Saturday, March 10, 2012

Looking For the "Meek and Quiet Spirit"

“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.” (1 Peter 3:4)

         Who wouldn’t be on the lookout for anything considered to be “of great price” to the One who owns the world and everything in it? It would be like finding something to give to the man who has everything. You may think it’s the perfect adornment for a godly woman (as do I), but the fact remains, the only two people named in the Scriptures as living examples of meekness were men: Moses (Num. 12:3), and Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:29 & 2:15). Be that as it may, here it is in a passage especially for you and me, so it’s definitely something we need to look into and consider.

         Before we try to find this pearl, there is a misconception that needs to be laid to rest. We’re talking about something that is generally “hidden.” It’s a spirit, not a sound. Just as someone who is “poor in spirit” does not have to be poor financially, it follows that a quiet spirit does not have to be silent, or even soft-spoken, all the time. I realize no one likes a loud, stubborn, gadabout woman, especially Solomon (Prov. 7:11). But just because a woman is soft-spoken doesn’t guarantee she possesses a quiet spirit, anymore than poverty is the sure sign of meekness. It’s not that easy.

         For instance, the meekest man on the earth in his lifetime was a man who naturally had a temper and an unbending sense of justice that sometimes made him judge, jury, and executioner (Exo. 2:11-12). You have heard it said, I’m sure, meekness is not the same as weakness, and Moses (and Jesus, for that matter) is testimony to this.

I was interested to learn that the Greeks used the equivalent of this word (“meekness”) to describe the training of an animal (especially a horse) for battle. It literally means, “power under control.” As one writer said, “When the Greeks could take a horse, with the phenomenal inherent power that can propel a thousand-pound animal at speeds over 35 miles an hour, and bring that magnificent animal under the total control of just a touch—maybe just leg pressure or knee pressure—and have that horse do exactly what they wanted, then they called that horse praus (meeked). And the term is still used today. Another word for breaking a horse is “meeking.”

I see meekness in a wife as the unusual ability to see past the Biblical headship of her husband to the ultimate authority of God. There is no pulling against the reins, knowing that the hands that hold them are not human, but Divine. She may offer opinion, but never insist on the final option. She is meek, but not powerless; it is power under the control of God. The old Puritan saying is true: “A prudent wife commands her husband by obeying him.”

But what of the “quiet spirit”? If it’s not dependent on either demeanor or decibel, how do you spot it, or better still, acquire it? For this, we need to search the Scriptures for clues. I find in Isaiah 32: 17-18 that quietness and peace come in one package. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Even today, when we’re overwhelmed with this noisy world, we look for “peace and quiet.” And isn’t it interesting that quietness is one of the effects of righteousness, unlike “the troubled sea” that follows wickedness (Isa. 57:20)? I read also in Isaiah that quietness is coupled with confidence “…in quietness and confidence shall be your strength…” (30:15). It’s a deep-seated trust in God that remains calm inside during life’s storms like a buoy that bobs all around above turbulent waters but remains steadfast underneath.

Again, I see the woman of quiet spirit that Peter is speaking of as bringing calm, as much as being calm. She is a woman whose very presence makes you feel that the situation, no matter how unnerving, will not always be so. She may or may not speak, but one way or the other, her confidence in God is always unmistakable. It can take the edge off a disagreement, add reason to the irrational, and bring us back to the reality of living and abiding in Jesus Christ. 

See what I mean when I say the woman with the “meek and quiet spirit” is not the mousy, two-steps-behind wisp of a creature you may have pictured? This woman is controlled, confident, and content. She will overwhelm you with her understated strength. You will remember her long after you’ve forgotten what she wore, because she’s so much more than what you see (1 Pet. 3:3).

Her meek and quiet spirit is “of great price to God.” What’s it worth to you and me?  

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