Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Developing a Meek Spirit

Leslie Basham: Meekness isn’t always understood today, according to Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The world tells us if you’re meek, you’re lowly, you’re worth nothing, you have nothing to make you happy. But God’s Word says if you have true biblical meekness, you are a blessed person. Do you want the blessings that come with meekness? Then you’ve got to pursue something that’s counter-cultural.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, June 17.

One of the most misunderstood biblical qualities is meekness. Nancy has been challenged in this area, and she’s about to challenge us in a series called, "The Beauty of Meekness."

Nancy: It’s so often true that in whatever area I’m getting ready to teach others or have just taught to others, I find myself getting tested. I guess that’s a good thing. The Lord wants to be sure that the things I’m telling others I’m practicing in my own life.

You don’t really know what you know about something until you get a test. That’s why we have tests in school. Pop quizzes, mid-terms, finals. They tell the teacher and they tell us what material we’ve mastered and what material we have yet to master. On the subject we’re talking about in this series, I have much yet to master.

I’ve realized as I’ve been studying on the subject of meekness, this is something I need very much myself. I feel like I’ve just skimmed the surface of what there is to learn about this topic. But as I’ve been studying, I’ve found myself on a battlefield at times and failing miserably more times . . .

As I think about the last couple of weeks, just so many instances come to mind where I became conscious, unfortunately after the fact in many cases, that the way I had just communicated or something I had just thought or an exchange I had just had with someone, this was not a meek spirit. So I’m very much in process here and have been convicted over my own need for meekness.

Meekness, or lack of it, shows up in our hearts before it shows up outwardly anywhere else. But then invariably, what’s in our hearts comes out. I found myself in various types of communication with others—email . . . Did you know that you can display a lack of meekness in email? I have learned that that is possible. Phone calls, conversations with friends.

In fact, over the last couple weeks, there have been several relational collisions, if I could put it that way, that I’ve had. Not big, huge things, but just tense moments or staff meetings or a phone call with my staff at one point where I have found myself being annoyed and feeling like other people weren’t doing things they should be doing.

I stopped over the course of a week and looked back over several of these issues and realized I was the common denominator in all of these stories. It was like, “Whoa, look here. It might not be everybody else who’s got the issue. Maybe you have an issue.” It was a good thing for me to just be studying this and having the Lord challenge and caution.

In fact, I had one phone call, one of these relational collisions—I won’t go into all the details, but there was something in our ministry that was not a big deal, but something that I had been wanting to see happen for a long time. I had asked and nothing had happened. So I got on the phone with one of our staff, a man on our staff. As a woman I’m always wanting to be communicating with the men on our team in ways that are feminine and womanly and gracious. You want to be that with anybody, but especially as we’re talking with men, want to honor their masculinity.

I got to talking with one of the staff who’s involved in this area of the ministry and without saying, "Is this a good time, or can I dump something on you that I’ve had on my heart and been thinking about?" I just dumped. I wasn’t shrieking; I wasn’t angry. I was just firm and determined that this needed to be addressed. I could tell that the man I was talking to, who is a very godly, gracious man, humble-spirited, loves the Lord, great to serve with; I could just tell that I was shutting him down by my multitude of words, by my barrage of words.

Ladies, that’s hard for men. It’s hard for your husband. It’s hard for people we work with and serve with when we just overwhelm them with words. He got quiet. He wasn’t saying much, and I knew he was taking some notes. He’s a gentlemen. The Spirit was just again prompting me, “You need to back off and give him time to digest this and don’t run over him with your words.” But instead of again doing what the Spirit prompted, since I wasn’t getting a response, I just went through the whole thing again. Louder, faster, more, more barrage of words.

I knew as I was doing it that I was shutting down this man’s spirit. Again, he’s humble; he’s gracious, and he wasn’t going to fight back. I really wasn’t attacking, though he may have felt attacked. I don’t know. I think men sometimes do feel attacked. We’re just saying, “I’m just telling you the facts. Why do you feel attacked?” Well, it's because we’re saying it so fast, so intensely.

Some of our staff talk about my high-beam eyes. Well, this was on the phone so he couldn’t see my high-beam eyes, but my voice was in earnest tone. We got past it and because he didn’t put on a defensive mode or whatever, the conversation ended up okay. But again, the Lord was working on me.

