Having a meek heart can help prevent anxiety and give you peace in Jesus.
How many times in the last year and a half since this universal trial we’re all facing called COVID and global unrest has been upon us have you found yourself anxious, angry, scared, or fighting against it in your heart?
Or, have you responded to it all with a tranquil heart—one that is at rest, trusting that the Lord is at the helm, enabling you to live your life in peace, faithfully carrying out your everyday work?
I’ll bet that you were able to answer my question with, “Well…when it all started, I was more anxious, angry, and scared. But the Lord has helped me rest in Him, trusting Him with our health, our income, etc.”
Maybe you would even say that there have been times that you experience rest and other times you’re anxious and fearful.
As disciples of Christ, we are to imitate Him in every way, including in the oft-misunderstood characteristic of meekness.
God Cares Most About the Heart
How we respond to all of life is an outworking of what’s inside. Every circumstance the Lord brings our way presents an opportunity for us to steward our hearts and the situation well.
Our behavior is important! We are to have holy conduct, but it will flow out of a meek heart.
Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:1-6 to help us:
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (1Pe 3:1-6 ESV).
Did you catch the value God places on a meek heart?
Throughout his letter, Peter emphasizes how precious the blood of Jesus is, and he’s using the same word here–God considers a gentle and quiet heart as precious as the blood of Christ!
Not only that, He sees our heart, and he considers it precious. He also says that a gentle and quiet heart is of imperishable beauty. We all want to be beautiful, don’t we?
So what comes to your mind when you hear the word meek? Mousy? Doormat? Wimpy?
Nothing could be further from the reality of the strength meekness requires!
“Meekness, not in a man’s outward behavior only nor in his relations to his fellow man or his mere natural disposition, rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul and the expressions of it are first and chiefly toward God. That attitude of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist…a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness not in weakness but in power. It is a virtue born of strength and character.”
Meekness is a condition of the mind and heart, and it’s cultivated in us through the empowering grace of God.
Because it’s an inwrought grace worked by the Lord, it means that even though I am a more naturally quiet and gentle person outwardly, I don’t naturally have a heart that is tranquil and undisturbed, accepting everything God brings my way.
God has to work this grace in me just as much as anyone else! I do think that similar to other characteristics like cheerfulness, some are wired to more easily conform to Christ in this way—we all have these things.
In college, I did a word study in Greek from 1 Peter when, in ch 3, he speaks of having a gentle and quiet heart. In the margin of my Bible, I wrote out the two definitions:
- Quiet – tranquility arising from within, causing no disturbance to others. Meek, undisturbed.
- Gentle – The attitude of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.”
Now, these two definitions imply governance of the passions. Self-control, self-restraint. By nature, we are not quiet and gentle people, in the way that God defines it.
This is important because it means that a heart of meekness must be cultivated.
In 1 Peter, he is writing to exiles who are suffering persecution and other hardships, and at this point in his letter of talking to the women, he’s fully aware that there are likely husbands compromising or struggling underneath the outside pressures of life that are getting heavier and hotter by the day, or they’re outright rebelling against the Lord.
He knows that what he’s calling these women to isn’t easy.
Holy Women Hope in God
But he also knows if they are cultivating tranquil hearts that aren’t disturbed by their circumstances, they can have the respectful and pure conduct he wants them to have.
He explains that this is how the “holy women hoped in God.” The Greek word for hope that he uses means to “expect with desire, and to hope in the manner of trust, to confide—or to have confidence.
In other words, the holy women had a dependent, confident trust in God. Not just that He saw their heart and their desires, and their circumstances (which is huge!), but they were confident in who He Is and what He could do.
They trusted in and feared God MORE than anything else—more than things that are frightening, like a husband whose cheese may be flipping off his cracker.
This is why a gentle and quiet heart is so precious to God. We can choose (because it is a choice) to fear any number of things. But when we choose to fear HIM, it’s so precious to Him.
And, this fear of God is what enables us to exercise the self-government that meekness requires.
Consider this for a second–if the holy women that Paul referred to did this, who did not yet have the Holy Spirit, how much more can we, who have the Holy Spirit –the resurrection power of Jesus in us–live like this?
So, if I were to write my own definition of meekness, it would be something like, “a gentle, undisturbed heart governed by dependence on and strong confidence in God.”
How Do We Cultivate Meekness?
The most important aspect to the cultivation of a meek heart is that of seeking the Lord. We must be in His Word every day. We become what we behold, and if we are not beholding Christ, we will behold someone or something else. He is our example.
We can’t have a meek heart in our own strength, but an increasing desire for it does help us pursue it.
Matthew Henry says that we should “pray to God by his Spirit to work in us this excellent grace of meekness and quietness of Spirit.”
Second, we need to understand that God allows and designs suffering to help us grow in meekness.
I appreciate Elisabeth Elliot’s definition of suffering: “having that which you do not want, and wanting that which you do not have.”
That pretty much takes care of all forms of suffering!
According to Peter, there are at least five purposes in our suffering:
- To work sin out of us (1 Peter 4:1)
- To make us more like Christ (1 Peter 2:21, 3:16)
- To make us more dependent on Him (1 Peter 4:19)
- To help us treasure Christ more (1 Peter 4:19)
- To test our faith and give abundantly from His own heart (1 Peter 5:10)
The irony of suffering LOSS is that we have the opportunity to GAIN so much if we don’t fight against the trial the Lord brings into our life (it’s really a wrestle against Him).
It’s meant to help our faith grow. If we never experience suffering, our faith will be weak!
Understanding these purposes will fuel our desire to have a meek heart. And it will help us endure any degree of suffering we encounter rather than despising it, avoiding it, or just being irritated by it.
A huge part of cultivating a meek heart involves baptism by fire, real-life experiences that both test and strengthen our muscles.
Lastly, we should, as Matthew Henry says, “Be often repenting of our sinful passion, and renewing our covenant against it.”
We all struggle with being provoked, and with lacking meekness! The Christian life is a life of regular repentance, not just a one-and-done deal. This will keep us both sober-minded and humble.
So, let’s be women who ask God to work in us this “excellent grace of meekness.”
It will not happen overnight. It will take time, indeed, a lifetime. And, we grow in it as we practice it. Our muscles will be strengthened, even in the times when we may fail—I love how the Lord does this!
 Hebrew-Greek Study Bible, Spiros Zodhiates
 Henry, Matthew. The Quest for Gentleness and Meekness of Heart.
 Henry, Matthew. The Quest for Gentleness and Meekness of Heart.