LESSON 52.

WHAT IS MEEKNESS?

396.      Meekness has nothing whatever to do with the vices, cowardice and weakness. No one can be meek who is not of royal blood; hence the quality is little understood, and, for the most part, confounding it with weakness, it is taught to women and children and slaves, and despised in men. As truly as our humility has its source in our attitude towards GOD ALONE, so has the virtue of meekness. The first means loyalty to God ALONE as alone to be obeyed; the second means Loyalty to GOD ALONE, as our Judge and King.

397.     To be humble and obey God alone will surely bring tribulation to any human being, sooner or later. It is only a question of time, and we will discover that some human law contravenes God’s laws. We are often told that the days of persecution are past and ended. But why have they ended? Because man has concluded to accept man’s laws as God’s whole will for him. He argues that the laws of his country must be accorded unquestioning obedience; that the laws of a husband must be met by unquestioning obedience by the wife; but it is as true to-day as it ever was that “traditions,” i.e., man-made laws, ever “make void the commandments of God” at all inconvenient points, and it ever will be so.

398.     Let a man or woman determine to wholly follow the Lord, and trouble brews for that person, and such will either get into tribulation, or affect a compromise to escape it. Now let us imagine such an one, who, like his Lord, gives uncompromising testimony, by word and deed, against all sham customs and wicket human legislation. Trouble follows, and now comes the opportunity for meekness. As the man determined to obey God ALONE, now must he allow God ALONE to defend him and avenge his wrongs, growing out of his obedience and loyalty. If the man do this, he is meek; if he turn to human means of defense or vengeance, he is not meek. Only those who know the King as Father, and have royal blood in their veins, are sufficiently “highborn” (because born of God) to endure the test. For this reason meekness is that one virtue which has little reward until the Millennial Age, excepting inward rest. (Matthew 11:29).

399.     What means that silence of Jesus before human potentates? “Jesus held His peace,” is the record of His conduct before the Sanhedrin, Matt. 26:63. Yet He did answer at one point¾when He testified that He was the Christ, the Son of God (v. 64). A little later, Pilate asks Him, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” and He answers with a strong affirmative, but no other questions (Mark 15:2-5). Later, Jesus stands before Herod: “He questioned Him in many words; but He answered him nothing,” Luke 23:9. On one point He gives clear testimony, namely, He is the lawful King of the Jews, and the Son of the King of Kings; but He gives no testimony against His persecutors, nor in His own defense. His case has already been submitted to the Supremest Court of adjudication, and it is not within their power (John 19:11).

400.     To Him there was but one kingdom, His Father’s. His royal blood, and sojourn in a land of which He was not a citizen, forbade His submitting His case to their courts. Not that He was antagonistic to human laws, executed by human rulers, for the children of the heavenly King,¾certainly not for the only begotten Son of that King. His royal blood was not to be overlooked.

Now does this conduct on His part show weakness or strength of character? There can be but one answer. This loyalty to a Royal Father on the part of Jesus Christ, both in His obedience to God alone, and appeal to God alone, is His crown of humility and meekness. Isaiah described it in the words, “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth” (53:7). This meekness is displayed in the conduct of Moses, in that incident which sets him forth as meek above all the men upon the face of the earth,” Here we have, as Dr. Lange has said, “An intimation that he endured in silence and committed his justification to God.” And God at once took up Moses’ defense (Numbers 12).

401.     As Christ’s conduct in the court of human potentates, so was His manner towards common men: “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him [God] that judgeth righteously,” 1 Peter 2:23. He recognized but one King; He knew but one Judge; He knew but one Enforcer of law, just as He knew but one law (the Word of God) to be enforced; and God was His own interpreter and enforcer of His law.

402.     It requires the utmost balance of Christian character to maintain such an attitude as this towards God and towards man; on the one hand, towards the Christian’s King; on the other, towards the rule founded upon military power for this world. The Apostles tell us, “Submit yourselves . . . to the king . . . unto governors,” (1 Peter 2:13, 14;) “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers,” and “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers” (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1). Christ enforced the same lesson, Matthew 5:41, by saying that when compelled to go one mile we must be ready to go two; if sued at court and forced to give his coat to an oppressor, the oppressed must not retaliate, but give his overcoat also. To do this for love’s sake, for harmony’s sake and for Christ’s sake, and yet to recognize always the limitations that God’s law place upon man-made laws, and obey first the higher law,¾this is a narrow path to tread. And yet we know He trod it. We must follow in His footsteps.

403.     He was questioned once in order to determine His attitude towards human governments, and He disclosed it at once. He merely drew a dividing line, as it were, between what is honest and what is dishonest; “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:15-22). For the privilege of using Caesar’s money, without which they could not purchase the necessaries of life, pay an equivalent to Caesar, and no more.[1] But let that sense of obligation cease when Caesar is paid; and let the recognition of that debt involve no disloyalty to the ONE KING¾GOD, in whose image we stand, in Christ Jesus. No dynamite of human invention can ever embosom within itself such revolutionary powers as “meekness” such as this. An intangible spiritual force, it is utterly baffling to crude cannon and rifle of human government, while it always puts the enemy in the wrong, even in his own estimation. Unregenerate man is always an angered and malicious coward in the presence of such a virtue. No wonder the Bible assures us that “the meek shall inherit the earth,” in the age to come.

404.     No fear but God will “avenge His own elect” who trust Him to right their wrongs. Christ so trusted, while His enemies cried. “His blood be upon us, and upon our children.” And so it was, one of their own Jewish historians being the witness. Josephus tell us that within less than forty years after Christ’s death, the streets of Jerusalem, in siege, were impassable by reason of the dead, while the palaces of Jerusalem were packed from floor to ceiling with corpses. At the same time, as many Jews hung on crosses outside the city, as wood could be found on which to impale them. What wonder that, seeing the approaching avenging of His innocent death, Jesus prayed for His tormentors, and wept over the doomed city, crying, “O that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace?” (Luke 19:42, R. V.).

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[1] The earliest Christians refused absolutely to fight for Rome. A Lutheran pastor has lately expressed what amount of compensation the Kaiser requires of his subjects, in these words:  “The crime of the nation against the individual, is not that it demands his sacrifices against his will, but that it claims a life of eternal significance for ends that have no eternal value.”

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