Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Can Women Afford to be Meek?

Dannah Gresh: The only way you can display meekness is for Christ to live through you. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We’re not talking about moralism here or self-correction or making ourselves something better than we are. We’re talking about Christ who lives within us, who has paid the price for our sin and lives within us. By the power of his Holy Spirit, He pours His grace into our lives to make us something supernaturally that we could never be apart from Him.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Wednesday, July 14, 2021. I'm Dannah Gresh.

Nancy’s been leading us through a convicting series called, "The Beauty of Meekness." We’ve gotten a helpful biblical overview of meekness over the last several days and now we’re going to look at this as women in 2021. Can women afford to be meek in our day? Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Some of you are old enough to remember Phyllis Diller. She made you laugh. A standup comedienne for those of you who don’t know. She was big in the 60s, and that just dated some of us. She created a stage character   that was a wild-haired, eccentrically dressed housewife who made jokes about a fictional husband who was referred to as Fang.

She was known for a loud, cackling laugh. That was part of her act. The character she portrayed was blunt and crass and boisterous, no restraint in her speech. She was unkind. She spoke disparagingly of her husband, etc. If we were to pick a picture of something, a character that is the opposite of meek, that might be the picture.

Sadly, what was then an extreme sort of way for a woman to act has become the accepted norm for women in our culture, and yet there’s nothing new. It reminds me of verses in Proverbs like the one that says, “The woman of folly is boisterous, she is naïve and knows nothing” (9:13 NASB). Or this verse in Proverbs 7:11: “She is loud [or boisterous] and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house” (KJV).

There have always been foolish women since Genesis chapter 3, in the Garden. Yet our culture has come to endorse and promote characteristics in women that are the furthest thing from the meekness and quietness of spirit that we’ve been talking about over these days.

Let me give you a couple other illustrations. A few years ago an article appeared in USA Today that said,

The hot trend in movie heroines is not the damsel in distress. It’s the damsel who causes distress. Today’s top actresses, such as Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, and Jessica Biel have cultivated reputations as tomboy sex symbols, women with delicate features who can disarm a tough guy equally as well with a sultry look or a kick to the throat.

So you have in this third-wave feminism today, as it’s known, this raunch culture among women where women are taught to be aggressive, to be outspoken, to be bold. Meekness and quietness of spirit are disparaged and looked down upon. In fact, I came across a blog entry on the Internet. This blogger was objecting (this was not a Christian blog) to parents who train their children in gender differences—who want girls to be girls and boys to be boys. The title of the blog was, “Socializing Our Girls to be Meek, Uninteresting Women.” 

So the thought is that if you’re meek, you’re boring, you’re dull, you’re weak, you’re lacking in something, or you’re uninteresting as a woman today.

Here’s another blog. You can learn a lot in the blogosphere about what the culture is thinking and where it is. This woman said—it was a Christian woman—she said,

I was raised in an era when women could be seen on the nightly news tossing their bras into burn barrels and marching around in public demonstrations, screeching about equal rights. These were women that found their voice, so to speak, and were not afraid to use it, and often. Discretion was out the window and making a public spectacle of themselves was the order of the day.

Television shows reinforced this message of loud, obnoxious, pushy women in the starring roles. The message was further pounded into us as liberal feminist teachers in our grade schools, junior high, high school, and colleges reinforced this message in us every day.

By the time many of us reached young adulthood, we had this message of womanhood and what being a woman is all about so reinforced in us that many of us felt the pressure to "become" some kind of superhero chick that could do it all, have it all, say it all, and take no lip from anyone about it.

Any of you feel that you know what it is to have been raised in this era? She said,

For those of us that did not grow up in a church with strong examples of godly, gentle women . . .

Which, by the way, is what is hugely important in training a generation of young women to think God's ways, to have examples of godly, gentle women. She said, "I didn't grow up in the church. I didn't have that, so what I grew up with" is what she just described. She said,

The contrast is as striking as night and day, and the affect it has had on many women who are converted to Christ, is a very long road of unlearning these worldly attributes of womanhood, and finding that balance between standing up for what is right and doing it with grace in a God honoring way.1

So she taps into the challenge that it is for us who have been influenced by this very feminist, loud, brash, pushy woman sort of culture to know how to be God’s women, especially if you haven’t grown up with that kind of training and instruction and modeling.

Here's another woman who wrote to Revive Our Hearts and asks a question about how we do this. She said,

Exactly how do we ladies exhibit a meek and quiet, gentle spirit? I am fifty-five years old, married thirty-seven years, raised two sons to adulthood, worked tirelessly in my church managing programs and events, and the last fourteen years been employed as a church office manager. Because of the responsibility and being in the home with three males, I have developed a "sharp edge." And sometimes without realizing it, I speak sharply or harshly with others. My question is, how do you balance being quiet, meek, and gentle with being a strong, confident, accomplished woman, fifty-five years old, with a great deal of life experience?