After I got off that call, I thought, You just ran over him with words. You weren’t kind. You weren’t considerate. You weren’t thoughtful about how you brought that up. You overwhelmed him, and that was not a meek spirit. It was on my heart that night. It was on my heart the next morning. I was getting ready to go do an interview the next morning, and I thought I’ve got to talk to him. He probably never would have brought it up.

I called him at our office and I said, “The Lord won’t leave me alone about this conversation we had yesterday. You were very gracious and I appreciate that so much, but my spirit was not meek. I’m studying meekness, and here I am not living it out in that conversation at all.” I said, “Would you forgive me? I did not handle that in the right way.”

I’m so thankful I called. I wanted to get my conscience cleared because I knew that’s what the Lord wanted, but also when he responded and he said, “That means so much that you would call back,” I knew that he really had been affected by my lack of meekness. So we had a sweet time, and we’re recovering from these issues. But far better to have a meek spirit in the first place than to have to be going around all the time picking up the debris.

We’ve had some tornadoes coming through this area, and you just look at all the limbs down and the debris and the trash and the mess. That’s what some of our lives do. That’s what my life does sometimes when I just walk through a room or walk through a meeting or walk through somebody’s life and I leave debris in the way by saying too many words or rough words or not having a spirit that is meek.

So I’m really tuned to what God is saying through this whole issue of meekness. Meekness matters to God. You can’t avoid that in the Scripture. Zephaniah 2, verse 3, says we are to seek meekness. Colossians 3:12 says we are to put on meekness. First Timothy 6:11 says we are to pursue meekness. It’s not just for some believers. It’s for every believer.

We’re going to try over the next several sessions to just look at this thing of meekness from several different angles and I want to be the first to say I don’t feel like I have this down at all. A year from now I think I could teach this differently, but I’m just going to share with you what God has been saying to me about it and let God expand it further in your own heart.

We need to recognize first of all that meekness is not something that comes naturally. It’s not a matter of having a naturally meek personality. Some people are naturally quieter people or more reserved, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily meek. There is no one who is naturally meek in spirit. Meekness is supernatural. It’s an expression of the character of Christ. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. It’s a grace that the Spirit brings about in our lives, and it’s something that cannot be produced apart from the Spirit of God.

It requires that God brings our naturally unmeek—I’ve been trying to think of what is the opposite of meekness. We’ll just say it’s unmeekness. It’s God Spirit bringing our naturally unmeek reactions and responses and instincts under His control so that they become truly meek as Christ is meek.

I want to also just remind us that meekness, though it’s highly valued by God, is not valued at all by our world. It is not in vogue. It is not politically correct, and we’re always calling women to be counter-cultural women, to go against the flow, to be salmon swimming upstream. This is one area of many that will be a concern to a women who wants to be counter-cultural. To be meek is to go against the flow.

The world esteems just the opposite of meekness—self-assertiveness, stand up for your rights, be demanding, speak your mind, have it your way. Where God highly values the things that the world despises. The world looks at meek people and says, "They’re weak." God looks at meek people and says, "They remind Me of Jesus." God highly values meekness and the world detests it and despises it, but the world highly esteems and values what God detests.

So you have to decide, am I willing to swim upstream in order to pursue meekness because that is what it will take.

Why pursue meekness? What do we stand to gain from it? Of course, the big reason why is because God says we’re to pursue meekness. But I think there are some other reasons. There’s some fruits and blessings and benefits that come from pursuing meekness that we want to have and that we can have as we become meek people.

I think maybe the most familiar passage that comes to mind is in the Beatitudes, there in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.” That word blessed is happy, fortunate, to be envied are those who are meek.

Now again, the world tells us if you’re meek, you’re lowly, you’re worth nothing. You have nothing to make you happy. But God’s Word says if you have true biblical meekness, you are a blessed person. Do you want the blessings that come with meekness? By the way, the blessing there is they shall inherit the earth. We feel like we people are giving up everything, but God says, "No, they will have everything that really matters." Do you want the blessing of meekness? Then you’ve got to pursue something that is counter-cultural.

Psalm chapter 37 tells us "the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (v. 11). Now that’s something I’d like to have. People who are not meek do not have an abundance of peace. They can’t have settled hearts and minds. But the person who is meek can be delighted with an abundance of peace. Peace of mind. Peace of heart. Peace in relationships.

When I went back and made that phone call to our staff member, there was a sweetness and a peace in our relationship that wasn’t there when I was pushing my way through, when I was steamrolling my way through the issue. I got my point made in the first call. That man understood clearly what I felt needed to be done, but I lost relational capital.

