But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…. — Galatians 5:22,23
Few people think of “meekness” as a desirable attribute. Most assume that if a person is “meek,” he must be “weak.” To these people, a meek person is one who is timid, shy, bashful, or perhaps introverted.
But this is a grossly incorrect view of the New Testament word for “meekness.” In actual fact, “meekness” is one of the strongest attributes a person can possess, with a unique strength that has a dramatic impact on all it touches. In Galatians 5:22 and 23, meekness is listed as one of the fruits that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. These verses tell us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness….”
So what is “meekness?” The word “meekness” comes from the Greek word prautes, which depicts the attitude or demeanor of a person who is forbearing, patient, and slow to respond in anger; one who remains in control of himself in the face of insults or injuries. In the Greek language, the word prautes (“meekness”) conveys the idea of a high and noble ideal to be aspired to in one’s life. Although an injurious situation may normally produce a rash or angry outburst, a meek person is controlled by kindness, gentleness, mildness, or even friendliness.
The word “meekness” pictures a strong-willed person who has learned to submit his will to a higher authority. He isn’t weak; he is controlled. He may in fact possess a strong will and a powerful character; he may be a person who has his own opinion. But this person has learned the secret of submitting to those who are over him. Thus, he is one who knows how to bring his will under control. In rare instances, the word prautes (“meekness”) was used to describe wild animals that had become tame because it correctly conveyed the idea of a wild, fierce will under control.
This means when the Spirit is producing meekness in your life, you are controlled even in difficult circumstances. Rather than fly into a rage and throw a temper tantrum, you are able to remain silent and keep your emotions and temper under control. If you find yourself in a situation that you fiercely believe is wrong, you are still able to stay silent until the appropriate moment to speak or until you have been asked for your opinion. You know how to control yourself and your emotions.
In addition to these meanings, the word “meekness” was also used in a medical sense to denote soothing medication to calm the angry mind. A meek person doesn’t project the countenance of one who is offended, upset, angry, or reactive to insults or injuries. Instead, he is so gentle and mild in his response that he becomes soothing medicine for the angry or upset soul, or for a troublesome or unsettling situation.
So take a moment to examine the way you respond to insults, injuries, or volatile situations. Do you find that you are often a contributor to a heated and potentially explosive atmosphere? Or does your presence bring peace into the midst of the conflict? When others say or do something that could offend you, do you quickly retort with a harsh answer, or are you able to control your emotions and temper, remaining silent until a more appropriate time to speak?
The flesh loves to rage out of control, but when meekness is being produced in you by the Holy Spirit, it will make you careful and controlled. Your very presence will become God’s soothing medication for angry, upset people, and you will impart peace to situations that hitherto were unsettling and unstable.
Paul goes on to mention “temperance” next in his list of the fruit of the Spirit. But doesn’t “temperance” have almost exactly the same meaning as the word “meekness”? What is the difference between these two fruits of the Spirit?
As noted above, the word “meekness” has to do with the attitude or demeanor of a person who can control his temper or emotions. But the word “temperance” comes from the Greek words en and kratos. The word en means in, and the word kratos is the Greek word for power. When compounded into one word, these two Greek words form the word enkrateia, which literally means in control and denotes power over one’s self; hence, it is often translated as the word “self-control.” It suggests the control or restraint of one’s passions, appetites, and desires.
Just as a meek individual can control his attitude, a person with temperance has power over his appetites, physical urges, passions, and desires. Because the Holy Spirit has produced temperance in his life, he is able to say no to overeating, no to overindulging in fleshly activities, no to any excesses in the physical realm. A person with temperance maintains a life of moderation and control. The word enkrateia — “temperance” — could be thus translated as restraint, moderation, discipline, balance, temperance, or self-control.
You can see how opposite temperance is to the works of the flesh. If the flesh is allowed to have its way, it will over-worry, overwork, overeat, overindulge, and literally run itself to death. But when a person is controlled by the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit produces in him a discipline over the physical realm that helps him sustain his physical condition, stay in good health, remain free from sin, and live a life that is moderate and balanced.
Now that you better understand the meanings of the words “meekness” and “temperance,” consider how well you’re doing in allowing the Holy Spirit to produce these two spiritual fruits in your life. Do you demonstrate that you can control both your temper and your physical appetites and urges? Are you able to restrain your emotions and keep your flesh under control? Or would you have to honestly say that you have a hard time controlling your emotions and that your flesh is running the show?
Take a good look at yourself today to see if meekness and temperance are being produced in you. And if the answer is no, take some time today to ask the Holy Spirit to start producing these two powerful fruits in your life!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I am so thankful that You are patient with me as I learn to walk in the Spirit and to produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life. Every day I am becoming more aware of my need to be changed. It is very evident that I cannot change myself without Your help. I know that I need meekness and temperance in my life. When I look at myself in the mirror, my physical image even tells me that temperance is greatly lacking in me. So today I am sincerely calling out and asking You to help me move up to a higher level of life. Produce these powerful, life-changing fruits in me. Change me, I pray!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am becoming more and more controlled in my emotions and my physical life. Restraint, moderation, temperance, discipline, self-control — all of these are becoming a part of who I am and how I behave. The nature and character of Jesus Christ are being developed in me. The spiritual fruits of meekness and temperance are changing me — bringing peace to every situation I encounter and producing health in me as I learn to be moderate in everything that I do!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Do you have the testimony of being soothing medicine for the angry or upset soul, or do you stir up anger and strife? Do others see you as having a calm and soothing effect on other people?
2. When you look at your life honestly, do you see self-control? Do you have power over yourself, or does your flesh call all the shots? Are you able to tell your flesh what to do, or does your flesh command you?
3. In what areas do you think you need more self-control? Why don’t you think about this question and then make a list of those areas in your life that need to be more controlled by the Spirit of God?