It’s not passivity, it’s not lack of courage, it’s not being a door mat.
- It is “ Strength Under Control”
Meekness isn’t Weakness; it’s Strength under Control
Strength Under Control … the Referee
- One sport I love is soccer … I’ve played, coached and for a number of years have reffed
- Refereeing is an interesting activity. Any referee’s here? Dan Forster?
- It takes a unique person to enjoy refereeing … I have a bit of a love hate relationship.
- If you are at all a perfectionist, or like words or affirmation, like to please people,it’s hard
- Hard because it’s essentially impossible to make very one happy.
- At some point you will make a call or won’t make a call and someone will be angry!
- Coaches, players, fans will question your ability to see, know the rules, act fairly.
- Even professional referees are derided for “being terrible” by everyone.
- But interestingly despite all of anger, comments, complaints … the referee is ultimately in charge of the game.
- They have the final say, they have all the authority. He can throw players, coaches even fans out of the game. Ultimate strength!
- A strong referee is one who is able to in meekness set aside the criticism, set aside the comments, set aside the challenges to authority, set aside the need to justify themselves and in the midst of the storm be the calm and strong leader on the field and do their job
- I hope to do that each game, I have to confess on occasion that despite having all of the power on the pitch I have lost control of my emotions and stood up for myself, justified myself, gotten angry at players and at the end of a game have left feeling terrible
And so as we consider meekness, we need to dissociate the idea it being associated with weakness, doormat, passivity and think of it like a good referee: strength under control.
Gideon’s Strength Under Control
- Gideon when he was attacked … he didn’t apologize (though he would if he was wrong), he didn’t back down … He simply overlooked the slight/attack to himself for the greater good!
- Matthew 5:5 Jesus said “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
- That’s a pretty strong position to be in.
Meekness and Humility (definitely closely connected)
- Both involve a willingness to intentionally lower yourself, involves submission of your will.
- Humility is attitude towards oneself (directed inward)
- Meekness, in contrast, is the attitude displayed toward others (directed outward).
Significant thinkers on meekness e.g. Matthew Henry 1600’s and Evagrius Ponticus Desert Father
- An easiness/quietness of spirit.
- Is the taming of the wild animal within us.
- The accommodation of the soul to every occurrence
- At the crux, humility in some sense is related to the control of our passions especially anger.
- Few months back Karra talked about the Enneagram (personality framework) in relation how we deal with pain in our lives. >> hard for you 7’s pain avoiders
- For all you Enneagramers … meekness is especially hard for the 8s,9s, 1s whose underlying personality element is “instinct “ or “anger”
We all have to deal with that aggressive volatile aspect of our humanness
- Most people who know me consider me a pretty a happy guy, optimistic, smile on my face
- But internally I can be really upset at the things that aren’t right or fair in the world…. a 1
- Grocery store: Express lane “10 items or less” …
- If I’m in that line (I have 10 or less) & I’m counting everyone’s else in that line’s groceries
- Why? Fairness! Justice! Who are you to ignore the rule!
There is so much in the world that can rile us up (sometimes justified or not) …
Meekness is easiness/quietness of spirit, peace, tamed passions & anger that allows us to respond as we should.
The Path of Meekness …
- Meekness submits to the providence of God In the midst of difficult circumstance meekness gives easiness and quietness of spirit …
- Which enables us as Job to say “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord”
- In meekness we live in assurance that all things work together for good if we love God
- Submission to God is one thing, but as we continue down the path we are called to display meekness in our intereractions with sinful people (just like us)!
Meekness when we have been Wronged
- Sometimes we are legitimately wronged or hurt by others and deservingly can be angry.
- Anger in of itself is not sin (God gets angry) but anger must be brought under control
- Meekness controls our anger so that we obey Eph 4:26 that says “in your anger do not sin”
- Meekness causes us to pause
James 1:19 “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”
- Meekness curbs the tongue and calms the spirit. David’s response to Abigail was meekness.
- “Meekness will convince a man of his folly without calling him a fool”.
Meekness in bearing another’s Anger
- “That which provokes anger is often anger.”
- Meekness enables us to bear the anger of others. We see this in Gideon
- Meekness in a sense seeks to put out the fire of another’s anger …
- 1.) Silence …”If you don’t anything nice to say ….’don’t say anything at all”
- My oldest sister never mastered this one … Saturday lunch, just don’t do it! J
- “Does no one stand up for justice?”
- Matthew Henry “Those who find themselves wronged and aggrieved think they have permission to speak, but it is better to be silent … if we soberly reflect we shall find that we have been often the worse for our speaking but seldom worse for our silence.”
- If we feel we have been wronged commit our cause to God let him vindicate you..
- 2.) A Soft Answer … seeks to answer mildly and gently like Gideon did
- “A gentle answer turns away wrath” Proverbs 15:1
Meekness in Daily Life …the Challenge
- Not sure about you but I love the Bible heroes … They inspire me!
- And as we get older we get to see oh that they had flaws too…not perfect!
- But as we do this series and we look at these snap shots and moments I pray that they can inspire you to similar moments as well.
- In the moment where the circumstances are crushing you, Lord give me meekness be like Job
- In that moment when I’m being treated unjustly, help me to bear it meekly like Jesus
- In that moment where I am the brunt of someone else’s anger, help me to answer like Gideon
As you go this week … consider meekness … knowing that in our yourself it is impossible ..but with God everything is possible
“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”