Now again, he was humble and gracious so he wasn’t going to let that be a barrier, but it was a barrier in my heart. It was a barrier in my relationship with the Lord. I lost my peace, and I began to experience conviction in my conscience. Do you want peace? Then you need to pursue meekness. There’s an abundance of peace for the meek.

Psalm 25:9 tells us, “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (KJV). If we want God to guide us, to teach us the way that we should go, if we want to know good judgment, if we want to have insight and wisdom and understanding, we have to be meek. We’re going to see that’s because meek people are:

  • teachable people
  • humble people
  • open to counsel

We’ve all known people—maybe one of them has been one of your sons or daughters—and at times we’ve all been the kind of people that you can’t teach them anything. They know everything. God says to people who already think they know everything, "They’re not going to learn anything from Me." Jesus says to the church in the New Testament, “You say I’m rich; I’m increased with goods; I have need of nothing.” He says, “You don’t realize that you are wretched and pitiful and poor and naked and blind. Ask of Me and I will give you what you need.”

Well, the person who thinks he has it together and knows everything is not going to be on his knees crying out to God for wisdom, for direction. But God says the person who humbly recognizes that he needs direction, if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God. God says, "You know you lack it, you know you need it, you ask for it, I will give it to you."

I think sometimes when we don’t know which way to go; we don’t know what to do; we don’t know how to handle a situation, and we say, “Lord, You haven’t shown me what to do!” It may be because God knows that we don’t have a meek spirit. We don’t have a teachable spirit. We’re not willing to receive what it is that He would show us.

God doesn’t want to show us His will so we can decide if we want to do it. God says, “No, you decide whatever You show me I’m going to do.” Sign the blank contract at the bottom and God says, “Then I’ll show you what My will is.” He wants to know first that we have a meek, receptive, pliable heart.

To be meek, speaking of blessings or benefits of meekness, is to be like Jesus. Isn’t that what you want? That’s what I want. To have formed in me the character, the heart, the Spirit of Jesus. The Scripture says that Jesus is meek and lowly in heart. That’s why He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29 KJV).

The world does not celebrate meekness, but the greatest man who ever lived—Jesus Christ, the Son of God—said, “I am meek. I am lowly in Spirit.” Do you want to be like Jesus? You have to become meek.

When I’m being mouthy, dogmatic, opinionated, narrow, critical, negative, when I’m being the opposite of meek in my life, I’m reflecting something other than the Spirit of Jesus. But when true meekness, the fruit of the Spirit, and we’ll see what that meekness really is; when that becomes my spirit, then I’m reflecting to the world what Jesus is like.

Meekness is especially, in the Scripture, commended to women. Again, as we’re thinking of why pursue meekness, as women it’s natural for us, and our culture really promotes this, to focus on physical beauty—on external adorning, on our hairstyles, on our clothing styles, our jewelry, our makeup. These are the things, if you look at advertisements for women, that are being promoted and advertised as being really important.

But God’s Word has some right counsel for us as women. It helps us to see beauty from God’s perspective. In 1 Peter chapter 3, verse 4, where the apostle says,

Let your adorning [let the thing that you consider attractive and beautiful] be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty [I love that phrase] of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

A gentle spirit. That word in the original language is meek. A meek spirit, a gentle spirit, a quiet spirit. Scripture says for a woman to have that internal heart attitude of meekness or gentleness and a quiet spirit gives her a beauty that is imperishable. It’s a beauty that cannot fade away. It’s a beauty that you don’t have to go through all kinds of cosmetic surgery or makeup routines to preserve. It’s something that gets sweeter and richer and more beautiful as you age.

By the way, as I’m aging, I’m thinking about how can I have that kind of inner beauty that grows, that increases? That’s what a meek spirit does for us as women. Not only does it produce that kind of beauty that doesn’t perish and doesn’t fade, but that verse tells us this beauty of a meek and a quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight. This is what causes God to look at a woman and say, “She’s beautiful.”

Now we know what causes us to look at a woman and say, “She’s beautiful.” We know what causes men to look at a woman and say, “She’s beautiful.” But what causes God to look at a woman and say, “She’s beautiful,” is a spirit of meekness and quietness. A gentle and a meek spirit.

