Meek Leadership Prayer

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

We give thanks for the gift of faith and the call into ministry that reaches out to our families, friends, and beyond.

Guard our hearts in times of weakness, hardship, and temptation.

Keep our minds sharp so that we can offer you our praise with clarity, coherence, and dedication, not tainted by vain desires, cultural confusion, or subtle idolatries.

Grant us a spirit of meekness, a spirit of humility seated deeply in our character—not loosely held, superficially worn, or overshadowed by cherished sins.

Place in us hearts eager to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.

Give us the assurance of your providence so we can offer sacrificial hospitality to those around us.

In the face of suffering, make your Holy Spirit especially visible so that we would not fail in our ministry due to temptations to be relevant, powerful, or spectacular in the eyes of those in our care.

In the strong name of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Savior. Amen.

Meek Leadership Prayer

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Lead Out of Meekness

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, 

and he will guide them to springs of living water, 

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 

(Rev 7:17)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Meekness marks a natural leader, yet few aspire to be meek, as Nouwen (1989, 82) observes:

Christian leadership…is not leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest.

Like the one who sent him, the ideal Christian leader is meek, but meekness also creates tension within us it, between us, and with God, to which we will now turn. 

Tension Within

For church leaders, the Apostle Paul advises elders and deacons to pursue fruits of the spirit, such as “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Tim 6:11), where gentle is a good synonym for meek. In pursuing fruits like meekness, however, success is not easy to obtain. Even Paul points to inner tension:

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Rom 7:18-19)

As with any fruit of the spirit, progress in obtaining meekness requires the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

Tension With Others

“Isn’t meekness a personal attribute?” A friend recently inquired. “How can you be meek when you are responsible for other people?” One response is that modeling meekness creates space in our lives for other people, which is foundational for servant leadership.

During his time in prison, for example, Bonhoeffer continued to function sacrificially as a pastor offering counsel to other inmates and even the prison guards. When offered an opportunity to escape from prison, Bonhoeffer refused to leave because escaping would put his family outside prison and his ministry inside prison at risk (Metaxas 2010, 448). Sacrificial leadership can be risky, painful, and, yet, unappreciated, as the Apostle Paul writes:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Cor 4:7–10)

Several levels of meekness may need to be developed.

Tension With God

Sacrificial leadership can also lead to the cross. In a moment of weakness and despair on the cross Jesus cried: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) These words are taken from Psalm 22:1 that later ends in praise: “You who fear the LORD, praise him!” (Ps 22:23) Emptied of our despair, we are able again to turn to God in praise.

We can lead with meekness, even in the face of suffering, in part, because the story does not end in suffering. Just like the cross of Christ is followed by the resurrection of Christ; when we share in his suffering we know that we will also share in his victory (2 Cor 1:5).  

As the Apostle Paul writes: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) Because our future is in Christ, today we can embrace Christ’s meekness.

References

Metaxas, Eric. 2012. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. 1989. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company

Lead Out of Meeknes

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Release_2020

 

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Pastoral Meekness: Monday Monologues (podcast) April 27, 2020

Stephen_W_Hiemstra_20200125b
Stephen W. Hiemstra 2020 (Ken Burtram Photography)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on Pastoral Meekness. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Pastoral Meekness: Monday Monologues (podcast) April 27, 2020

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Meekness Prayer

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Beloved Good Shepherd,

We praise you for your teaching heart and gentle spirit.

We thank you for modeling meekness in leadership and for your patience with us as we learn.

Heal our hearts, humble our spirits, open our hands that we might lead with gentleness and hospitality.

Grant us open minds and a teachable spirit that we might lead those around us only to you.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit, now and always, Amen.

Meekness Prayer

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Meekness is the Pastoral Gene

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, 

for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 

and you will find rest for your souls. 

(Matt 11:29)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Meekness is a pastoral characteristic, as Charles Colson (2005, 30) writes: “Freedom lies in obedience to our calling.” We know this not only from the words of Jesus, but also from his disciples and those that followed. For example, Jesus says:

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Matt 10:42)

Here he is encouraging his disciples to display humility lived out (or meekness) in front of, not children (“little ones”), but young believers (or seekers). The word for disciple (μαθητής; “mathetes”) here means—“one who engages in learning through instruction from another, pupil, apprentice” (BDAG, 4662)—and Jesus’ disciples were instructed to teach young believers with an attitude of gentleness and service, modeling meekness in what they said and did.

