Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Meekness in Relationships

Leslie Basham: If there were no God, learning to be meek wouldn’t make any sense. But there is a God who gives us power to learn this important quality. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think meekness is what allows us to just rest in the arms of a God who is there, who is good, who knows what He’s doing.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, June 27.

Nancy’s been taking us through a series called, "The Beauty of Meekness." We’ve learned the importance of this character trait, the difficulty in developing it and how it uniquely affects us as women.

We’ll hear from Nancy in just a minute. First, some audience members have been listening with us and applying meekness.

Dorothy: For me the word meekness means submission. It means to be submissive to what God wants. I’ve come to that place in my life right now where submission means that I need to give up all the things that I really would like to do, to do the things that I do not really feel very efficient at or wanting to do.

I have a husband that’s at home health. The nurse told us this last time they don’t think he will get better but that he probably has Alzheimer’s. I have another son that’s not well with diabetes, and he’s sort of getting to the end stages. He was supposed to have three-way bypass today, and they put that off until next week.

For me that means that I’m going to have to stay home most of the time, and I’m not a nurse by trade nor by heart. So to me this is the place where I am that I really need to learn how to say, “Yes, Lord,” and as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, to do it with joy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We said that meekness is saying, “Yes, Lord.” It’s submitting to the Word of God, but it’s also submitting to the providences of God, to the choices of God, to the circumstances that He brings into our lives and at many different seasons. Miss Dorothy is in her eighties and so she’s facing some circumstances in her life that some of you younger moms wouldn't; your circumstances are totally different.

But meekness is saying, “Yes, Lord. I receive this as from Your hand whatever the season, whatever the circumstance,” and not resisting it, not resenting it, not running from it, but embracing the cross. It's receiving it and realizing that it’s not your husband, it’s not your son, it’s not your circumstance that is your enemy or your issue. They are just instruments in God’s hands.

God has purpose in this. God has purpose in their life. God has purpose in your life. God is shaping; He is molding your life. He is fulfilling His eternal purposes. And so many of those purposes we can never see this side of heaven, this side of eternity.

So meekness is trusting that God knows what He’s doing and bowing the knee, bowing my neck, bowing my heart, bowing my will, saying, “Yes, Lord. I receive this. And if this pleases You, it pleases me.”

And as Miss Dorothy said—here’s where the challenge is for most of us—doing it with joy. I mean a lot of us will do it but there’s this kind of gritting our teeth. I’m just surviving. God wants us doing more than surviving.

Now that doesn’t mean that all the circumstances are joyful or joyous. But it means there’s this supernatural capacity because of the treasure of the life of Christ within us to receive and to respond to those circumstances with joy.

But you know joy is a choice. Now, it’s also fruit of the Spirit, something we can’t manufacture. It’s something God produces in us. But we can choose to say, “I receive the joy of the Lord for this, and in the midst of this I can have His fullnessHis sweetness, His grace, His overcoming power in my life.”

Joetta: Like Miss Dorothy said, it’s sort of an overall progress over the last three years in my life. My mother developed cancer. We had to move her up here from San Antonio. My husband about the same time learned that he was going to be out of a job within a year.

It’s like I immediately went from a nice orderly life where I knew when everything was going to happen, to having no idea what the next day was going to bring forth. My mom passed away in October, so it’s been walking through that.

I have to admit there were times especially towards the end of her life where I was sitting there with her thinking, Lord, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be doing this. This is not something that I enjoy. This is not fun. It’s hard. It hurts. I don’t want to do this.

And one thing that would keep me going is remembering Elisabeth Elliot, what she said in a similar circumstance. She said,

You just have to come when you’re up against the wall, you come to the point where you say, "Either God is God, or He’s not. Either He’s good, or He’s not.”

It’s like the Lord just really forced me into circumstances where I just had to say, “Okay God, I know You’re God. I know You’re good. I don’t like this at all, but I’ll trust in that.”

My husband was talking to me last night and he said, “Doesn’t it bother you? Doesn’t it worry you?”

And I’m thinking, You know, it really doesn’t. I think after three years, the Lord has finally gotten me into a place where I’m just able to say, “No” because I really can trust the Lord that He’s in control and He knows. Something’s going to happen. I don’t know what but something will, and He will take care of me.

