Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Meekness

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1Peter 3:15)

Today I was looking for something in an archive and I came across this verse. The verse was used to affirm how we (believers) are supposed to conduct ourselves in any given scenario when being asked about our faith. This would naturally apply to face to face discussions, as well as the various forms of online interaction (email, forums, chats, blogs, etc.).

I'm just going to assume that pretty much everyone knows what this verse means. I'd guess that most of us would simply say that we're supposed to be patient with people who ask, or be kind to them - but is that what it's really saying?

The English word meekness used here is from the Greek word prautes which means mildness of disposition or gentleness of spirit. Before I go any further here, let me offer up the basic disclaimer that I am not a Greek expert. I can however look up cross references and that's what I tend to do with word studies to see other contexts where the same word is used. In this case, the Greek word prautes is used in this same way, to define an active, ongoing character trait, in 2 other places: James 1:21 & 3:13. You can easily look those up yourself (and you should) but in James 1:21 its used in direct contrast to an abundance of malice or ill will - showing the opposite of such an attitude. Then in James 3:13 its used to describe the character as lived out in his manner of life and conduct, a wise man.

Of course meekness comes from the word meek which we all know doesn't mean wimpy, but rather means confidence in God's providence, rather than self-focused. Taking that a step further, if a man or woman is meek, they don't have any use for blustery language or a pushy attitude, since they know that God is 100% in control of all things, at all times. Out of that knowledge and assurance naturally flows a gentleness towards other people.

As for the word fear used in the above verse, I'm fairly confident that anyone reading this already knows that the word fear means a holy reverance for the seriousness of God, His wrath, His holy word, and His grace & mercy on an undeserving people. I know that for me, the older I get and the more mature I become in Him, the more fear I have of mishandling His word, and the more careful I am to make sure I know what I'm talking about when it comes to that. It's a fear that comes from wanting to rightly divide the inspired word not only for myself but for whatever I write here or elsewhere, what I teach my kids, and how I relay it to anyone else who asks.

So with that in mind, I look back at 1Peter 3:15 and knowing it says that we're to be always ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us about the hope we have - and to do that with a mildness or gentle spirit AND a holy reverence for the things of God...

I have a question, and here it is:

Is there any Biblically supported reason, to disregard this approach, and at any time NOT be meek when dealing with someone who is asking questions?

Yes, it's a serious question and I seriously hope to get some feedback on this one.