MEEK AND HUMBLE SERVANTS
A. Introduction: For a number of weeks we have been discussing the importance of developing Christ-like
character, or becoming like Jesus in our attitudes and actions.
1. God created us to become His sons and daughters through faith in Him, and then conformed to the image
of Christ. Jesus is the pattern for God’s family (Rom 8:29). Our number one responsibility as
Christians is to become increasingly Christ-like in our character (I John 2:6).
a. Jesus is God become man without ceasing to be God. While on earth, Jesus lived as a man in
dependence on God as His Father. By doing so, Jesus showed us what sons and daughters of God
look like—how they act, how they relate to God their Father, and how they treat others.
b. Jesus summed up how sons and daughters of God are supposed to act in these words: Love God
with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Matt 22:37-40
1. To love God means to obey His moral Law (His standard of right and wrong, according to His
written Word). To love your neighbor means to treat people the way you want to be treated.
2. How we treat people is an expression of our love for God. If you don’t love others (treat them
right) then you don’t truly love God, because you aren’t obeying His command. I John 4:20
2. This love is an action, not a feeling. It has to do with how we treat people. We’ve been making the
point that dealing with people in a Christ-like way can be challenging, and have more to say tonight.
B. We opened this series with Jesus’ words: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt 11:28-30, ESV).
1. Come to me is another way of saying follow me and become like me. When Jesus said take my yoke
upon you, He meant submit to me and learn from me.
a. Jesus called people to submit to Him and learn from Him. Then, the first thing He said about
Himself in that context is: I am gentle (meek) and lowly in heart (humble).
b. Both meekness and humility are expressions of character. When we demonstrate humility and
meekness in our attitudes and actions, we are acting like Jesus.
1. The Greek word that is translated humility means lowliness of mind. Humility recognizes that
without God I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing. Humility recognizes that I am a
servant of God and a servant of man.
2. The Greek word for meekness is often translated gentle or gentleness. Meekness is the
opposite of all that is harsh, bitter, or sharp, and is frequently contrasted with anger.
2. Meekness and humility are mentioned together because, when you are humble (have a proper view of
yourself in relation to God and to others), meekness toward others grows out of that attitude.
a. Meekness is an expression of self control. When you are inflamed by temper and anger because
you’re offended, hurt, frustrated, annoyed, or angry, to be meek means to restrain your temper.
b. We think of meekness as being timid or afraid, but the Greek word translated meek has the idea of
standing between two extremes—getting angry without reason and not getting angry at all.
1. Meekness is the result of a strong man’s choice to control his reactions in submission to God.
This is not a natural temperament. It is Christ’s character formed in you.
2. Meekness is an outward expression (through your actions and attitudes) of God dwelling in
you by His Spirit. It is a fruit of the Spirit, Christ in you by His life. Gal 5:22-23
3. In our culture we associate meekness with weakness. But Jesus had all power and all the resources of
Heaven at His command. Yet He was humble and meek.
a. When Jesus entered Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion, on what we now call Palm Sunday, He
rode in on a donkey.
1. Matt 21:4-5—All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet
(Zech 9:9), saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion (Jerusalem), Behold thy King cometh unto thee,
meek, and sitting on the colt the foal of an ass (KJV).
A. In western world, the donkey is lowly animal, but it could be a noble animal in the east.
Kings often rode on donkeys as a sign that they were coming in peace.
B. First century rabbis acknowledged that Zech 9:9 referred to the Messiah. Through His
actions, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah in front of millions of people. It was
Passover, and Jerusalem was crowded with more than two and a half million pilgrims.
2. The crowds cried Hosanna (save now we beseech thee) to the Son of David (a Messianic title),
And they spread coats and branches on the road ahead of Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem.
A. They were acknowledging Him as king. It was the custom that when a new king was
appointed in Israel, the people took their cloaks and spread them under him. II Kings 9:13
B. Carrying and waving palms and branches was an emblem of victory and success. Rev 7:9;
I Maccabees 13:51; II Maccabees 10:7
b. This was a triumphant entry into the city. But in less than a week, Jesus will be crucified and killed
by His subjects. Yet He came in meekness, full of kindness and compassion for those who were
plotting His death. He came to deliver Himself into their hands to become a sacrifice for their sin.
