Jukka Petaisto | The Voice of Zion November 2023 - Home and Family Article --
How does meekness, a fruit of the Spirit, shine in our temporal lives? As I have pondered this topic and gathered my thoughts, I feel that meekness shines in dear believers around me.
I also hear the Word of God that reminds me what meekness is. At a recent Sunday evening service, the minister spoke from 1 Peter 5:5,6. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” And at Bible class a teacher read from Proverbs 15:1. “A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger.”
Meekness means many things. Along with a meaning like humility, meekness also can infer that someone is indecisive or passive, not usually a positive attribute. Rather, tenacity is a value in our culture; this value teaches that we should know what we want and go to great lengths to achieve those goals. Individually, we may be tempted to ignore rules, to rebel, or to protest actions our government takes.
In recent years the COVID-19 happenings unfolded and they were often discussed. I listened to COVID-19 outrage, frustrations, and strong convictions both for and against gathering, masks and mandates. I shared my thoughts at times and was not immune to these feelings. I have pondered and worried if love was broken between believers. The prayers and doubts were many during those times. I listened to our board members and ministers as they presented and discussed with the congregation what to do next. I heard meekness in these presentations and felt I could trust the Holy Spirit was speaking.
On this matter and many temporal matters Romans 13:1 reminds us: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” The verses that follow carry further instruction, but I have little understanding. I do feel the overall instruction is clear and simple; God provides government and leaders and we are subject to the laws and rules of our land.
When we have differences of opinion on temporal matters, I’m reminded of Luther’s explanation of the eighth commandment. At the end of the explanation Luther says, “Think and speak well of him and put the best construction on all he does.” I want to think that all believers are doing the best they can to navigate through difficult temporal situations. I also want to think that our temporal leaders and neighbors are doing the best they can, although they do not have this great gift of faith and the Holy Spirit to guide them.
We can pray and trust that God will give strength and guide our lives. The Bible gives good instruction, and we hear the Spirit speak where two or three believers are gathered. We don’t need to understand, we simply need to believe. The Gospel will lift and carry us until we reach that heavenly home.
Earthly Life, Heavenly Goal
A healthy self-concept is something believers strive to achieve. Our sense of self underpins our life choices, both good and bad. A healthy self-concept helps us to care for ourselves and those around us, and it protects us from harm.
A believer’s highest quest is heaven. But we should also pursue a happy and fulfilling temporal life. Our personal goals and ambitions are balanced with our heavenly goal, and they shouldn’t pull us away from Christian fellowship and the hearing of God’s Word. God created each of us as a unique and perfectly imperfect person and we rejoice in our creation and life opportunities.
Today’s culture emphasizes self-actualization: achieving one’s full potential. But for many, the pursuit of self-actualization has led to self-absorption and indifference to others. Our culture glorifies the individual as the maker of gifts and talents instead of our heavenly Father. Nevertheless, self-actualization is healthy and desirable. God gave every person differing skills and talents. His will is that we exercise these gifts, especially in His kingdom. As believers, we self-actualize while striving to keep a good conscience and supporting one another in faith.
Exercising one’s voice and personal autonomy are held as admirable indications of strength. But it often requires even greater strength to express oneself in a way that is meek, yet not weak. Christ was meek. Meekness requires both compassion and respect for others. It also allows us to disagree with others when necessary. As believers, we seek to voice ourselves humbly through peaceful and respectful means. For example, we express our position on important issues through the democratic process of voting. God’s Word exhorts us to modesty, and believers shy away from raucous protest movements that can easily entangle our flesh (Rom. 12–13).
Believers wish to accept trials as they are given, for they draw us closer to God and help us toward our heavenly goal. Our highest quest is not a perfect life here on earth, but there in eternity.
Conversation on Meekness
Anita and Briitta Niemi visit with their mother Kyllikki Niemi
What does it mean to be meek, and how is it shown as a fruit of the Spirit in the life of a believer?
Kyllikki: Meekness is being gentle and speaking respectfully to others. It is shown as a fruit by helping one another, being humble, and having forgiveness in the home. Also, this is without expecting anything in return.
