Sometimes I have remembered my bad or inadequate reactions to an occurrence with shame, and excused myself with the thought, “If only I had known! I would have been better prepared for how to handle that; I would have planned what to say.” But there is a particular grace, a virtue, that God gifts us that will help us to be prepared for what will come in the future. Here are five ways that meekness prepares us:
- It makes us fit for any duty.
- It makes us fit for any relation which God in His providence may call us into.
- It makes us fit for any condition.
- It makes us fit for a day of persecution.
- It makes us fit for death and eternity.
Fit for Any Duty
It [meekness] puts the soul in frame and keeps it so for all religious exercises. There was no noise of axes and hammers in the building of the temple: those are most fit for temple service that are most quiet and composed. The work of God is best done when it is done without noise.
I want to sarcastically and loudly “Amen” that last sentence, since I’m writing currently in the peace of a quiet household (my husband having just removed all four hindrances to my peace in writing one hour ago). But mothers will object that if the work of God is best done without noise, then we will never be able to do God’s work well; because our houses are filled with running feet, crying, arguing, jollification, and the gamut of emotions displayed with no attempt at self-control or meekness.
But Matthew Henry is not talking about outward noise so much there, but our inward noise, the noise in our soul that constantly screams at us, covering up any pretense at a state of rest, acceptance, or calm. We already discussed that meekness calms our spirit so that inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation. So when we are practicing a meek and quiet spirit, we will be more ready to do God’s work.
Also remember that meekness prepares us to receive the Word. And prayer is another duty for which meekness prepares our attitudes. Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24, “First, go and be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew Henry adds, “And if we do not take this method, though we seek God in a due ordinance, we do not seek him in the due order.”
Meekness helps us to preserve unity with fellow Christians, which makes us more fit for communion with God. Meekness is steady–still, consistent, constant–which makes you more energetic and strong for your other tasks.
Fit for Any Relation
Matthew Henry breaks down relationships into three memorable categories, relating meekness to each: superiors, inferiors, and equals, and he maintains that meekness makes you fit for any of those relationships.
Meekness would greatly help to preserve the wisdom and due authority of superiors, the obedience and due subjection of inferiors, and the love and mutual kindness and serviceableness of equals. A calm and quiet spirit
- receives the comfort of the relation most thankfully,
- studies the duty of the relation most carefully,
- and bears the inconvenience of the relation (for there is no unmixed comfort under the sun) most cheerfully and easily.
I have heard of a married couple, who, though they were both naturally of a hot and hasty temper, yet lived very comfortably in that relation by observing an agreement made between themselves, “Never to be both angry together.” This is an excellent law of meekness which, if faithfully lived up to, would prevent many of those breaches among relations which occasion so much guilt and grief and are seldom healed without a scar. It was part of the good advice given by a pious and ingenious father to his children newly entered into marriage:
Doth one speak fire? t’other with water come;
Is one provoked? be t’other soft or dumb.
And thus one wise, both happy. Two indeed are better than one, and yet it is better to dwell alone in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry relation “who is like a continual dropping in a very rainy day.”
Fit for Any Condition
Here, Henry reminds of us Paul who said he had learned how to be content in all circumstances and says, “Changes without made none within.” This section reminded me of the instructive section on being meek towards God, in submitting our souls to His providence concerning us, even when they are “grievous and afflictive” or “dark and intricate,” or in other words, hard to understand.
Fit for a Day of Persecution
Scripture warns us that tribulation and persecution will arise because of the Word and that all godly Christians will suffer persecution. Henry contrasts what we can often say with what we should say:
We are accustomed to say, “We will give anything for a quiet life.” I say, anything for a quiet conscience which will be best secured under the shield of a meek and quiet spirit “which doth not render railing for railing” (1 Pet. 3:9), nor aggravate the threatened trouble, or represent it to itself in its most formidable colors…
Here Henry reminds us that the meek and quiet Christian will be more prepared to have the proper emotional response to persecution–joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is in my view a litmus test of the virtue of meekness, and I struggle to comprehend a joyful response (instead of terror) in persecution.
Fit for Death and Eternity
This was an interesting section on how meekness prepares us for a quiet place (the grave, or Heaven).
The meek and quiet soul is at death let into that rest which it has been so much laboring after; and how welcome must that needs be!
“A good man” (says the late excellent Archbishop Tillotson…), “would be loath to be taken out of the world reeking hot from a sharp contention with a perverse adversary; and not a little out of countenance to find himself in this temper translated into the calm and peaceable regions of the blessed, where nothing but perfect charity and good-will reigns for ever.” Heaven, for certain, is a quiet place, and none are fit for it but quiet people.
Not only would we not want to go to Heaven straight from a contention on earth, but Seth has also reminded me during some contentions with fellow Christians in the past that someday we will love and rejoice together with those people in Heaven, and shouldn’t that temper our feelings towards them now during the heated situation?
So meekness prepares us, makes us fit, for whatever duty, relation, or condition, even persecution or death, that we may be called into by God’s providence. Be prepared! Be meek.
This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.