Nancy: Joetta used the word control. I do think for most of us as women, that’s a huge issue. We want to be in control. We’re fearful of things being out of control. We’re fearful of someone else being in control or someone else not managing my life well.

We just lose sight of God, and we think about the boss, the job, the husband, the children, the things that we think control our lives. So we say, “No. My life would be in chaos if I let them control it, so I’ve got to control it.”

But sooner or later we learn we really can’t control it. I mean, you can’t control your children. You can’t control your husband. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control your health. We can’t control our circumstances.

So many of us spend a lot of energy and effort just trying to keep the reins, and that puts us in a tizzy. It keeps us frustrated and worked up. And it doesn’t change anything, right?

So joy comes as we relinquish the reins and realize God is in control. He never falls asleep. He never gets off His throne. He is never oblivious to what is going on in my life, not to a single detail. He knows. He is sovereign. He is orchestrating all things according to the counsel of His will and for the display of His grace

We’re safe. I think meekness is what allows us to just rest in the arms of a God who is there, who is good, who knows what He’s doing.

Joetta says, “They don’t know.” For a long time they didn’t know what was going to happen with her mother or when or how. Now with her husband’s job situation they don’t know.

Your husband may have a great job, but you don’t that that he’ll have it tomorrow. We think we know, but you don’t know. We don’t know.

Jeannie: You said a moment ago that joy is a choice. For me, meekness has been a choice. The story that just jumped out immediately when you asked the question was one that took place several years ago. I have been married twenty-six years and I adore my husband, but there was a point in time when I did not.

At about—I’m going to guess—year five or six, I remember despising the man so immensely that using the word hate was not out of the realm of reality. He and I both reached a point of spiritual divorce, where we lived in the same house but only co-existed. We certainly were not thriving in our relationship.

So for any younger women who might be listening, when you experience that and realize that you’re not in love like that first moment or year . . . I think even the best of marriages go through this.

For us, meekness comes into play when we had to choose to part ways or to bow before the creator of relationships. We literally did that. We got on our knees not wanting to, not wanting to hold hands much less pray together, certainly not having any feelings that were connected to our actions.

It had nothing to do with obedience because I certainly had no sense of feeling like I need to obey God’s will. I just knew that at the point in time that I was at a make-it or break-it time in my life and in our marriage.

That was the best decision we ever made because Jesus Christ reminded us that as individuals we have no hope of having a lasting and healthy relationship. For us, meekness at that point meant squelching our own pride, saying, “I’m sure it’s your fault, but I will for a moment allow God to take these circumstances and mend them.”

He did, and He has, and He continues to do that. But for my husband and I, that was a point of coming to the realization that our relationship is made up of three—He and I and our Lord.

Nancy: Jeannie, that was obviously a huge turning point and point of surrender and point of meekness. Did things change immediately? What was it like the next day?

Jeannie: It actually happened to be Valentine’s weekend. We had decided to go away together to make an effort on our own, with our own power. So we continued with those plans. It was a little strained. Nothing miraculous changed in my feelings.

However, my husband and I did begin to make conscious, concentrated effort into being nicer. That’s the day, the weekend that we chose to never speak harshly about one another. Never ever were we to ever allow ourselves to say, “Ugh. Let me tell you what he did.” We’ve stuck to that now twenty-one years, and God has blessed us for that.

Nothing miraculous occurred in our feelings, but definitely something in our mindset changed.

Nancy: At what point did the feelings begin to change?

Jeannie: Not long afterwards. I don’t remember exactly. But I will tell you that within the next six months (at the end of about six months) looking back, he and I could do nothing but feel a need to get back down on our knees. We were so amazed at the change in who we were as individuals as well as a couple.

Nancy: Powerful testimony. Thank you Jeannie, and thank you Lord. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt. 5:5)

You think you’re giving up everything. You think you’re losing. You think you’re surrendering the battle and that suggests that the other person is winning. And who wants to be a loser?Surrender suggests losing, unless it’s in God’s economy.