4. Paul the apostle wrote a lengthy passage about the kind of love that we are to express to others. The first
two characteristics Paul listed are patience and kindness: Love is patient and kind (I Cor 13:4, NLT).
a. The Greek word translated kind means to show oneself useful and implies good natured and gentle.
Patience is from a Greek word that means slow to anger. It is made up of two words (long and
wrath) and can be translated as longsuffering.
1. Vine’s New Testament Dictionary says that the word refers a quality of restraint that does not
quickly retaliate or punish. It is the opposite of anger.
2. This patience or longsuffering is not an emotion. It is an action based on a decision we make
to put up with things we don’t like about people and hold back or restrain our anger.
b. This doesn’t mean that you don’t feel annoyed or angry. It means that you don’t act out of those
emotions. You act out of obedience to Almighty God and treat people as you want to be treated
1. You hold yourself back from doing what you feel like doing. You hold yourself back from
shouting, speaking harshly or disrespectfully, putting them down, or paying them back.
2. In Eph 4:1-2 Paul wrote: Therefore I, a prisoner of the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of
your calling, for you have been called by God. Be humble (lowly) and gentle (meek). Be
patient (slow to anger) with each others’ faults (hold self back) (NLT).
A. Jesus was frustrated and angry at times. He told His apostles: How long must I be with
you until you believe. How long must I put up with you (Matt 17:17—NLT). The word
translated put up with means to hold oneself back.
B. But Jesus walked in perfect love toward God and man. He did not blow up at anyone or
lose control of Himself. He didn’t call anyone a stupid idiot or humiliate them.
c. Paul contrasted meekness with quarrelling when he wrote: Remind your people…they must not
speak evil of anyone, and they must avoid quarrelling (or contention). Instead they should be
gentle (meek) and show true humility to everyone (Titus 3:1-2, NLT).
1. To speak evil of means to vilify (make someone the bad guy). It can be translated blaspheme,
defame, rail on, revile. Contention means to strive, struggle, argue, maintain or contend that
your opinion is right.
2. Note this translation: Remind people…to slander or abuse or speak evil of no one, to avoid
being contentious, to be forbearing—yielding, gentle and conciliatory—and to show
unqualified courtesy toward everybody (Amp).
A. How many of us react like this: He has no right to treat me like that. How dare?! And
that leads to contention or quarreling. Meekness is willing to let it go. Meekness is the
opposite of self-assertion and self-interest. By implication, it is humility.
B. The love we are to love others with does not seek revenge. It commits the administering
of justice to Almighty God, the righteous judge. I Pet 2:21-23
C. Before we became followers of Jesus, we learned to treat people based on how we feel in the moment. But
as Christians, we must not allow emotions to dictate our behavior. We are to be directed by the Spirit of God
in line with the Word of God.
1. Emotions are not wrong in and of themselves. They are part of human nature. The problem is that our
emotions (along with every part of our being) have been corrupted by sin.
a. Emotions often give us incorrect information, and they can drive us to sin—I feel that he did that to
me because he doesn’t respect me. Therefore, I have the right to pay him back.
1. Eph 4:26-27—And don’t sin by letting your anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go
down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil (NLT).
2. How do you know if your anger is sinful? Answer these questions: In your anger or in the
heat of your passion, did you violate the Law of Love? Did you disobey God’s moral law?
Did you do or say something to someone that you would not want said or done to you?
A. The love that we are to love others with is a reasoned, intentional action. It is a love that
thinks: How would I want to be treated if I were in that person’s place. I Cor 13:1
B. When I do something wrong, I want understanding and forgiveness. I don’t want people
to pay me back, punish me, humiliate me, or try to teach me a lesson. I want them to
forgive and forget. That is how I must treat others, no matter what I feel in the moment.
b. We must develop new thought patterns and habits of response that are Christ-like. Our emotions
must be brought under control by an act of our will and the help of the Holy Spirit in us.
2. Many of us think that it is impossible to respond with this kind of self control, and we excuse our lack of
meekness with: I didn’t mean it. Even even though I spoke harshly, I still love them. If I were too
gentle, they won’t be corrected or they’ll get away with something.
a. But Jesus said that we are not to repay evil for evil (Matt 5:44). Nothing frees us from our
obligation to walk in love—to treat people the way we want to be treated, and as God has treated us.
