I (through the thoughts of a 17th century Puritan, Matthew Henry) have been trying to convince you of the excellency of a meek spirit. First we considered how “creditable,” or respectable meekness is. Next, think about the comfort of meekness. Meekness is comfortable!
Now comfort is a word that may have slightly different connotations today than it did four centuries ago. If the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word “comfort” is a thick, fuzzy blanket, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. I’m not talking about the endless search to be happy in which our materialistic, hedonistic culture engages. I’m talking about inward comfort. As Henry says, “What is true comfort and pleasure but a quietness in our own bosom?” There you go: when’s the last time you had a bosomful of comfort? ;)
Well, actually perhaps peace, or inward comfort, is really what our world is seeking. 1 Timothy 2:2 explains that if you want to lead a quiet life, you must lead a peaceable life. Matthew 11:29 instructs us to learn of Christ Who is meek and lowly, if we want to find rest for our souls. Philippians 4:5 and 7 connect the two thoughts that if our “moderation” is shown towards other people, God’s peace “which passeth all understanding will keep our hearts and minds.”
Matthew Henry makes some astute observations about the world’s quest for peace and quiet:
Those are most easy to themselves who are so to all about them; while they that are a burden and terror to others will not be much otherwise to themselves.
Quietness is the thing which even the busy, noisy part of the world pretend to desire and pursue….But verily they go a mad way to work, in pursuit of quietness; greatly to disquiet themselves inwardly, and put their souls into a continual hurry, only to prevent or remedy some small outward disquietude from others.
Henry even talks about the inevitable offences that may come from others and reminds of that wonderful verse Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they that love this law of love, for nothing shall offend them.” He says, “Whatever offence is intended, it is not so interpreted, and by that means peace is preserved.”
Meekness is comfortable because a meek and quiet Christian
- enjoys himself
- enjoys his friends
- enjoys his God
- and he puts it out of the reach of his enemies to disturb him in these enjoyments.
He enjoys himself.
At first when I read that thought I wondered if I were still reading a 17th century Puritan, or if someone had taken over this part of the manuscript. But no, this is not the same know-yourself-believe-in-yourself-love-yourself rigmarole that modern thought spouts. Matthew Henry is saying that if your thoughts are calm and rational, your emotions are serene, and your soul is composed in Christ, then you will be free from anger’s effects:
How free from the pains and tortures of an angry man, who is disseized and dispossessed even of himself, and while he toils and vexes to make other things his own, makes his own soul not so: his reason is in a mist, confounded and bewildered, cannot argue, infer, or foresee with any certainty. His affections are on the full speed, hurried on with an impetus which is as uneasy as it is hazardous.
Those who are worried or passionate don’t sleep well, getting up early and staying up late, and they eat too much or too little, being unsatisfied. But the meek “delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:11 Again, meekness helps one to be inwardly comfortable, or to find inward peace, and in that sense, to enjoy oneself.
He enjoys his friends. “And that is a thing in which lies much of the comfort of human life.”
God created us to be social, especially Christians. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together so that we can provoke one another to good works and to encourage one another. “But the angry man is unfit to be so, that takes fire at every provocation.”
Meekness preserves unity amongst fellow Christians, so that distances and awkward feelings, fights and disputes, are happily prevented, and even the beginnings of quarrels are crushed with attention and care. “How necessary to true friendship it is to surrender our passions, and to subject them all to the laws of it, was intimated, perhaps, by Jonathan’s delivery to David his sword and his bow and his girdle, all his military habiliments, when he entered into a covenant of friendship with him.”
He enjoys his God.
And that is the most comfortable of all.
We enjoy God when we have the evidences and the assurances of His favor, the tastes and tokens of His love, when we experience in ourselves the communication of His grace, and the continued instances of His images stamped upon us, and those that are most meek and quiet have usually the greatest degree of this.
“The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” ~Isaiah 24:19
And it is not in the power of his enemies to disturb and interrupt him in these enjoyments.
Remember David as he’s running away from the civil war begun in Israel by his proud son Absalom. Shimei stands near the road to curse David and rain down insult upon injury, rubbing salt in the wounds. But David by his meekness kept his peace, and Shimei was unable to hurt him. “So let him curse,” David said.
“So that, upon the whole matter, it appears that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is as easy [comfortable] as it is comely.”
This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.
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