Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Developing a Meek Spirit

Dannah Gresh: Meekness isn’t always appreciated, according to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: 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? Then you’ve got to pursue something that’s countercultural.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Tuesday, July 6, 2021. I'm Dannah Gresh.

One of the most misunderstood biblical qualities is meekness. Candidates running for public office never tout their meekness as a reason to vote for them. It doesn’t seem to us like a desirable quality.

Well, as we’re about to hear, 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. As I think back over these weeks, I’ve been more conscious . . . I don’t think it’s that I’ve been less meek in recent weeks. I think I’m just thinking more about the times when meekness is in short supply in my life.

A lot of times it’s thoughts that no one else would know. It’s ways of evaluating things, ways of looking at things, getting my feelings hurt. It’s something I might not say to someone else but I have found myself a little oversensitive at points and realized at times that’s because there’s a need for meekness in my heart.

But then invariably what’s in our hearts comes out and 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.

I thinking about an email I sent this past week. I was in a hurry. I was off to an interview and just dashed out a quick response. As I was doing it, the thought was, “That needs to be worded a little differently.” It was a critical or negative assessment of a situation. One phrase, one line, but I went ahead and pushed send. It wasn’t about the person I was sending it to. But just pay attention to the Holy Spirit. He’s there to help us, to enable us. I overstepped the bounds of the Holy Spirit in my life.

In this case it was along the lines of something I’ve struggled with a lot over the years and that is being dogmatic, opinionated, and being very quick to express my opinions in sometimes negative ways. Anyway, I went back to the person I sent the email to in that next day or so and just said, “I sent that too quickly. I should have worded that differently.” So I’ve been picking up some pieces of lack of meekness in my life.

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 wake 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 countercultural 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 countercultural. 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 countercultural.

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.

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.

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been praying for the Lord to develop meekness in us. She mentioned a book by Puritan author and pastor Matthew Henry, titled The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. You can find out how to get a copy by finding the transcript of today’s program at ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ve also distilled some great nuggets from that book, and they’re posted on our website, too. Again, there are links to the book and the quotes in the transcript of this program.

We’re bringing you this series on meekness as a part of our month-long emphasis on being kind. A meek, quiet spirit is an essential part of expressing kindness, isn’t it? During this month, when you contact us to make a donation, we’ll say thank you by sending you a copy of a booklet by Nancy called A Deeper Kind of Kindness. In it she shows us how the kindness of Christ toward us should motivate the kindness we show to others. Ask for your copy of Nancy’s booklet on kindness when you contact us with your donation. To do that, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

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.

Dedicated to helping you develop a meek spirit, 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.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.