Friday, December 10, 2010

The Meaning of Meekness

A Measure of Meekness

I desire to be pleasing to the Lord. I fall short in many ways, but to even have a chance of making God happy, I must know what gladdens His heart. When I read in the sermon on the mount where Jesus says:

Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

My attention is drawn to meekness. Jesus valued meekness so much that He said that the meek would receive the entire earth as their inheritance, but what is meekness? Do I know? Is it timidity? Are we to be shy and reclusive like a little mouse? I love to allow Scripture itself to define its own words. The first occurrence of the word ‘meek’ is:

Numbers 12:3
(Now the man Moses was very meek,above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)

My first observation about this verse is that it occurs in the book of Numbers. . . one of the five books of Moses, which were written by Moses. It makes me smile broadly, to think of Moses writing this verse about himself for he would have written this as a response to his brother and sister’s actions just previously:

Numbers 12:1-2
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (2) And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

So Moses brother and sister were angry because he had married an Ethiopian woman. They didn’t like their sister-in-law, so therefore, they were speaking against Moses. . . rising up against him. . . in a manner rebelling against him because of who he had married. More than a family squabble, Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron the high Priest in open rebellion against Moses the leader. . .almost beginning civil war against Moses and it is not recorded that Moses said even a word in his own defense, but God directly intervened into the situation. He called them to come before him:

Numbers 12:4
And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.

Moses had power. He was the de facto King of the Hebrews. He led them out of Egypt against Pharaoh. Moses had power. In his past he had a temper. He killed an Egyptian in a fit of temper. He was not poor. He could surely have commanded large riches for his own personal use.

So if he was not timid and humble and shy like a little mouse. . .what was he. According to Scripture, he was the meekest man on the face of the earth. He did not respond in the face of continual aggravation and provocation. His brother and sister openly rebelled against him for his choice of a wife. The Hebrew people were continually grumbling and griping about everything under the sun. . .throwing it back in his face how much better they had it back in Egypt!!! Where they were slaves. . .were regularly beaten. . .overworked. . . terribly persecuted. . .their baby boys killed. . .and the people had the gall to tell him how much they missed Egypt after the personal risk of Moses and the tremendous miracles God did to deliver them. . .and with one exception, for which Moses paid dearly. . . he did not respond.

Meekness. . .oh what a rich lode to mine! The words ‘meek’ or ‘meekness’ occur 29 times spread over the entire Bible. Wonderful verses which cause me to hunger to more perfectly acquire the characteristic of meekness:

Psalms 22:26
The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
they shall praise the LORD that seek him:
your heart shall live for ever.

Psalms 25:9
The meek will he guide in judgment:
and the meek will he teach his way.

Psalms 37:11
But the meek shall inherit the earth;
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psalms 45:4
And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness;
and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

Psalms 76:9
When God arose to judgment,
to save all the meek of the earth.

Psalms 147:6
The LORD lifteth up the meek:
he casteth the wicked down to the ground.

Psalms 149:4
For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people:
he will beautify the meek with salvation.

He will beautify the meek with salvation. . Boy oh boy!!! You can meditate upon that verse for a long long time before uncovering all its depth of beauty.

In the book of Numbers Moses was called the most meek man upon the face of the earth and he may well have held that title for a thousand years or more, but I don’t believe there is any doubt that his meekness was greatly surpassed by our Savior's, as explained in the following way.

For a person to be truly meek he must have power. I speak each week to men in the jail, who are humbled by their incarceration. Everything has been taken from them, but I don’t believe they can be said to have attained a state of meekness, because they have no options. They have no way of responding to their circumstance. Theirs is a forced acceptance. A slave may have the appearance of meekness, but only because he has not the means to respond. In his heart may burn an inferno of retribution, if only he had the chance. . .

In mulling this over in my mind, I came to the realization that meekness could be measured as an equation with 4 variables.

First: There must be an aggravating circumstance. You must be placed in a situation that causes your flesh to want to rise up and react.

Secondly The magnitude of the circumstance is further enhanced by your responsibility or lack of responsibility for its occurrence. Are you in some way responsible. . .i.e. guilty of something which brought the circumstance on? I don’t believe it counts very highly as meekness if you fully deserve what is happening to you.

Thirdly: What power do you have to react to the situation?

Fourthly: What was your reaction?

Circumstance x Justification x your power to react
Your reaction

Here’s an example of how this might work (numbered on a scale of 1-10):

1. Severity of the circumstance: Wife yells at you for coming home late for dinner 3
2. Your responsibility: You were shopping for a Christmas present for her 10 , but you have a habit of coming home late thereby continually aggravating her and sharing responsibility for some of her reaction -6 for a total of 4
3. What was your power to react: You had complete freedom to react in any way you wanted. 10
4 What was your reaction?
Instance 1: If you sincerely apologized, expressed sorrow at ruining her fine dinner and gave no excuses: 1
Instance 2: If you threw it back in her face that you were shopping for her Christmas present and thereby tried to make yourself the wounded party: 10

The calculations would look like this:
Instance 1 (3 x (10-6) x 10) / 1 = 120
Instance 2 (3 x (10-6) x 10) / 10 = 12

Not a very severe example, but one that might with variations represent events which occur on a daily basis. The magnitude of meekness in the first instance where you meekly accepted you wife’s injury and anger as being your responsibility, your score would be 120. On the other hand allowing your flesh to react to the situation your score would be a not very meek 12. Using 10 as the upper limit for the values, the highest score possible with the greatest provocation, your complete innocence, your capability to react with your full power and no response from you would rate a score of 1000.

Now let’s try to measure the meekness of our Lord. . .

