THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
- THE EIGHTH GRAPE OF THE CLUSTER
Humbleness — Just as Soon as You Think You Have It, You Don't
The eighth grape in the fruit cluster group of God's Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is called gentleness or meekness. W. Phillip Keller says this in A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, Chapter 12, “Humility--Meekness and Gentleness.” “The virtue of humility, meekness, and gentleness comes at great cost. It is not mere convenience that we use to accommodate our own selfish ends. Rather, it is the epitome of a laid-down life, poured out, laid-out, lived-out on behalf of others.”
In our world with its emphasis on aggressiveness, assertiveness and self assuredness; humility, meekness, or gentleness certainly seems to be a foreign idea. In our society, being bold and brazen seems to be the norm, rather than being humble, meek or gentle. We seem to be living in a nation of arrogant or angry people, who are certainly not going be “stepped on,” used as a “door mat” or “walked all over.”
The meekest or humblest man who ever lived didn't learn meekness or humility in the finest military schools of his day, the latest philosophies of his time or by wealth, even though he lived in the most knowledgeable and powerful nation on the face of the earth. He didn't learn it through a position of power or prominence, even though he was the adopted son of a princess.
In the Old Testament, Numbers 12:4, we read, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men, which were upon the face of the earth.” But Moses acquired that distinction and behavior characteristic, only after he realized that he could not single handily deliver his enslaved people from the oppressive rule of his adopted land. He began to understand that reality; when he ran for his life after murdering someone; Moses ended up tending sheep for his future father-in-law, which he did for about 40 years. Moses became a changed man, as he submitted to the Lord and understood who he was in God's sight. Then, God called him to deliver the Israelites in the great Exodus from Egypt. While serving as the leader, the commander in chief, the executive administrator and the law-giver from Mount Sinai; Moses was tested and tried and proven to be a humble and meek man.
A person of humbleness, learns and grows into this virtue and behavior characteristic by the knowledge and experience of God's love. If a person were to pray for humbleness, the Lord would most likely bring about circumstances, situations and people to test and prove our dependence on Him. When people are difficult, abrasive and angry, the challenge is to let the love of the Lord flow through us in gentleness. When situations and circumstances seem to be never ending in their tragedy, trauma and heartaches, the challenge is to trust in the Lord and His love; that is humbleness and meekness.
W. Phillip Keller writes, “that gentleness, meekness and humility should be an everyday, routine part of life as we trust in and walk the path of life with Christ.” Then he quotes from a book entitled QUITE A GENTLEMAN, written over 100 years ago. The italicized words have been added for application to our own lives.
“Here's a list of little marks by which we may single out a gentle, humble, meek person from the common crowd: He/she is particular about trifles, answers his/her letters, returns telephone calls, faxes and e-mails promptly, is quick to acknowledge a kindness, thankful for small mercies, never forgets to pay a debt nor to offer an apology that is due. He/she is punctual, neat, doing everything he/she undertakes as thoroughly and heartily as possible.”
Let me conclude with this rather intriguing and interesting story about humility. It is entitled “Plain Earthenware Bottles.” A number of years ago, a party of Americans were leaving Cairo, Egypt, on a journey across the desert and bought vessels in which to carry water. Each person chose the kind of vessel that pleased them. One found jars of brass whose fine designs attracted him. Another purchased porcelain vessels of rare beauty. A third, however, took some plain earthenware bottles. The trip across the desert was long and wearisome. The heat was intense. Every drop of water was of value. The brass vessels heated; the water became impure, unfit to drink. The costly porcelain jars cracked in the heat and the water was lost. But the plain earthenware bottles kept the water pure and fresh to the journey's end.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Phil 2:5-8 NKJV
Pastor Perry DeGroot