The Apostle Paul paraphrases Jesus’ command, making teaching meekness (or gentleness) an explicit requirement for church leaders, as when he writes:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:24–26)

Gentleness (or meekness) also appears on many of Paul’s lists of the fruits of the spirit (e.g. Gal 5:19–23; Col 3:12–14) and in the writing of James and Peter (Jas 3:13; 1 Pet 3:15). 

Interestingly, meekness is cloaked in one of the most famous images of Christ: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) The image of the Good Shepherd is, in fact, a messianic image prophesied by Isaiah in one of his Servant Song passages:

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isa 40:11)

The Apostle John pushes the shepherd metaphor even further when he writes:

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Rev 7:17)

Here the messianic shepherd is also both a lamb and a king, underscoring that meekness is a divine attribute.

Shepherding likewise anchors the great pastoral passage in the Gospel of John where the risen Christ confronts and restores Peter to leadership:

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. (John 21:15)

Three times Jesus asks if Peter loves him and with each of Peter’s responses he asks Peter to give up fishing (catching fish with hooks and nets) and to take up shepherding (caring for, defending, and feeding sheep; John 21:15–18). As with Peter, Jesus bids all his disciples to care for his flock displaying meekness.

References

Bauer, Walter (BDAG). 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. ed. de Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. <BibleWorks. v.9.>.

Bethune, George. 1839. The Fruit of the Spirit. Reiner Publications.

Bridges, Jerry. 1996. The Practice of Godliness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Colson, Charles and Harold Pickett. 2005. The Good Life. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers

Meek is the Pastoral Gen

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Release_2020

 

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God’s Meekness Speaks Volumes

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101Now the man Moses was very meek,

 more than all people who were on the face of the earth. 

(Num 12:3)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Because meekness is more a fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:19-23) than a natural state, we must learn to be meek. If Jesus is meek, does that imply that God learned to be meek? What does the Old Testament suggest about God’s meekness?

The Books of the Law

Moses is described as meek. Because he has an especially intimate relationship with God (Num 12:3) and we all are drawn to people who share our values, Moses’ meekness may infer that God may also be meek. Narratives about God as creator, covenant maker, and destroyer by means of the flood of that floated Noah’s ark together suggest that God himself is meek.

Creator

As creator, God is pictured as sovereign issuing decrees, such as: “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” (Gen 1:3) How light came to be, we are not told; we are only told that God decreed that it be done—God is verbal, but he is not chatty. God then declares: “And God saw that the light was good.” (Gen 1:4)—God does not brag; he meekly observes. While his ability to create illustrates God’s power, God is—“not overly impressed by a sense of [one’s] self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate” (BDAG 6132). In other words, creating is “no big deal” for our meek God.

Covenant Maker

As covenant maker, God is objective and thoughtful, not vengeful and domineering. The covenant with Adam, for example, is mostly implicit because God creates Adam and Eve, gives them a mandate (be fruitful and multiply), sets them in a garden, and leaves only one limitation—do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam and Eve disobey God’s limitation, he does not replace them with another couple; instead, God punishes (curses) them and sends them out of the garden. But before they go, like a mother preparing her child for the first day of school, “God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” (Gen 3:21) While God was perfectly in his right as covenant maker to be harsh with Adam and Eve, in fact, he treated them gently—another indication of meekness.

Destroyer

As destroyer, God sends a flood to wipe out humanity and every living thing—almost. The author of Genesis records God’s motivation as follows:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen 6:5-8)

The key words here are: regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart; God is moved by regret and by grief over sin—not anger—to send the flood, which is not the image of a wrathful God that some advance. In spite of the flood, God is careful to spare Noah, his family, and a pair of each of the animals. The ark with Noah, his family, and the animals is a prototype of the remnant of Israel later spared during the Babylonian exile (Isa 54:9).

Choosing to exercise only a subset of his rights with the remnant—like a parent offering discipline, not a judge imposing legal penalties—is another example of a meek God. These examples of God as creator, as covenant maker, and as destroyer give us a picture of a God who does not need to learn to be meek, because he was already meek when he created the heavens and the earth.