Again, this is another woman saying that it is hard to know how to live out this ideal of biblical meekness. When it comes off the pages of Scripture into the reality of life in the twenty-first century, in different life situations, how do we live that out? 

Here’s another woman who is in a difficult marriage who wrote to us and said, “I constantly allow my emotions to take over and put me in a tailspin over the annoyances of life.” Now there’s probably not anybody in this room who can’t in some way relate to that issue. We allow our emotions to take over and to suck us into the vortex of the things around us that are annoying or irritating. Am I the only one in this room who ever gets irritated? Like big time? Okay. I just wanted to make sure this is not just for me.

So what’s a woman to do? How do we grapple with those questions? The answers to those questions are not like A, B, C, D. There’s no formula. Godliness is a process. Sanctification is a process. It’s Christ in us who fulfills the righteousness of God in us. In this session and the next I want to talk about some practical aspects of cultivating a spirit of meekness and gentleness. But I just have to tell you for starters that there is no formula. If there is, I haven’t found it.

I wish there were just like three or four steps I could take or this book by Matthew Henry that I could read, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. We’ve been talking about it throughout this series. Well, I have read the book, and I’m still not meek. Maybe if I just put it under my pillow it’ll . . .

Somebody said to me on the break, “I’ve got to have that book,” and I hope you will get the book. But I want to tell you, there are no shortcuts to godliness. It’s day in and day out. Humbling ourselves. Acknowledging our need. Letting God form Christ in us.

So this session and the next are ones that ten years from now I hope I can teach more effectively than I can today. But I just want to share some thoughts, a little bit random, some different points about aspects of cultivating a spirit of gentleness and meekness.

The Scripture says, “Seek meekness.” You find that in Zephaniah chapter 2, verse 3, in the King James Version. “Seek meekness.” Pursue it. Make it your intent to develop a heart of meekness. So the question is, how? How do we seek it? How do we clothe ourselves with meekness or gentleness, as Colossians chapter 3 says? How do we put on meekness? What do we do?

I think a starting place is to be honest about where we fall short. Stop and take stock about our meekness quotient. It’s easy to compare ourselves with some of the women we’ve talked about out in the world who are brash and loud and boisterous and say, “Well, I’m not like that.” But we need to hold our lives up to the light of God’s Word and say, “How am I doing in the meekness area?”

Let me ask you some questions. Don’t try and jot all these down. We’ll have them on the website for you. But just as we think about where we are in relation to meekness.

  • Are you easily provoked?
  • Do you quickly get annoyed or irritated when circumstances displease you?
  • Do you have a tendency to fly off the handle?
  • Do you have a short fuse?
  • Do you get angry easily?
  • Do you lash out at your children when they blow it?
  • Are you often impatient with others who don’t perform at your level of expectation or don’t show up on time or are not as conscientious as you are?
  • Do you find yourself being impatient with your friends or maybe with your teenage kids’ friends who are acting like two-year-olds? You say, “Grow up!” Do you find yourself being impatient?
  • Do you have a critical spirit? That doesn’t mean you don't ever point out things that need to be corrected in your children. It means, do you have a spirit that is looking for negative things? Do you see things with eyes of negativity and a critical spirit?
  • Do you often find yourself resentful of people or circumstances that cross you? They don’t do it as you would want them to or as they should.
  • Are you a controlling woman? Meekness is a spirit of humility that says God is in control. I’m not. Do you find yourself being controlling, trying to hold onto the reins of your own life and other peoples’ lives around you? Controlling your home, controlling your marriage, controlling your workplace, controlling the women’s ministry in your church? Do you feel like you have to be in control? You have to get in the last word? It has to go your way?
  • Are you mouthy and loud? Now, I’m not talking here about a personality issue. I thank the Lord that God made all types and different kinds. Some of you are very outgoing women and you converse easily with strangers, and you’re kind of the life of the party. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you have a spirit that kind of walks in a room and you take over with your tongue, with your words, with your mouth. You know what I’m talking about when I say mouthy. Just women who talk too much, too loudly, too boisterous. Drawing attention to themselves, not being sensitive to the others around them. Not being good listeners, but being more talkers. Things that come in that category.
  • And that whole “quick to speak.” Are you quick to speak? Whatever you think, it just comes out of your mouth. How often do we end up having to confess sin because we just spoke too quickly. Proverbs says, “In the multitude of words, there lacks not sin” (10:19 paraphrased). There will be sin when we speak too much.
  • Do you tend to be outspoken? Whatever you think, whatever your opinions, people know them. Opinionated, dogmatic. By the way, one of the places where I see so much of this today is in the electronic media, through email, on the Internet, on websites, on blogs. People just say whatever they think without curbing or restraining their words. I’m talking about Christians.