The way up is down. The way to the resurrection is through the cross. You give up your life; you will gain it. You lay down your rights; God will bless you.

That’s not always in ways that we would write the script. But what a powerful illustration of God’s principles. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn their sin. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (see Matt. 5:3-5).

I just wonder if there’s not a woman here today who . . . You all sit here. You look so nice. You’ve got your name tags on. But I can’t tell what’s going on in your home. I don’t know what’s going on in your marriage.

And to others listening who aren’t in this room today but listening now by means of radio. You may be at the point today where Jeannie was. You despise that man you’re living with. All you can think of are the ways he’s hurt you, of the ways that you’re not compatible.

It may be that now is the time that God is speaking to you and saying, “You need to surrender your rights. You need to bow the knee. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Don’t wait until he changes.”

You say, “Well, he’s not willing to come and hold my hand and pray yet.” Then you take the Lord’s hand, and you get with Him and say, “Lord, even if my husband never bends the knee, I’m willing to bend the knee. I’m willing to take the pathway of humility.”

As an act of faith, as an act of obedience saying, “Yes, Lord,” realizing as Jeannie said that the choice is you lose the marriage, have it your way and go your own way, or you say “yes” to the Lord and see what God can do in restoring the years that the locusts have eaten.

Now God miraculously restored Jeannie’s marriage. And I’ll be quick to say that there are some cases where that doesn’t happen. But I’ll tell you what, it never happens when someone in that marriage is not willing to take the pathway of humility and say, “I yield my rights. I will be faithful to you.”

It’s the little things. Meekness says,

  • We’re going to stop talking ugly about each other.
  • We’re going to stop making put-down comments.
  • We’re going to stop saying unkind things to others about each other.

That’s why we keep giving this 30 day challenge to wives to encourage their husbands. What a huge difference that makes in women’s marriages when they take thirty days just to focus on encouraging and lifting up their husbands instead of putting them down.

Let me say, by the way, your marriage may not be in a crisis today. But if you don’t take little steps of meekness daily in your relationship, you’ll head toward a point of crisis. You can head off the crisis by taking those steps of meekness. And again, don’t wait for the other person.

What we’ve said here in marriage can be true in other relationships—with your adult children, with your teenage children, with your parents, with that in-law, with that boss. It’s the pathway of meekness. It’s not a place of weakness. It’s really our greatest strength and power because Christ is strong in and through us in that relationship.

Woman: I needed to hear that. I’m not at that point of crisis, but I was about three years ago. I did emotionally and somewhat physically leave my marriage for a time. But God used that to really redeem my soul. He helped me to realize that I didn’t know Him at all when I had played the part of a Christian for my whole life, really, grew up in a Christian home.

If you are married, there are struggles. There are conflicts. It happens. And I hate conflict. I hate it. For a long time I would run from it. So I’ve had to learn to turn and face it and to stay engaged as one of my friends sitting out there tells me all the time, "Stay engaged and work through it."

Just yesterday as I sat down in the morning when it was quiet at my house still, and I got up early. A friend had encouraged me; she said, “Just go to the passages about husband and wife relationships, and read them and put that in your mind instead of just constantly striving.”

So I went to Ephesians 5. The phrase that really stuck out to me was before he talks to wives. He says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And then when he says to the wife, “Submit to your own husband as to the Lord,” it just makes it easier when you know that you are submitting to the Lord and not always the person that—what’d you call it?—people that . . .

Nancy: . . . irk you.

Woman: People that irk me. The Lord just really spoke to me through that. It's just good to know that He has me in His hand and He desires that I submit as unto Him.

I can’t say that I love the Lord if I am not loving my husband. That troubles me a lot when I’m struggling to love my husband. I’m like, “I do love the Lord, and I want to love the Lord with all my heart.” So I have to surrender to Him and His plan for me because I know that He uses struggles to sandpaper my character and to make me what He desires me to be.

Maria: What happened for me was last July the fourth of our four kids moved out of state. Now we have four kids in four states, which means no grandchildren down the street. I mean, it’s just different now. I’d heard from another lady about a program assisting disabled people where you equip them for group home living because a lot of times for disabled people, their parents will, of course, die before them.

