Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Character Close-Up: Meekness (Part 2)

Alright, so I split the study on meekness up into two parts because it got sooo long.  In part two, I answer the third and last question about meekness: How do we cultivate meekness.

Finally, how do we attain meekness?  I'll admit, this was probably the hardest question for me to answer.  I've turned to So Much More, which, if you've read any of my other posts, should be pretty familiar to you as well as other resources.

I read an article once about gaining humility.  A reader of the magazine was asking how to gain humility.  Ironically, the author staunchly argued that asking how to gain humility was just the opposite of what you should do to gain it!  In fact, he said that you shouldn't be thinking about your own meekness, or your own anything.  Humility is attained when one thinks about others, not himself.  The author advised the reader to stop wondering how to attain his own humility and focus wholeheartedly on others.  It makes sense!  To really forget about yourself, one must stop thinking like that.

So, I think the most basic thing one can do to gain humility is to focus on others and stop caring for himself.

The writers of So Much More present an example of what a meek woman looks like, and I think it should help us to see what we can do to attain it.

"A woman with a humble heart doesn't seek her own glory and will not parade her greatness before others or try to "prove herself."  Rather, she recognizes that she is nothing without God and seeks His glory alone."

"A humble woman actively seeks to discover areas of her life she can change and repent from.  Moving ever higher in godliness is her goal."

Okay, so first we mustn't seek our own glory or parade our greatness or try to prove ourselves.  Second, we must recognize our nothingness without God.  Third, we must seek His glory alone.  Fourth, we must seek to discover areas of our life we can change.  Fifth, we must always continue to repent from our sins.

Surely, the best example of humility we have is Jesus Christ.  He came to earth from His splendor and served the least of men.  Lepers, prostitutes, hated tax collectors, all the people who were shunned in society were touched by His love and healing.  He washed feet, blessed children, and basically did what no one else would do.  He went to the cross and died a cruel death for people who hated Him.  How much meekness did that take?

Philippians 2:5-9 – "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:"  

And so we have found out how to become meek.  We must recognize how pathetic we are and how awesome God is.  We must continually grow and repent.  We must strive to have the mind of Christ.  I don't think we will ever gain His perfect meekness, but God will reward those who are humble, exalting them.  I will end this with a quote I found which sums up the study of humility really well.

"They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud." – John Flavel

I stumbled across this article while researching this post which is an extremely well-written article concerning pride vs. humility. 

xo, Ella

Monday, June 24, 2013

Character Close-Up: Meekness (Part 1)

Hello!  So, in keeping with our theme of surrender and laying aside our will this month, I thought that it would be appropriate to study the character trait  of meekness.

I'm going to try and adhere to a sort of outline for this post because I think a post defining something should be easy to follow.  First, I'm going to explain what the word meekness means using three dictionaries which are all quite a bit different from each other.  Second, I'll provide verses from the Bible on why we should cultivate meekness, and third, I'll explain how to cultivate meekness. 

Okay, let's get started.  (As a disclaimer, throughout this post, I will treat humility and meekness as the same thing)

First, what is meekness exactly?  To the world, it doesn't seem like a quality anyone would want to try and cultivate.  As we shall see, it is one of the most essential character traits in the Christian life.  To define meekness, I turned to the 1828 Webster's Dictionary.

From the 1828 Webster's:
Meekness: Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; forbearance under injuries and provocations.
1. In an evangelical sense, humility; resignation; submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness; opposed to pride, arrogance and refractions.

Still from the dictionary:

Meekness is a grace which Jesus alone inculcated (taught persistently) and which no ancient philosopher seems to have understood or recommended.  

Boy, I wish today's dictionaries referenced the Bible!  There's one point I want to highlight in this definition.  Notice the part where it says "submission to the divine will."  This is the surrendering part!  You can't live a surrendered life without meekness!  The two go hand in hand.  

Alright, at this point I'm going to insert a quote that I think illustrates meekness very well.

From Christianity Today - Strength in Meekness, "Perhaps meekness is strength that is submitted to an appropriate authority."

Okay, now we know what meekness is.  Second, let's investigate why it's so important.  (all verses KJV)

James 1:21 – "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls."

This verse tells us that unless we are meek, we won't be able to receive God's Word.  That's a fairly scary place to be!