I hear today, and you’ll see it on the Internet, a debate going on about whether it’s okay for Christians to use mild to greater profanity and some of them in the pulpit. This sense of not being pure and careful with our words, just saying whatever we think. We think, If I think it, I have a right to say it. That’s not a spirit of meekness. Where do you rate on that?

  • Are you stubborn?
  • Do you dig in your heels? Do you have the characteristics of a pitbull? I have a picture of a pitbull that attacked a porcupine. There were needles everywhere! You could hardly recognize the dog. The dog got the worst end of that deal, although the porcupine is short a few quills. If you get in attack mode, you are going to have some consequences.
  • Do you have to get the final word?
  • Do you have to be right?
  • Are you quick to correct others, to point out their mistakes, their failures, their flaws?
  • Do you have a perfectionistic spirit? That’s not a meek spirit.
  • Are you demanding? Are you exacting? By that, I mean do you have this narrow, little world that everything has to fit in your little box or it throws you?

Let me say, I know I’m speaking to some single women who are older. I think this is one of the things that older, single women have to be really careful about. It’s easy when you don’t have mirrors in your life, when you’re not living with people who are challenging your boundaries, it’s easy to develop that very narrow, negative, exacting mindset where you can’t handle noise. You can’t handle change. You’re not flexible. You’re not adaptable. It’s one of the reasons I try to keep children in my life and families and things that cross my world and cross my desires because I don’t want to become this rigid, cantankerous woman for whom things always have to go her way.

  • Are you argumentative?
  • Are you testy?
  • Are you temperamental?
  • Are you defensive when you’re criticized?

We could add to that list, but those are some of the things that have come to mind as we’ve been talking about meekness. As you’ve taken that little test in your heart, where do you stand? The first step in cultivating a spirit of meekness is to be honest about where you’re not meek. Not making excuses, not defending, not rationalizing. “Well, that’s just my personality,” or “If you had to live with this teenager or this husband or this boss, you would understand.” Not making excuses, just being honest before God about where we lack meekness.

Throughout the study for this series, God has used life circumstances, not big ones, just a lot of little ones, to squeeze me and to bring to the surface the lack of meekness that’s in my heart. It’s come out sometimes in my words. It’s come out sometimes in my spirit or my tone of voice, rolling my eyes or just that seething in my heart, that restlessness, that agitated spirit in my heart. I’ve seen again and again and again how much I need to cultivate a spirit of meekness.

If you’re not sure, then ask the people you live with. Ask them to respond to these characteristics and score you on them. Would others say that you have a meek and quiet spirit? That you respond humbly, calmly, and patiently to provoking people in circumstances? So the starting place is to be honest about where you don’t have a meek spirit.

Then cultivate a grateful spirit—a grateful spirit. I say that on a couple of fronts. First of all, be mindful of God’s mercies and realize that all of God’s mercies in your life are undeserved. You don’t deserve any of His kindness or His goodness. Be grateful for God's mercy. That will help us to be meek with others in dealing with their shortcomings and failures.

As part of gratefulness, focus on the good qualities in others. Look for evidences of grace in their lives. The person that irks or annoys or irritates you may not even be a Christian, but they’re made in the image of God. Look for shadows, hints of God’s image in that person. Look for evidences of God’s grace in that husband’s life, in that teenager’s life, and focus on those things with a spirit of gratitude.

Then clothe yourself in humility. That’s part and parcel of meekness. Humility is where we recognize our own sinfulness and our own need for mercy. We realize that we deserve God’s wrath and His judgment, and yet, He has shown mercy on us. It’s undeserved. The apostle Paul never got over the fact that God would have saved him when he was so dead set against Christ and then would have put him into the ministry. Paul says in 1 Timothy 1, “It’s amazing to me, it’s astounding to me that God in His mercy would have done this for me” (see vv. 12–16).

Never get over the wonder of where God found you and what He has done in and through you. We were evildoers ourselves. While we’re being so irked about other evildoers and annoyed by them, remember we were evildoers. Apart from God’s mercy we would still be evildoers.

I have a friend who is dealing with a tough situation with a rebellious young adult child. My friend said to me on the phone the other day, “I have to look at my own heart, and I have to let God show me where I would be and where I am apart from His grace.” It’s hard to get really offended and bent out of shape over the sins of others if we’re seeing our own need through humble eyes.

Then if you want to cultivate a meek spirit, it’s so important that we consciously, consistently yield our rights. Yield our rights. What makes us angry? It’s when we feel that our rights have been violated. Somebody has stepped on our rights. Somebody has not treated us in the way we think we should be treated. Well, if you realize how we deserve to be treated, then anything that we get better than hell is better than what we deserve.