I mentioned this to my husband. "Isn’t that a nice way of Medicaid funding? It’s a wonderful program."

And he said, “That sounds like something you’d like to do.”

In my mind I’m thinking, No, it isn’t. I’ve not had to work outside the home. I’m an at-home mom, a home school mom. I like my life. I’ve got four kids in four states, and I’m ready to travel.

The second time he mentioned it, Al said, “Have you checked on that program assisting the disabled?”

And I said, “No.”

The third time he mentioned it, the Lord’s going, “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. He wants you to check on this.”

So I asked, “Do you want me to check on it and get the information?” And he did.

I showed up with no appointment. I had capris on. I did everything you’re not supposed to do to get a job. And I had prayed, “Lord, let this please not be a work of the flesh. I don’t want this to be about money. I want my life to count for eternity. I don’t want a part-time job.”

It turns out I’m assisting a twenty-four-year-old disabled young lady who has no church background. I’ve met several in her family. Nobody appears to have any knowledge of God. She’s twenty-four but probably about like a five- or six-year-old. She can read.

But I have had the neatest joy just teaching her how to do simple things like wash your face or brush your teeth and wash your hair. I have granddaughters that you teach like, "You start here, and you do this." You don’t have to do it, but you instruct.

One day as I was helping her, I noticed her feet were very dirty because she’s kind of large, and she can’t even see her little feet. I heard the Lord say, “Wash her feet.” So I got on my knees at the tub and washed her feet.

And it was just like, “Lord, I’m going to wash Your feet.” I mean, I was just repulsed by it to be honest about humility here. And now it’s the sweetest thing.

That doesn’t sound like eternal value, but I’ve taught her to pray. We started reading The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. I read a page; she reads a page. I ask her the questions; she asks me the questions.

We finished that, and now we’re on Every Day with God. When one of our sons who’s a Marine firefighter who fought when the fires were in San Diego. Of course, I had the TV on. I was talking to him (he’s in the tower). “And where’s my daughter-in-law?” This young lady is listening.

When she gets really upset, I say, “Well, let’s tell God because He cares. He loves you. He loves me.” So we were praying about something else she was upset about it (I say the words but she will hold my hand).

And she said, “Don’t forget your son.”

I’m right in the middle of praying, and I said, “What?”

She said, “Your son’s in the fires. Don’t forget your son. Tell God your son is in the fires.”

And I said, “Yes. We will tell God and ask Him to help protect.”

So this has evolved. This spring I got ill for an extended time, and she was worried that I would die because so many people have died. "You go to the hospital and you die."

And so the lady that was covering for me called and said, “She’s really scared that you’re really not there.”

She came to see me and she said, “I’m praying for you.”

Leslie Basham: A meek spirit has a huge effect on those watching. Maria Johnson has been learning that along with all of us who have been a part of the series, "The Beauty of Meekness." She’s been learning it in her interactions at home as well.

I hope you’ll develop a spirit of meekness by learning all you can about it and living it out through God’s power. To help you, we’ll send you a book by the Puritan writer Matthew Henry. It’s called, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.

The language will be a bit strange to some ears, but it’s well worth reading. Nancy has called it one of the best books she’s read, and she’s quoted from it quite a bit during this series, "The Beauty of Meekness."

We’d like to send you The Quest for Meekness when you donate any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Ask for it when you call with your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959. The series "The Beauty of Meekness" wraps up today, so we won’t be making this offer any longer. So be sure to call 1-800-569-5959, or you can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today Nancy mentioned the 30-Day Challenge she’s given to women over the years. You can read all about it and get some ideas for building up your man in a booklet called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. You can order that at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, Elisabeth Elliot shows us how to trust God when nothing seems to make sense.  I hope you’ll be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Elisabeth Elliot: We have to look at these awful facts. The fact of sin and suffering and death. The fact that God created a world in which these things are possible. The fact that He does love us, that He gave us the freedom to choose, and that man decided that his own idea of perfection and joy was better than God's, and therefore, sin and suffering entered into the world. Now we are saying, "Why doesn't God do something about?"

And the Christian answer is, "He did." He became the victim, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

Leslie: I hope you'll be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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