The Books of the Prophets

The words, meek and humble, appear throughout the Books of the Prophets where Guelich (1982, 82) observed that: “there is little or no difference between the poor and the meek in the Psalms or Isaiah” (e.g. Isa 61:1). This observation makes perfect sense because the nation of Israel spent much of that period as slaves exiled in Babylon and meekness is referred to often, as in:

1. There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD… but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. (Isa 11:1–5)

2. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. (Ps 25:9)

3. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Ps 37:11)

4. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zec 9:9)

The appearance of meekness in these messianic passages suggests that the prophets considered meekness a divine attribute.

Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets

The meekness that appears in the Old Testament is both a character attribute of God—part of his transcendence—and a kind of solidarity between God and his people. Elliot (2006, 123) notes that “Israel’s God was emotionally stable”; God meekness typifies this stability, which has led theologians to coin the term, immutability, meaning that God’s character does not change (Mal 3:6; Horton 2011, 235). Thus, when Jesus describes himself as gentle or meek (Matt 11:29), a Jewish audience might rightly hear such words as a messianic claim.

Consider the converse—what if God’s character evolved and was not immutable? What if God changed his mind and did not tell us? In such a changing world, the promises of the Bible could also change at any time—which part of the Bible is still true? What if the atonement of Christ was no longer sufficient? The possibility that God’s character could change is unnerving. 

God’s meekness is just one aspect of his immutable character. Truth is another closely related character trait (Exod 34:6). God’s immutable character implies that only one, objective truth exists. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) The implication is that God’s immutable character anchors stability in the physical and spiritual realms providing credibility also to the authority of scripture.

We hear meekness as typifying God’s immutable character which provides a foundation for our faith. For us, meekness is a fruit of the spirit, but, for God, it is just who he is.

References

Bauer, Walter (BDAG). 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. ed. de Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. <BibleWorks. v.9.>.

Elliott, Matthew A. 2006. Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel.

Guelich, Robert. 1982. The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding. Dallas: Word Publishing.

Horton, Michael. 2011. The Christian Faith: A Systemic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

God’s Meekness Speaks Volume

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Meet_2020

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Resolve Tension into Identity

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101But the meek shall inherit the land and 

delight themselves in abundant peace. 

(Ps 37:11)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

One resolution of life’s tensions is that they are absorbed into our identity, defining our self-image, relationships, and expected actions and reactions. A pastoral identity, for example, implies spending time with God, interpreting scripture, praying with others, preaching the Gospel, and offering comfort to everyone; these activities are expected of pastors and are an essential part of pastoral training. Likewise, training in humility makes us meek, part of our identity as disciples of Christ.

Meekness is Unique

The Third Beatitude is unique to Matthew: “Honored are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:5). Meek means to: “…not [be] overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble,  considerate” (BDAG 6132). Meek is like applied humility (poor in spirit)—a character trait of being  humble (Guelich 1982, 82), suggested by at least three verses in Matthew:

1. 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. (Matt 11:29)

2. Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden. (Matt 21:5)

3. And the high priest stood up and said, Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you? But Jesus remained silent. (Matt 26:62-63)

In these three events—Jesus’ invitation to discipleship, his humble parade into Jerusalem, and his silence while on trial—Jesus exhibited his meekness. Sedler (2003, 92) observes that “anything Jesus said [at his trial] would have been twisted, turned, and rejected.” Jesus’ meekness is also observed in the writings of the Apostles Peter, James, and Paul (e.g. 1 Pet 3:13–17, Jas 1:21, and 2 Cor 10:1).

Honor and Meekness

In his writing, Neyrey (1998, 181–182) describes honor in meekness in these terms:

It can indeed be understood as grounds for praise for refusing to be a victim…according to the choreography of honor challenges, the ‘meek’ person could be one who makes no honor claims (e.g. Matt 21:5), or, more likely, one who does not give a riposte [response] to challenges and does not respond in anger to insults. In this light, a ‘meek’ person disengages entirely from the typical honor games of the village…failure to seek revenge.

The implication here is that the meek person choses wisely to remain silent, especially when speaking would escalate conflict with another person.

