We all know that the meek shall inherit the earth, so in that sense it is a good thing to be meek. But what about those who view meekness as a weakness? Is there a difference between being meek and being weak?
What Satan would have us believe
Let’s face it, to some people anything but a position of overwhelming power is weakness. Any sign of giving in, backing down, lack of ruthlessness, and any sign of mercy is all they need to assume you are easy prey. There have always been those people, and there will continue to be, until the Savior comes again. Their definition of strength is one of dominance, superiority, aggressiveness, and an unwillingness to take any prisoners. This is Satan’s way of “making progress.”
What the Savior would have us know
The Lord has always been clear as to the attributes that He values most. Right under Charity, as the crowning virtue, the Savior, himself, claimed to be meek and lowly in heart. If meekness is an attribute of Christ, and the meek will inherit the earth, then what exactly does it take to become meek? In October 2013 General Conference, Ulisses Soares, of the Presidency of the Seventy stated,
Meekness is the quality of those who are God-fearing, righteous, humble, teachable, and patient under suffering. Those who possess this attribute are willing to follow Jesus Christ, and their temperament is calm, docile, tolerant, and submissive.
These attributes are considered at the height of a good character by the Lord. In Matthew 11:29 the Lord said, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” In 1 Peter 3:4 we are told that a meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God. And Moroni 7:44 says that no one is acceptable before God except the meek and lowly of heart. Clearly God values meekness over any of the more aggressive attributes.
As stated by President Soares, those who develop meekness are those who are willing to follow Jesus. They are patient in their suffering, and have learned to become calm in their demeanor or personality. This means they have mastered their temper, subdued their pride, and are more concerned about what the Lord thinks of their behavior than anyone else.
Meekness is a spiritual gift
As with most attributes of Godliness, meekness is a gift of God. To obtain an attribute of Godliness we must seek the Holy Ghost and learn to live by His teachings and direction. We learn to subject our own will to the will of the Spirit, and learn to be obedient at all times and in all things. Does this mean we become a milktoast? (That means a weakling. Think of how strong a piece of toasted bread is when you have poured milk over it.) Of course not.
Interestingly enough, it is the nature of those who follow Christ to be some of the strongest people on earth. When we follow the teachings of Christ we gain confidence in our course of action, since we know that what we are doing is pleasing in his sight. We trust our behavior because we are on his errand, doing his work, and therefore cannot fail. We learn to deal with others in kinder ways, being more patient than we were before we began acting like Christ. The more practice we get following the dictates or directions from the Spirit, the more we learn to care about the feelings and salvation of those around us. We learn to have a love of teaching and leading by example. We learn to rely on the influence of the Holy Ghost to soften people’s hearts and to open doors of opportunity so we can accomplish our assignments.
How do we develop meekness?
President Soares said in the same talk, “Being meek does not mean weakness, but means behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, have self-worth, and self control.” Learning to be meek takes time and practice. We must learn to convey our feelings with patience and gentle persuasion. Determination, courage and faithfulness are attributes of one who is meek. This is a process that is practiced day after day, and year after year. We all have the ability to become meek, but it takes time to cultivate the ability, and it comes only as we are instructed by the Holy Ghost, and as we remain worthy of His companionship.
One of the outstanding characteristics of Christ was his ability to influence the lives of others for good. This is a result of being meek. Those who are meek set moral examples, and deliberately try to influence others to be better than they are. They see the best in each person and seek to bring it out for others to see it as well. When we put off the natural man and become meek (Mosiah 3:19), we are putting off the natural man and becoming a saint, as in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A saint is one who follows Christ and seeks to live like, and be like him.
The answer to the question posed in the title and first paragraph of this article is no. Meekness is not weakness. Meekness and weakness are opposites of each other. A weak person lacks strength or conviction. A Meek person lacks for nothing, being strong in Christ, confident and full of love (which casts out fear). To be meek is to be powerful in spiritual things and willing to follow the Lord’s will in all things and at all times.
Presidency of the Seventy