Briitta: Meekness is being humble, not being pretentious nor overbearing. It is being gentle and kind and asking for forgiveness and forgiving from the heart. It is being obedient to God’s will. He guides and directs our lives, and His plans are always the best.
During the COVID pandemic, our lives were reduced to the three of us at home. We were accustomed to frequent visits from the children and grandchildren to Mummula. We struggled with this. We wanted to remain obedient and humble to the restrictions that were mandated. So we started driveway visits. We would help Mom into the car and visit all her children and grandchildren in their driveways. This lifted our spirits. During the first year of the pandemic, we contracted COVID. Mom’s case was very severe, and she was hospitalized. So many prayers rose to God: “Thy will be done”.
Mom was left with many health complications that continue today. My vacation time was used for the multitudes of medical appointments with specialists. At the time, I wondered why these trials were given to our household. Acceptance came slowly but what a gift came with it. My nieces and nephews that were confirmation age and older began visiting us weekly when the COVID restrictions were lifted in our province. Peace, contentment, and joy grew with each shared visit. We shared joys and sorrows. These weekly visits brought comfort and so much joy to my life.
Anita: Meekness is being humble. I would agree with what Mom and Briitta said about having patience and forgiveness in our home. It is believing our sins forgiven. I am thankful to still have my mom here with me today and for Briitta helping and encouraging me to continue to be patient in caring for Mom.
Nowadays in our culture, it’s considered good to stand up for yourself and forge your own path to fulfillment and success. Some favor speaking out loudly on topics on which they’re passionate. What is the believer’s viewpoint on this?
Kyllikki: As a believer, we should always strive to remain humble and obedient to God’s Word and authority.
Briitta: It is good for one to work at being successful, but one must remain obedient to the teachings of God’s Word and to remain humble. Let God guide your life and remember that He is the best provider. All these gifts come from Him. We are taught to be obedient to authority. Rising up against the government and disobeying mandates was very evident during the COVID pandemic. Although one may not agree to the restrictions and mandates, we need to be obedient. It can be very difficult to remain humble.
Anita: As Briitta mentioned, it is okay to strive to be better but to also to remember who our guide is. We must trust in God and let His will be done.
How does meekness as a fruit of the spirit govern our home life? We all have our lots in life, given from the hand of God.
Kyllikki: We use the gospel freely and ask God for strength in all matters. As an elder, I need to remain humble and ask for help in much that I do. I pray God will continue to give strength to my girls to continue to help me in my daily life. Discussing issues and coming to an agreement keeps the love between us. We need to be patient.
In sickness and health, we need to accept all that God gives. At first it was tough to accept, but over time I have accepted my lot in life and realized that I have much to be thankful for: family, travel escorts and that I can still attend services. I am so thankful and blessed that I can live at home with my two daughters who are nurses and so lovingly care for me.
Briitta: Anita and I share the care of Mom. We also cared for Dad until he passed away. Disagreements sometimes come up, but we talk about them and forgive one another.
We are content with our lot in life. It is a blessing in our lives as we don’t have spouses or children of our own. We are surrounded by siblings and many nieces and nephews, and this fills our lives. While caring for Mom, I feel thankful and blessed. God has given us this time in our lives. While it sometimes limits our travels to Summer Services or other events, we get to have these special times with Mom that our siblings don’t have. We are blessed to be the ones that care for Mom as she once cared for us so lovingly. We are thankful for the online Summer Services.
During difficult days, I remind myself, just as Mom always told us: the sun will always rise on a new day. Trust that God will continue to give us strength for each day. I often think of the words to virsi 547.
“Every morning there is a new grace. Why should we worry? Shadows and weakness recede. Jesus gives His strength. Thanks be to the Lord for His help along the way. He is with us now and always.”
Anita: I am thankful to have the opportunity to care for Mom as I did care for Dad. I have a roof over my head and a career which I enjoy, taking care of the elderly. I am very blessed with having most of our siblings living close to us. Our nieces and nephews bring us great joy.
Questions for discussion
Look up “meekness” in a dictionary. Which definition surprises you?
Give examples of when humans are assertive and fierce and when humans are meek.
Discuss Jesus’ life and His character traits as described in the Bible.
Jesus was usually meek. Why was this?
What do we learn from Jesus’ example? When is the time we want to be meek?