No. 49 Vol. 1Sun 13 March 2022Price: 0/0d

Musings on Meekness

pointing finger Sensible Ramblings >> Sun 13 March 2022 by Thran

It is held that meekness means always avoiding confrontation. In Matthew 5v5 (KJV), we read:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Evidently, one wouldn't want to miss such a blessing. There isn't a bigger prize in this life than inheriting the earth. But when met with the practicalities of living in an imperfect world, is it desirable to be passive?

I'll argue that meekness is actually moderation and discretion, and it isn't true to argue that the Bible commands pacifism.

The dastardly danger

The Bible presents itself as a coherent revelation. This is how one gets the best interpretation from it. If we split it apart and say it is full of contradictions, then its usefulness diminishes and we lose respect for it, both as a great work of antiquity and as a religious guide.

Arguing for or against its divine origin is well above my mind and well outside the scope of this article. But this idea that the Bible is coherent informs how we resolve any supposed contradictions. So in this case consider that we can't be both righteously angered and meek at the same time, all the time.

This is to ask, does meekness mean complete passivity all the time, or does it mean something else? The concept "meekness" exists this way in most people's minds, but believing this is plainly destructive because you won't resist the evil people in your life, and this will cost you severely while enabling them in their evil [Proverbs 24:11–12]. If we say we must love the good and hate the evil [1 Corinthians 13:6, "Love rejoiceth not in iniquity"] [Proverbs 8:13, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil"] then this idea is incompatible with love, so it stands that meekness is not passivity. There is nothing powerful in doing nothing.

Also consider that there are those who benefit immensely from the belief that meekness is passivity. It gives cover for their deeds and ensures your silence. As a straightforward witness against this, the Bible also commands honesty, which entails the very opposite of this. Honesty demands speaking your mind, especially against evil. Hard but necessary conversations don't flow from a timid soul.

Ruled by your rufflers

The commentaries on this passage note that to be easily provoked is to be ruled by your provocateurs. This commentary on Matthew 5v5 puts it in more words:

He that is constantly ruffled; that suffers every little insult or injury to throw him off his guard and to raise a storm of passion within, is at the mercy of every mortal that chooses to disturb him.

This suggests that the passage is teaching that meekness is self-restraint, that you have control over your passions and aren't ruled by them in every moment.

This idea is mentioned elsewhere: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" is Ephesians 4v26. I understand this to mean that when anger comes, it can be helpful in the moment in helping us respond to a threat or to evil. But anger is not to dominate our thoughts, or it will distort our perception and we'll become vengeful. What it doesn't say is that anger is always wrong.

The running theme here is self-control, knowing which response is appropriate when. Self-control means one isn't easily controlled by others, which is true freedom and mastery of the soul. This is a much greater virtue than pacifism because it gives its owner gravitas.

Amassed gravitas

Think of someone with gravitas, everyone knows his capabilities but he chooses when to exercise it carefully. This can move others in powerful ways, if you've ever been in the presence of such a person. When he does act it has much more effect. But for this reputation to exist these capabilities must be known, which means occasionally demonstrating this ability.

If you've ever been around anyone who is mighty or very competent, and clearly could do much damage if he wanted, but chooses to use his gifts very carefully and very responsibly, that person is much more influential and respectable than anyone who is aggressive or violently dominant. This is comparable to Christ, who was himself God, but laid his full power aside during his earthly ministry and crucifixion. He wasn't always passive or silent, but when he was it was to great effect. This is a worthy example to follow.

Life is not a constant and we should not have the same attitude to every season.

Tags for this writ:

religion, christianity, bible, virtue,