1. When someone offends us, hurts, disappoints us, angers us in some way, our natural tendency
it to make it about us. How could he do that to me? Who does he think he is? He probably
did that on purpose. Doesn’t he realize how much that hurt me? What we tell ourselves
further fuels the emotions we are feeling and makes it easy to step outside of love.
2. What if you acted as a meek servant and turned the focus on the other person: Maybe he’s
having a bad day, or just got some devastating news and is still reeling from it. Maybe he has
no idea that he offended me. Maybe he doesn’t know Jesus and the most important issue here
is not my feelings, but his eternal destiny.
b. For a follower of Jesus, the most important thing is: What will honor and glorify God in this
circumstance. How can I respond in a Christ-like, God glorifying way?
1. We are not minimizing the real hurts (from minor to major) that people and life inflict upon us.
We are talking about priorities and what is eternal rather than temporary. We are talking about
living in a way that is appropriate for a follower of Jesus
2. Col 3:12-13—Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe
yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must
make allowances for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember,
the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others (NLT).
3. We must learn to take control of our emotional responses and not let them move us to act sinfully toward
others. The Old Testament gives real life examples of what this looks like. Consider one that occurred
during the time when David (future king of Israel) was on the run from Saul (the current king). I Sam 25
a. David and his men went to the wilderness of Paran. A very rich, but mean and cruel man named
Nabal owned property there. Nabal is described as churlish (hard, harsh, cruel, severe) and evil.
His wife, Abigail, is described as beautiful and intelligent. I Sam 25:1-3
1. David heard that Nabal’s men were shearing sheep nearby. David sent ten men to Nabal with
a message: Greetings and peace; your shepherds were with us for a while and we were good to
them. Now we ask for any provisions you can give us. I Sam 25:4-9
A. Sheep shearing was a time of festivities, and helping strangers on a journey was part of the
culture at that time. Nabal (a Jew) and should have known, love your neighbor. Lev 19:18
B. But Nabal reacted: Who is this guy? It’s not worth my time to verify his story. Why
should I share my stuff with him? I Sam 25:15—Nabal insulted and railed at them (TLB).
2. When David heard Nabal’s answer, he got angry and decided to kill Nabal’s entire household.
A servant alerted Abigail. She took David a gift, said she would accept the blame, and asked
him not to shed innocent blood. He listened to her and gave up his plan. I Sam 25:10-35
b. David didn’t deserve the response he got from Nabal. Nabal was totally self-focused. However,
David’s reaction to Nabal was also self-focused. He can’t do that to me. David made the decision
to retaliate. His emotions caused him to overreact—He insulted me, I’ll kill them all!
1. Note how David talked to himself: David had been saying to himself, A lot of good it did us to
help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or
stolen, but he repaid me evil for good (I Sam 25:21, NLT).
2. David fed his anger with what he told himself and focused on. David could have said: Maybe
the man is having a bad day. Maybe he misunderstood my message. Maybe he is a jerk, but
God tells me to treat him as I want to be treated. (Love believes the best. I Cor 13:7, Amp).
A. Abigail talked to David the way he should have talked to himself (I Sam 25:25-31). She
explained what kind of man her husband was, and that she didn’t see David’s messengers.
She gave him additional, mitigating factors about the situation.
B. Abigail assured David that God would take care of him. She pointed out the benefit of
putting off the short term satisfaction that comes from venting anger for long range good.
c. How you speak to yourself about your situation and the other person determines, in part, how you
act when you are angry and offended. Remember what we talked about in previous lessons.
1. When you feel anger rising, exercise your will and harness your tongue with praise to God.
Don’t allow anything but praise to Him come out of your mouth until you get control.
2. James 3:2—We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control
themselves in every other way (NLT).
D. Conclusion: We have barely scratched the surface on becoming Christ-like in character. We will revisit
this topic sometime in next year. For now, let’s close with these thoughts.
1. Becoming Christ-like in character does take effort on our part. We have to build new attitudes and
habits of response. We must learn to think differently: This person’s life, time, needs, and problems
are just as real and important to him as mine are to me. How would I want to be treated if I were them?
2. Building new habits is neither quick nor easy, but it’s worth the end result. Never forget that the Holy
Spirit is in us to help us express meekness and humility as we set our will to imitate Jesus.
3. Remember that it is possible to be perfect even though there is more perfection to reach, if your heart is
set on becoming increasingly like Jesus, on becoming a meek and humble servant like Him (Phil
3:12-15). Remember, also that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it (Phil 1:6).