The problem of escalation is referenced in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus said:

1. Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, You fool! will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt 5:22)

2. Let what you say be simply Yes or No; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matt 5:37)

3. Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matt 5:39–41)

Meekness as a Strategy

Savage (1996, 57–61) suggests a strategy of not resisting evil, “fogging,” that involves finding something in the criticism to agree with to frustrate the attacker and to avoid becoming defensive, as when Jesus responses when asked about taxes (Matt 22:17–22). More generally, the meek person will refuse to pursue vindication, offer no response when baited to act imprudently, or just make peace. We are to preserve a humble identity by refusing to argue, belittle, or engage in a response to harsh words. In other words, defend your meekness with silence and humility.

Ortberg (2012, 107) illustrates Jesus’ meekness in imaging a pep talk that Jesus might have given the disciples:

Here’s our strategy. We have no money, no clout, no status, no buildings, no soldiers…We will tell them [Jewish and Romans leaders, Zealots, collaborators, Essenes] all that they are on the wrong track…When they hate us—and a lot of them will…we won’t fight back, we won’t run away, and we won’t give in. We will just keep loving them…That’s my strategy.

Meekness is a strategy, not a weakness, that identifies us as Christians, advances the kingdom, and steals the thunder from our adversaries.

References

Bauer, Walter (BDAG). 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. ed. de Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. <BibleWorks. v.9.>.

Guelich, Robert. 1982. The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding. Dallas: Word Publishing.

Neyrey, Jerome H. 1998. Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

Ortberg, John. 2012. Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Savage, John. 1996. Listening and Caring Skills: A Guide for Groups and Leaders. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Resolve Tension into Identity

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

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Blessed are the Meek

Blessed are the Meek

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Luncheon for the Soul, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Herndon, Virginia

Welcome

Good afternoon. Welcome to Luncheon for the Soul. My name is Stephen Hiemstra. I am a volunteer pastor from Centreville Presbyterian Church and a Christian author. Today we continue our study of the Beatitudes.

In the Beatitudes, we see that the promises of God are anchored in his unchanging character and we know this because God remains forever meek.

Invocation

Let’s pray.

Heavenly father. Thank you for your presence among us this morning. We are grateful that your word still moves our hearts and stimulates our minds. Make your presence especially obvious in this moment and in this place. In the power of your Holy Spirit, open our eyes and give us ears to listen. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Scripture

Today’s scripture lesson comes from the Gospel of Matthew 5:5. This is the Third Beatitude and a part of the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount. Listen for the word of God.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:5 ESV)

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Introduction

A famous confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees begins with a difficult question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matt 22:17) If Jesus answers yes, the Hebrews will be mad at him. If he answers no, he will have legal difficulties with the Romans. This question does not have an obvious answer.

Jesus answers:

“Show me the coin for the tax.  And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this? They said, Caesar’s. Then he said to them, Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt 22:19-21)

In other words, Jesus redefined the question and challenged them to deepen their faith in God—in whose image they were created—and not to focus on political things that they cannot change.

The story of the response of Jesus to the difficult question is an example of a concept known by experts as fogging.[1] Fogging is an answer that responds only to the part of the question that you agree with. In this example, Jesus continues the conversation about taxes but he changes the focus to the coin used to pay the tax. The coin offers an opportunity to give a lesson about God without falling to a political trap and without appearing defensive in front of his opponents.

This last point is important for us because every day we talk with difficult people and fogging is a technique to remain civil during a conflict when it is much easier to become emotional or to feel the stress. It is useful because when we have an appropriate answer to a difficult person, we are not victims; we are not defensive; we are Christians that respect and utilize the wisdom of Christ. It is also an example of how to be meek like Jesus in our everyday life—meek is not weak or as Jesus said:

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:5)

Context

The Third Beatitude appears only in Matthew and in the Greek, the language of the Old Testament, meek means: “… Not [being] overly impressed with a sense of self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate” (BDAG 6132). Meek is like the character of a person who applies the concept of “poor in spirit”, which we find in the First Beatitude, and which is shown not less than three times in Matthew:

  1. “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.” (Matt 11:29)
  2. “Say to the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” (Matt 21:5) [2]
  3. “And the high priest stood up and said, Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you? But Jesus remained silent.” (Matt 26:62-63)

These three events—the invitation of Jesus to be disciple, his humble entrance into Jerusalem, and his silence during his trial—demonstrate the humility of Christ. The humility of Christ is also observed in the writings of the Apostles—Peter, James, and Paul.