Psalm 149:4 – "For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation."

Oh boy.  Meekness really is important, isn't it?  God will give salvation to the meek.  Think about it, though.  It makes complete sense.  Salvation requires a confession and a change.  To receive it, one must realize how small and detestably filthy he is before God.  He must be broken.  A proud man can't do that!  I heard a testimony several weeks ago that testified to that very fact.  If one thinks he is good enough, that he's fine like he is and doesn't need saved, then he absolutely won't be!  God can't work in the heart of one who thinks he's "okay."  When I realized who I was before God, and realized my sins, I felt far from proud.  Meekness is absolutely necessary for salvation!

Psalm 25:9 – "He [God] guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way."

Again, God can't teach a proud heart.  He can't guide us or teach us or mold us if we're hard.  We will never become who He wants us to be if we don't let Him change us.  

Matthew 5:5 – "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

If we're meek, then our reward is great.  We will inherit the earth.  The new earth in God's kingdom.  Such a reward sounds worth it to me!

In part two of this post, I'll wrap up by answering the third and last question.  It was just getting way too long!  xo, Ella

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Oh dear.  Where did time go?  'Last I knew, it was barely May.  Cliché though this may sound, time seems to be flying faster than ever.  Anyway, things will hopefully slow down and I'll be blogging more consistently.  But for now, I'm taking an opportunity to put down what's been going on.

A few weeks ago, I decided that the thing I'm struggling the most with as a Christian is spending time with God every day.  I have such a hard time making it a priority.  Oh, I always have the best intentions, but somehow I always put something else first and forget all about praying or reading.  I always regret it, because I feel empty and distant from God when I've skipped a few days.  At Girls' Camp last week, the counselors put on a skit about the difference between a girl who did make her quiet time a priority and those who did not.  I admit, I bawled.  It was speaking directly to me and it was absolutely what I needed to wake me up on that particular part of my walk.  Not surprisingly, the theme of Girls' Camp this year was "Wake Up."

That was the first revelation for me.  The next came while I was reading my Bible last week.  Now before I go any further, a little backstory is necessary.  The past oh, 6 months my prayer has been that God would give me an opportunity to share my testimony with someone or for God to place someone in my path who I'm supposed to talk to about Him.  There were a variety of reasons that inspired this prayer, but today we're going with the abridged version.  Anyway, I had been praying this prayer for a while and nothing was really happening.  I was reading my Bible though, last week, and God revealed to me why He hadn't given me the opportunity I was asking for.  I had been reading a lot about love.  While I was sitting there thinking about it, something occurred to me.  God had just taught me a poignant lesson about spending time with Him.  Now He hit me with some verses about love.  I concluded that He was working on preparing me.  Maybe I wasn't ready to share my faith with someone. 

I read a book this past year in school called "Experiencing God."  In it the author mainly talked about knowing God's will and doing it.  That's how he described experiencing God.  A certain thing in the book that struck me then came back to me last week.  "Some people want God to give them an assignment to do for Him.  They vow that they will do whatever He asks.  But when God observes their lives, He notices that they have not been obedient in the things He already has told them to do."  Bam!  It hit the nail on the head.  I had asked for an assignment, but when God looked at my life, He noticed that I hadn't been prioritizing my time with Him, He realized I hadn't been loving those around me like Corinthians illustrates, and who knows what else He'll reveal to me.  If He had given me an assignment 2 months ago, would I really have been as willing as I thought I was to do whatever He had asked? 

God's ways are so different than ours and even though this is such a minute circumstance, I have an opportunity to trust Him in this area.  I'm excited to see where He'll take me this year.  May 8th marked a year since I gave my life to God.  My prayer then and still is that He'll do great things through me this year.  I prayed that He'll work in my heart that I can touch others for Him.  I prayed that His will would be fulfilled in a small part through me.  That's an exciting, if not slightly scary, prayer.  I don't know where He'll want to use me or what He'll do through me, but I'm excited to be serving a God whose plans are beyond the limits of our imagination.  May 8th wasn't even that long ago, and look what He's already taught me!  When May 8th comes around next year, I wonder where I'll be.  I hope I will look back and see that I had let God work through me.

So, that's my thought dump for today.  Hopefully I'll finally have some time this week to work on my next post on meekness.  xo, Ella