“Follow After Meekness”
“But thou, O man of God … follow after … meekness” (1st Timothy 6:11).
The last grace the apostle desires this “man of God” to follow after is “meekness.” And O, what a blessed grace is this! What an exhortation do we find the Holy Ghost giving by the Apostle Peter to the women that profess godliness! “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold” (such as gold necklaces, and watches by the side), “or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1st Peter 3:3-4). O what wise instruction does the apostle give to those wives and daughters that profess godliness! And how he warns them against attiring themselves like the daughters of Belial, and following the women of Canaan in their love of showy and fashionable apparel, while they slight the inward adornings of the Spirit, such as kindness, gentleness, meekness and humility! But how far better are these inward ornaments which the Spirit of God puts into the heart! And how much more comely do they look thus spiritually attired than if loaded with all the finery that the daughters of Belial array themselves in!
But how are we to follow after this grace of meekness? By learning the contrary. I have had at times a contentious spirit, and (more especially formerly) have, no doubt, carried this spirit into the ministry, whilst endeavouring sincerely and honestly to contend for the truth of God. But “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20); and thus, as the LORD the Spirit leads us on, we shall flee from our own spirit, and cease from strife and contention. Not that we shall be a whit less faithful, God forbid! Nay, the more we feel the power of truth, shall we with greater faithfulness contend for it, but we shall contend more in the spirit of meekness. How often have we mistaken false fire for the light and fire of God’s Spirit! and have contended more for our own views, in our own spirit, with many rash and unbecoming words, rather than for the glory of God. But after a time we are led to see that strife and contention, in our own spirit, are contrary to the spirit and temper of the gospel, and are brought to see what a blessed grace the spirit of meekness is. Nay, the very want of it, the risings up of an excited temper; the anger, strife, envy and jealousy that often work in our bosoms, convince us how little we know of “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2nd Corinthians 10:1). We thus feel what a blessing it is to be made humble and submissive; and how impossible it is to enter into communion with a broken-hearted Jesus, till the soul is in some measure weakened by His Spirit. But it is by having a succession of things to try and provoke us, that we learn whether we have meekness or not. The husband can be very meek, while his wife and children are doing everything to please him; but where is his meekness when they thwart and provoke him? The master may be very meek, while the servant is obedient, obliging and attentive; but how is he when things are different? Thus the knowledge of the disease makes us desire the remedy, and by the wretched sensations caused by wrath and evil temper, we are brought to desire an experience of those sweet feelings which gospel meekness produces in our consciences.