From all of this evidence, it is obvious that humility is very important to Jesus in the New Testament. But, no one normally wants to be humble—we have to learn to be humble.

Is it possible that God also learned to be humble? (2X)

Analysis

This curious question over the God changes during the period of the Bible is very important in today’s theological conversations because if God changed during the history of the Bible, then he can change in our time as well.

I will be very brief. Here I will use an argument from the law and the prophets, like Paul and many other rabbis.

Point One: God acts as someone very meek in spite of the sin of Adam and Eve.

In the Books of the Law we see that God looks meek and gentle. For example, in Genesis before “God sent him [Adam and Eve} out from the garden of Eden” (Gen 3:23), “God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen 3:21) like a mother prepares her kids for the first day of school. God had every right to zap them both and create new people, but he did not do that. He did not do that because he had compassion on them and made provision for them, in spite their sins and against his own rights and power. In this context, God appears meek.

Point Two: God is humble like his good friend, Moses.

Here in the Books of the Law, only Moses is described as humble, as we see in the Book of Numbers, where it is written:

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Num 12:3)

But, many times friends share very similar personal characteristics. Consequently, the implication is that probably God is also meek like his very good friend, Moses.

Point Three: The Books of the Prophets describe the Messiah as meek.

The Books of the Prophets are all the books of the Old Testament that are not among the Books of the Law. Here we find that humility is a characteristic expected of the Messiah. The most famous example was cited above in Matthew and comes from the Prophet Zachariah:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech 9:9)

It is obvious also in the prophets that humility is a characteristic of God reflected in his people, as an important part of his image. For example, we see in the Psalms:

“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Ps 25:9)

And we find in the Psalms our Third Beatitude, in so many words:

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” (Ps 37:11)

Therefore, we see in the law as in the prophets that God was meek and he did not need to learn to be meek because he was already meek in creation. This is very good news because the character of God does not change over time and is immutable yesterday, today, and always.

The implication is that, just like the character of God is immutable and does not change, the Bible is also reliable and the promises of God are good forever. Thanks be to God!

Closing Prayer

Let’s pray.

Almighty Good, Beloved Son, Ever-present Spirit, we give praise because you do not change and offer your gracious love and consolation in painful times and times of loss. Cleanse our hearts of evil passions that lead us to sin and lead us to violence against other people. Give us a character that is deep in your wisdom. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

 

[1]  See: Savage (1996, 57-62).

[2] Also: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zec 9:9)

References

Bauer, Walter (BDAG). 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. ed. de Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. <BibleWorks. v .9.>.

Savage, John. 1996. Listening and Caring Skills: A Guide for Groups and Leaders. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

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18. Prayers of a Life in Tension by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Prayers_of_a_Life_in_Tension_webAlmighty Father,

We give thanks for the gift of faith and the call into ministry which reaches out to our family, friends, and beyond. Guard our hearts in times of weakness, hardship, and temptation. Keep our mind sharp that we offer you our praise with clarity, coherence, and dedication, not tainted by vain desires, cultural confusion, or subtle idolatries. Grant us a spirit of meekness, a spirit of humility seated deeply in our character—not loosely held, superficially worn, or overshadowed by cherished sins. Place in us hearts eager to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. Give us the strength to provide a sacrificial hospitality to those around us. In the face of suffering, make your Holy Spirit especially visible that we would not fail in our ministry due to temptations to be relevant, powerful, or spectacular in the eyes of those in our care. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Savior. Amen.

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15. Prayers of a Life in Tension by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Prayers_of_a_Life_in_Tension_webHumble Lord,
Help us to rest in you—to bear the burdens that you bore, to exhibit the grace that you exhibited, And to extend the peace that you extended. Clear our cluttered minds, still our restless hearts that we might—refuse to be victims, refuse to point the finger, and resolve to roll up our sleeves.  Heal us of our anxieties, restore us to the person you would have us be that our identity would reside in you alone—through the power of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

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