1. Severity of the circumstance:
Made to stand trial in the ultimate of kangaroo courts, beaten, spit upon, whipped with a flesh flaying whip, crown of thorns crushed into his head making him bleed profusely, forced to drag the instrument of his death to the site of his murder, nailed to a cross in hands and feet, stripped of his clothing. . .hanging naked for his mother, his disciples. . . passing children. . .the entire city to see, taunted by the soldiers below to save himself, dieing a tortured agonizing suffocating death. . .???????????????????

2. What was His responsibility:
Not only was He not guilty of any of the charges placed upon Him, He was not guilty of anything ever. . .He never did anything wrong. He was completely and absolutely blameless His entire life. . ..???????????????????

3. What was His power to react:
He created the entire universe. In the past He has reacted. He’s destroyed cities. He has destroyed the entire population earth, less 8, once for our wickedness. With the smallest inclination of His will, He could have completely undone His creation down to the very atomic and subatomic particles. He could have cast us all into fiery hell for eternity. . ..???????????????????

4 What was His reaction?
He did nothing. He spoke no words in His own defense. He ministered to ones who did deserve their fate, up until moments before His death. He prayed for forgiveness for the very ones who pierced his flesh with the nails. . ..???????????????????

Additional extenuating circumstances: He came and took on flesh knowing what would happen. From the moment of creation, when He said “Let there be Light”, as He built the perfect garden of Eden, He knew the agony He would have to endure. He endured it all to make a way for His persecutors to avoid having to pay any price for their crimes against Him. . ..???????????????????

How many zeroes do we have to add to our numbers so that there is any semblance of proportion in our calculation? If what ever pittance I may be called upon to endure is a 10. . . If my perfect justification to react could possibly be a 10. . .If all the power I might muster to be able to react were a 10. . .If my reaction might be as minimal as a 1. . . What numbers must I use to describe what HE endured. . . a thousand. . . a million. . .His meekness is beyond measure. . .

AND!!!!!! His meekness continues today. He knows every injustice. . .He knows every blasphemy. . .He knows every act of total immorality. . .and He endures. . .He waits for the fullness of time. . .He waits. . .He waits. . .He waits. . .He waits. . .

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I cry. . .
I beg you God. . .
Forgive me. . .
I am so unworthy of You. . .
I am so unworthy of everything You have done. . .

I love you God. . .
I love you God. . .


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All in a Name. . .

Over the years of my life I have seen the names of various people and laughed and cried at nearly the same time. . . to go through life as Ima Skunk. Ha Ha. . .What cruelty. How terrible to play such an indelible trick upon your child.

I take great pride in my name. I am the seventh generation of David Stokely. My son, Colin David Stokely, is the 8th generation. We must be getting close to 200 years of this tradition in our family. I value my name. As now being a Christian, I value my name even more. To have the same name as King David of the Bible. . . David the beloved, for that is the original Hebrew meaning. . .loved or beloved. Yes, I treasure my name.

In the Bible names had great meaning and were oftentimes prophetic of the attributes or destiny of the child given the name.

In my devotions this morning, I was in 2 Kings chapter 10 when I read this verse:

Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD

This was spoken by the newly anointed King Jehu of Israel. . . Jehu Stokely was an ancestor of mine. He was one of 3 Stokely brothers who came from England previous to the Revolutionary War. The story goes that my ancestor, young Jehu, on horseback, was attempting to cross a creek in England when his horse refused. Jehu, happening to be on the King’s land, broke a branch off a tree with which to encourage the horse. This was reported and Jehu was found guilty of malicious trespass on the King’s land and sentenced to 7 years in the British Navy. At the end of his term, he left the English Navy at Charlston, South Carolina. This being how our branch of the Stokely family came to the United States.

More of the story of Jehu Stokely can be found at this web page:

But when I read this verse this morning:

Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD

My mind went to the naming of Jehu Stokely. Was he given his name with this verse in mind. Nearly 300 years ago now did a devout young English mother, pray and greatly desire for her son to be zealous for the Lord. . .Does Jehu’s name reflect the dreams and hopes and prayers. . . can I say the fervent faith for the future of her child. Again some nearly 300 years later her choice of name for her son has deeply touched me. It has me thinking of my ancestry and of my legacy. . .

I don’t know much of my family history. I do know that my grandfather, whom I only knew as a scratchy voice over the 1000’s of miles of telephone wire, from a few hurried phone calls in the 1960’s, was a church planter. He and his brother I believe ministered to the Native Americans of Southern California. My grandfather attended or was somehow involved with a church in El Monte, California called: Church in the Barn. At one time I found a reference on the Internet to a diary entry of a lady who had attended this church that my grandpa had attended, but the Internet link no longer works, but in any respect my grandfather Leonard David Stokely had zeal for the Lord and was proud to share it.

Were he alive, what would he think today. . .or is is possible he watches from heaven. . . My first 45 years as an atheist. . . Did my grandpa Leonard pray for me? It comes to me, that as surely as I pray for my children and grandchildren, that my my grandpa whom I never met, would surely have said prayers on my behalf. . .I envision Jehu’s mother praying for him so many long years ago. . .Again Jehu possibly praying for his descendants. . .Grandpa Leonard praying for his sons and daughters. . .and grandchildren. . .I pray for all my kids and grandkids. . .In my minds eye an unbroken river of faith for hundreds of years in our family. . .I weep. . .

Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD

See my zeal for the Lord. . .
Hear my zeal for the Lord. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

I thank you for all the prayers sent up on my behalf. . .
Please Lord, let me not grow weary of praying for my family. . .

Again I love you my God. . .