If you will consciously yield your rights before you get into a situation . . . Yield your rights to happiness. Yield your rights to have a husband who loves you and cares about you and meets your needs. Then anything you get will be a blessing. You’ll consider it a privilege. You’ll be grateful for it.

If you want to cultivate meekness of spirit, Matthew Henry says in this wonderful book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, “Be often repenting.” Be a repenter. Let me read this quote. He says,

Be often repenting of your sinful passion and renewing your covenants against it. If our rash anger were more bitter to us in reflection afterwards, we should not be so apt to relapse into it.

In other words, if we realize when we respond with annoyance or irritation or anger, if we would be serious and repenting about it and would see it as the sin it really is, then we wouldn’t be so prone to fall into it so quickly the next time. He said,

Repentance in general, if it be sound and deep, and grounded in true contrition and humiliation, is very meekening and disposes the soul to bear injuries with abundance of patience. Those who live a life of repentance, as every one of us has reason to do, cannot but live a quiet or meek life; for nobody can lightly say worse of the true penitent than he says of himself.

If you’re being honest in confessing your own sins, then whatever anybody says about you that’s a criticism or a slam, you’ll know that the truth about you is worse than what that person’s criticism has said. So be quick to confess your sins, your faults, to God, to others and to humble yourself when you’ve not responded meekly.

Just over the past couple weeks as we’ve been in this series, I’ve had numerous instances where I knew that my response in email or on the phone or in a meeting was not a meek one. I’ve had to go back and say to the individual or the individuals involved, “That was not a meek response. Would you please forgive me?” Humble yourself as a repenter.

Then ask God for meekness. Matthew Henry says,

Pray to God by his Spirit to work in you this excellent grace of meekness and quietness of spirit. When we begin at any time be froward and unquiet, we must lift a prayer to Him who stills the noise of the sea, for that grace which establishes the heart.

Say, “Lord, You can calm those stormy waters, would You calm my heart right now? Quiet my heart. Still the tempest in me. Grant me meekness and quietness of spirit.”

Then resolve to be meek. Matthew Henry say,

We must engage ourselves by a firm resolution in the strength of the grace of Christ to be more mild and gentle.

He says that we should be often examining our growth and our proficiency in this grace. We should examine every night whether we have been quiet all day.

Take time to reflect. Now I’m not talking about living under the law here or some legalistic thing. “Oh, I slipped there at a quarter 'til twelve.” I’m talking about when the Holy Spirit convicts that you weren’t walking in grace and humility and meekness, that you weren’t clothed in meekness, but you were clothed in pride or anger or you had an irritable spirit. Take time to reflect and then to confess it.

Most of us live unexamined lives. We just go through the day. We react. We fly off the handle. We speak our piece. We lose our peace by speaking it. And then we just go on. And all this stuff is just piled up in our hearts. Stop and take stock of where you’ve failed, and look into the merciful, forgiving, gracious heart of God and say, “Oh, God, thank you for Jesus who died on the cross to pay for this sin.”

Call it a sin. Don’t just call it a character flaw. By all means, don’t blame whoever it was that sent you reeling that day. Don’t put it on them. Take responsibility. Say, “Oh God, have mercy on me.” And then by God’s grace, get up the next day and face the day again. Believe God for His grace to clothe you in meekness and quietness of spirit.

Remember it’s a process. Don’t go from here and say, “I’m going to be meek and humble for the rest of my life. I’m never going to get into an argument with anybody again. I’m never going to speak unkindly to my kids.” Chances are you’ll do it before the day is over if you go out in pride and say, “I can do this.”

We’re not talking about moralism here or self-correction or making ourselves something better than we are. We’re talking about Christ who lives within us, who has paid the price for our sin and lives within us by the power of his Holy Spirit. He pours His grace into our lives to make us something supernaturally that we could never be apart from Him.

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is in a series called, "The Beauty of Meekness." She’s been telling us about the only true power that will allow us to learn meekness. It’s Christ inside each of us.

Nancy explores this theme further in her booklet A Deeper Kind of Kindness. She helps us see the relevance of the gospel when it comes to how we express kindness to one another. Part of living out the beauty of the gospel together is just plain being kind!

Her booklet on kindness also includes a bonus from the Revive Our Hearts team: A list of 100 ideas—practical ways you can show kindness. We’d like to get a copy of A Deeper Kind of Kindness into your hands. It’s our thank-you gift this Kindness month, when you support Revive Our Hearts with your donation of any amount. We really do depend on the gifts of friends like you to keep going.

To give, visit, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Ask for Nancy’s booklet on kindness when you contact us with your donation.

Do you ever wish your tongue came with a . . . pause button? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will help you explore meekness in our words, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. We’ll see you then.

Helping you resolve to be meek, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.



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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.