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28 March 2015

For I am Meek

Elder Eyring used a verse tonight in the Women's Broadcast that has been a puzzle to me. The parts I understood, I have liked for a long time; it's one of my favorite passages. But that word... meek. What is it?

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
-Matthew 11:28-30

I determined a while ago that I didn't think that the usual definition of meek worked very well.

humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.

I wasn't sure what meekness was, scripturally speaking, but I was confident that this isn't it. I started to study it, reading various verses in the scriptures, but without the meaning of the word, I didn't really get anywhere; the various verses were less defining it than admonishing us to have it. I ended up getting distracted by other questions about the scriptures.

Anyway, I'm not sure if it's a disadvantage or an advantage, but I am sick as a dog, and listened to the broadcast from home tonight. So when he used this verse, I could get totally distracted by trying again to figure out this word meek, and that's what happened. I don't have any idea what else Brother Eyring said, but I did figure out the word, and I'm pretty excited about that!

I went to the Online Strong's Concordance, and I typed in "meek." That brings up a list of all the places that the English word "meek" appears in the Bible. I looked around there, and it was interesting, but I wasn't finding what I was looking for. Not until I noticed at the top of the search results were a number of tabs, and one of them is labeled "dictionaries," and it looked like there were 2 results there. It was at the second one where I found what I was looking for, in Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

The meaning of prautes "is not readily expressed in English, for the terms meekness, mildness, commonly used, suggest weakness and pusillanimity to a greater or less extent, whereas prautes does nothing of the kind. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a rendering less open to objection than 'meekness'; 'gentleness' has been suggested, but as prautes describes a condition of mind and heart, and as 'gentleness' is appropriate rather to actions, this word is no better than that used in both English Versions. It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was 'meek' because he had the infinite resources of God at His command. Described negatively, meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all. ..."

And then it made so much more sense. The Savior's mild response to the Adversary's temptation had nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with the assurance that comes with complete control - and that is the heart of meekness.


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