Then another reason to pursue meekness. Isaiah 29:19 tells us, “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD.” I love that verse. I actually just kind of stumbled onto it while I was doing this study. I hadn’t caught it in this ESV translation. It hadn’t stood out to me before in this way. “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD.” I want joy. That fresh joy comes springing up out of a spirit that is meek.

Throughout this series I’m going to be reading some segments and doing some teaching from a book that has really been a huge blessing to me on this subject over the years. It’s a book by Matthew Henry. It was written in 1698. It’s over 300 years old. It’s called, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. I’m going to encourage you to get this book. We’ll have it available in our resource center.

Let me just read you a quote from Matthew Henry about this matter of the joy that comes from a meek spirit. He says,

If there be a heaven anywhere upon the earth, it is in the meek and quiet soul that acts and breathes above that lower region, which is infested with storms and tempests.

In other words, he’s saying things down here on earth, they’re stormy, they’re tempestuous, but a meek and quiet spirit will enable you to experience life on a plane that is above the stormy, tempestuous world.

He said it would be like having heaven on earth to have a meek and a quiet spirit. He says,

A meek and quiet Christian enjoys himself. He enjoys his friends. He enjoys his God. And he puts it out of the reach of his enemies to disturb him in these enjoyments.

In other words, if you’re living with meekness and quietness of spirit as we’re going to see what it truly is, it puts you in a place where your worst enemies can’t make you miserable. You experience a heaven on earth. “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD.”

So over these next days I want to encourage you to come along with me on this journey as we pursue meekness, as we seek meekness, and as we put on—clothe ourselves with—meekness. As we do, I believe there’s going to be new springs of peace and joy and blessing that God will bring flooding into our lives.

Let's pray.

Lord, it’s an awesome thing that You would want to bless us. I don’t know why that You do. You’ve said that we can be blessed if we’re meek, so I pray that over these next days You would help us to capture Your heart for meekness to get a better grasp of what it is, what it looks like, what it means.

Lord, we’re just saying from the outset we want You to transform us, to change us, to clothe us with meekness, to fill us with Your Spirit and produce in us a fruit of meekness, not only for our own enjoyment and pleasure, but even more for Your glory and so that we may radiate and reflect Christ to our world. I pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been praying for the Lord to be developing meekness in us.

While on the Revive Tour recently, Nancy met a woman who has been seeing the Lord develop a meek spirit. She’s thankful for how God is using Revive Our Hearts in this area.

Woman: Listening to Revive Our Hearts, submission was the one word that came out. Submission to your husband. I can trust God because He is faithful. Revive Our Hearts was a piece of the puzzle that God used to break me of my own will and to show me that I don't have the answers, neither does my husband have the answers, but Christ has the answers. 

Nancy: I was encouraged to talk with this listener and so many more like her so far on the Revive Tour over last few months. When I hear stories like this, I’m so grateful the Lord allows Revive Our Hearts to continue providing biblical truth women need in their everyday life. 

A huge part of making that happen is the Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner Team. I like to say that these people are the lifeblood of this ministry. They pray. They share this message with others, and they support the ministry financially each month. 

If you have seen God at work through Revive Our Hearts, maybe God has used it in a significant way in recent months or years, and you'd like to be a part of seeing this outreach touch more lives, then can I encourage you to consider joining our Monthly Partner Team? When you do, you’ll get regular updates, a monthly letter from me sharing things that are on my heart, and you can attend one Revive Our Hearts event each year at no charge.

When you sign up this month to be part of our Monthly Partner Team, we'll send you a signed copy of my daily devotional book called, The Quiet Place. It's got 366 days of readings that will encourage you and challenge you in your walk with the Lord.

To learn more about the details of how to join the Monthly Partner Team, the benefits that are involved, because it really is a partnership, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

And speaking of the Revive Tour. The final stops on the tour are taking place this week. I would be so grateful if you would pray for me and for our team for all those coming to these events in Lynchburg, Virginia tomorrow and Wednesday. And then this coming Friday and Saturday in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There’s still time to reserve your seat if you live anywhere near those cities. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com for more information.

Please pray that God will pour out His Spirit, that He will visit us with His presence, that He will transform lives, encourage God's people, and that all His purposes will be fulfilled in these final stops on the Revive Tour.

Leslie:  Thanks, Nancy.

Now, today you were introduced to the concept of meekness. And maybe it sounds frightening to approach other people with a meek and gentle spirit. The solution to that is to trust God more than you fear people. Nancy will talk about it tomorrow. Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

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