Lately I’ve been captivated by Jesus’ call to be meek in the Sermon on the Mount. I’m still trying to grasp what meekness looks like in the life of a person. But looking at Jesus helps, as he’s our prime example of what it means to be human.
After spending some time in James, I was delightfully surprised to read of the intimate bond between meekness and wisdom. Beloved, although the world tells us to be anything but meek, we must listen to our God who says otherwise. This means our prayers are now infused with pleas to grow in meekness.
James has good things to say about why meekness is so captivating and dear to our God:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” Js. 3:13-18.
The ESV follows up on the passage with some great insights:
“Wisdom for James is not merely intellectual but also behavioral. Meekness was considered weakness by the Greeks, but Jesus elevated it to a primary Christian virtue. Meekness comes not from cowardice or passivity but rather from trusting God and therefore being set free from anxious self-promotion. Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition are the antithesis of true wisdom as characterized by “meekness.” The envious yearn for what does not belong to them and selfish ambition is a divisive willingness to split the group in order to achieve personal power and prestige.
The answer to the “disorder” is to seek wisdom from above, which produces character qualities beginning with purity and concluding with peace. Purity is the primary virtue, with the rest providing aspects of this moral purity. Peaceable is the polar opposite of selfish ambition and the discord it produces. The legacy of those who bring peace rather than conflict is a harvest of righteousness. The “fruit” that comes from peacemaking in the Christian community will be the righteous conduct that God will bless.”