Meekness: Think Before You React

We are continuing our study of meekness, and God is helping us get the point! Nancy Leigh DeMoss provides our next point to consider!

I faced some recent circumstances which provoked me to anger.  As Debi will testify, I am not an angry person, but on this day with these circumstances I couldn’t help it.  I felt as if a wave hit me that sent my heart reeling with unexpected reactions. Debi was with me and was able to pull away to pray for me.  It’s in moments like these where God gets my attention, and I see what I would be apart from His grace at work in my heart.

We were driving to another state when all of this transpired allowing me time to dissect all that had happened and why.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the way God uses such circumstances to prove a point – to prove a Biblical Truth.  And Debi helped remind me and make the connections.

On our way home, Debi read to me from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ next part of her series on Meekness, and we couldn’t believe the timing of God.

Meekness is shown towards our fellow man who mistreats us, insults us, treats us with injustice, in that the one who is being injured endures patiently and without any spirit of retaliation the provocations that are imposed upon him.

Meekness, according to Matthew Henry, deals with and relates to our feelings of anger. Meekness has to do with how we handle those feelings of anger. He says it doesn’t totally eradicate anger because sometimes there is justified biblical occasion for anger, but the function of meekness is to direct and control our anger so that we may be angry and sin not, as we’re told in Ephesians chapter 4. Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and sin not.”

We were able to pause and reflect together on why I reacted the way I did.  I realize I am not at all in control of how things play out day after day.  I work hard.  I expect a certain amount of return for my investment, but this time it all went wrong.  Even though I did my best.  In moments like these I have no choice but to surrender to God who sees and knows all.  Much easier to say than do.

We have been married for almost 32 years, and this type of reaction is not normal.  I am grateful to have a wife who helps me in my weakness, not by judging me, but helping to lead me to the God who controls all the circumstances with which I am struggling.

Nancy refers to godly meekness as a bridle to our anger.  It doesn’t keep us from getting angry, but it helps us channel it appropriately.

She continues,  “Now the problem with many of us, and I’m certainly wired this way, is I tend to react before I stop and think. That’s where we get in trouble. That’s where we hurt and wound so many people and so many relationships, but meekness causes us to stop and think before we react. It slows us down.”

We have counseled many couples who struggle with anger.  It is like a uncontrollable force that overtakes them and makes them say and do things they will later regret.  But Biblical meekness protects us like a sentinel guarding us from danger.

Matthew Henry says,

Let meekness stand sentinel [let it be a guard over your heart and your tongue in your responses], and upon the advance of a provocation [when we are provoked] let us examine who it is that we are about to be angry with, and for what. What are the merits of the cause . . . what are likely to be the consequences of our resentments, and what harm will it be if we stifle them, and let them go no further?

So he’s saying meekness stands like a guard. Before you let out all this stuff, before you spew, before you say the words to your husband or your kids: “Why did you . . . Why can’t you . . . I can’t believe you . . .” Before any of that comes out, you stop and you think: “Who am I talking to? This is my husband. He is not my enemy. This is my child that God gave to me. I love this child.” Or, “This is a person who was created in the image of God.” You just stop and think, “Who am I going to talk to?” And you think, “What did that person do?”

I wish I had had the time to think through all of this before my confrontation last week.  But God has used it to get my attention on an area of my heart I probably don’t think about enough.

Nancy continues to encourage…

Now, there’s balance in all of this because there are things we stuff that we need to say, and there are things we say that we ought to stuff. Discernment and the control of the Spirit helps us to know the difference. There are some things we should be saying that we’re not, and there are some things we shouldn’t be saying that we are. That’s where we need meekness that causes us to stop and think.

Stop and Think!  If we would simply take the time to do this each time we’re tempted to be angry, think of the conflicts which could be diverted.  It isn’t easy to stop a runaway train in it’s tracks, but God’s Spirit in us makes it possible.

Matthew Henry goes on to say that:

The work of meekness is to calm the spirit so that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.

Outward provocation.  Anyone can be at peace when they are not confronted with difficulty.  But this is not the life most of us live.  Our days are fraught with trouble.  Thus, requiring the help of one altogether not like us.  We need God!  Surprise, surprise!  We need a Savior and Christ has made a way for us to escape this bondage to anger, bondage to sin.

When we are provoked, meekness helps us to remember that we, too, are sinners and in need of God’s mercy. That’s why meekness and humility go hand-in-hand with each other. The humble heart is a meek heart; the meek heart is a humble heart. When we’re being provoked, we’re much more inclined to be conscious of other people’s sins than we are of our own. In fact, that’s just human nature.

We just tend to see each other’s failures through a microscope and our own through a telescope. Right? Meekness causes us to realize that we, too, are sinners, and that we are desperately in need of God’s mercy.

Nancy ends her message with several questions which are very helpful in evaluating our own hearts:

  • How do you respond when provoked by others?
  • How do you respond when they misunderstand you? When someone criticizes you unfairly?
  • How do you respond when someone insults or misunderstands your child or your mate?
  • How do you respond when your plans are blown by someone else’s insensitivity? They didn’t plan, and their lack of planning or their changing plans threw your plans into total disarray. How do you respond?
  • How do you respond when your authority is challenged?
  • How do you respond when your boss corrects you for a mistake that someone else made? Do you feel like you’ve got to point it out, that you’ve got to defend yourself?
  • How do you respond when someone else gets credit for a great idea that you had?
  • How do you respond when someone makes a mistake that costs you.
  • How do you respond when somebody cuts you off in traffic? Road rage.
  • How do you respond when somebody takes advantage of you, rips you off financially.

I want you to be asking the Lord to show you, “What kind of response do I have? Is my response meek? Or is my response angry? Am I receiving these provocations that others bring into my life as being from the hand of the Lord for my good and for His glory? Or am I reacting in a way that is resentful or retaliatory? Is there meekness in my spirit?”

This week’s look at meekness is hitting me hard – right where I live.  What about you?  How is God helping you develop a meek spirit?  We would love to hear from you!



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