Week 37 in the year of our Lord 2022

Meekness—what it isn’t

6 minutes to read

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We often think of meekness as shyness, and there is something to that.

Shyness involves a degree of reservedness—and so does meekness.

But when we talk about shyness, we are talking about someone who is timid in the company of others. Their reservedness often comes from a sort of weakness. They are scared that they will say something stupid—so they stay quiet. They are worried that doing something to call attention to themselves will also call attention to their flaws—so they keep to themselves, or stay at the back of the group.

This sort of shyness is tied to insecurity. It is the opposite of being at ease with yourself around others. This sort of shyness is not a good quality. It can even be a sinful characteristic.

That’s not meekness. There is nothing weak about meekness.

Sometimes we mistake reservedness for shyness. That is also a mistake. Some people just aren’t as talkative as others. They are quieter. It’s not a matter of insecurity or sin. It’s a matter of natural temperament. That’s not spiritual meekness; it’s a personality trait. Some people who have a reserved personality also possess humility and meekness, but not all of them. Don’t mistake quietness or reservedness for humility. A lot of quiet people just quietly and proudly judge others. You can be proud and very quiet. There is shouting pride and whispering pride. The former calls attention to itself by its nature, while the latter is easy to miss. One is more obvious than the other, but they are both wickedly sinful. But whispering pride is often more dangerous because it can be mistaken for humility or meekness. Therefore, it goes uncorrected.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has an excellent description of what meekness really is:

[T]he man who is meek is not even sensitive about himself. He is not always watching himself and his own interests. He is not always on the defensive. We all know about this, do we not? Is it not one of the greatest curses in life as a result of the fall—this sensitivity about self? We spend the whole of our lives watching ourselves. But when a man becomes meek he has finished with all that; he no longer worries about himself and what other people say. To be truly meek means we no longer protect ourselves, because we see there is nothing worth defending. So we are not on the defensive; all that is gone. The man who is truly meek never pities himself, he is never sorry for himself. He never talks to himself and says, “You are having a hard time, how unkind these people are not to understand you.” He never thinks: “How wonderful I really am, if only other people gave me a chance.” Self-pity! What hours and years we waste in this! But the man who has become meek has finished with all that. To be meek, in other words, means that you have finished with yourself altogether, and you come to see you have no rights or deserts at all. You come to realize that nobody can harm you. John Bunyan puts it perfectly. “He that is down need fear no fall.” When a man truly sees himself, he knows nobody can say anything about him that is too bad. You need not worry about what men may say or do; you know you deserve it all and more. Once again, therefore, I would define meekness like this. The man who is truly meek is the one who is amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do. That, it seems to me, is its essential quality.

Meekness is also not risk-averseness. Modern men are risk-averse, but they are seldom meek.

In fact, they are so risk-averse that they are desperate for a detailed map of proper steps, in proper order, so they can take action. That’s what is behind the never-ending hunger for more content. They want safety, and they think data and method will provide that.

But it won’t. That’s not how getting free, and getting things done, works. In A Failure of Nerve, Friedman explains…

…the role of cartographers in modeling reality deserves some mention. They, after all, are the publishers, the evaluators, and in some ways the censors of what is to be filtered into the public consciousness. Sometimes they seem to have had more power to determine reality than the explorers themselves.

Cartographers differed widely in their concern for accuracy, their ability to draw, their taste, and their honesty. They mixed fact, theory, and hypothesis according to their illusions, their fears, their wishes, their biases, and their political prejudices.

In any field, then, is reality primarily what the “cartographers” of the day say it is? Answer: Only when the leaders of that age have deferred to the “mapmakers” because of their fear of making mistakes.

…the acceptance and even cherishing of uncertainty is critical to keeping the human mind from voyaging into the delusion of omniscience. The willingness to encounter serendipity is the best antidote we have for the arrogance of thinking we know. Exposing oneself to chance is often the only way to provide the kind of mind-jarring experience of novelty that can make us realize that what we thought was reality was only a mirror of our minds.

The sooner you learn to have a certain disregard for maps and mapmakers, the better off you will be.

Wisdom from our men’s group: #

  • Advice on avoiding conflict: If you find yourself angry with someone, ask yourself, “What expectations have I set for this person that I have not communicated to them?”
  • When considering a difficult job/obstacle, ask, “What would this look like if it were easy?”

Learn more about joining our men’s group

New content this week: #

One from the archives worth rewatching: The Blessing of a Good Insult | Michael Foster - YouTube

Notable: #

Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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