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Is Meek for the Weak?

Is the meek person a human mouse infected with a sense of his or her own inferiority? Is meekness a glaring weakness? Last month, in a blog endorsed by many major newspapers and publishers, and listed by Technorati as one of the most popular in the blogosphere, author and psychotherapist Mary Jaksch gave subscribers some advice on “How to Ditch Meekness and Walk Tall.”

According to Jaksch,

The root of meekness is low self-esteem. When our self-esteem is low, we respond to the challenges of life with doubts and fears. … if you were bullied, shut up, abused, or controlled … you may well suffer from meekness. I say ‘suffer’ because meekness doesn’t make you happy; it leads to an unfulfilled life….Meekness lets others rule your life… ditching meekness gives you freedom.

Jaksch, and her company of modern-day psychotherapy friends, would have us believe that meekness is spinelessness and spiritlessness – a doormat-type inclination that invites abuse.  Christian humorist J. Upton Dickson played on this common conception by joking that he was planning to start an organization for the meek called DOORMATS, an acronym for “Dependent Organization of Really Meek And Timid Souls. (Of course, being the meek man that he was, he gave up the plan when someone objected.)

In modern English, “meekness” carries the stigma of cowardly acquiescence. But the meekness of the Bible – the meekness manifested by God and given to the saints – is a strong, active, volitional, courageous attitude.

A Gentle & Meek Spirit

The word meek comes from the middle English meke and the Old Norse mjúkr meaning “soft.” The Greek adverb (prautes) denotes “a mild, gentle, friendly composure.” The adjective variously describes a soothing medicine, a gentle breeze, and a tamed colt. What do all these images have in common? They all describe great power under control. Meekness is submitting ourselves to the Lord, and curbing our natural desire to rebel, fight, have our own way, push ourselves forward, or push back.

Meekness is a disposition that is free of arrogance and pride. It is a calm, peaceful state of mind. The meek person puts up with the weakness of others, and is considerate towards them, enduring injury with great patience and without resentment, trusting in God’s goodness and control over the situation.  Those who are meek control their attitude and response towards others because they are mindful of God.

Like Christ, who did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. Instead, He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. Meekness does not repay evil for evil. Nor does it retaliate when insulted. Meekness overcomes evil with good. Women, in particular, are to clothe themselves with “the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and meek spirit, which is so precious to God.” (See 1 Peter 2:23-3:9)

So is Mary Jaksch right? Is meek weak? Is the root of meekness low self-esteem? Is meekness giving in to fear?  Does meekness lead to unhappiness and an unfulfilled life? Should we work to ditch this disposition? Not according to Scripture. The Bible teaches that meekness contains great power. Meekness would be weakness if it meant yielding to sin. But because it stems from goodness and godliness, it is a great strength.  Paradoxically, it is when we embrace meekness and bow down that we truly walk tall.

© Mary A. Kassian


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About The Author

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian, the founder of Girls Gone Wise, is an award winning author, internationally renowned speaker, and distinguished professor of Women's Studies at Southern Baptist Seminary.

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