With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love;
All lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. These graces are specially needful in the Church; for their opposites, pride, irascibility, and impatience do much to create heart-burning and division.
I. LOWLINESS OF MIND.
1. Its nature. It is that deep humility, as opposed to pride, arrogance, and conceit, which is produced by a right sense of our weakness, ignorance, and dependence, and by a due appreciation of the undeserved glory to which we are called in Christ Jesus. Men are made humble and self-distrustful less by the knowledge that they are weak, ignorant, and mortal, than by the fact that, while striving for a higher end, they are always coming short of it by their mistakes and their follies, and are in constant need of a strength greater than their own. It is thus possible to unite a high aim with a profound humility.
2. Its importance. It is necessary because God requires it (Micah 6:8); because Christ exemplified it (Matthew 11:29); because God dwells with the humble (Isaiah 58:15); because it is the way to learn wisdom (Proverbs 11:2), to attain grace and holiness (Proverbs 3:5, 6; James 4:6), and to preserve unity in the Church (James 4:1). It has many promises made to it. God will respect the humble (Isaiah 66:2), he will give them grace (1 Peter 5:6), he will exalt them (1 Peter 5:6), and reward them with all good things. Its importance is specially manifest in Church relations. Believers are not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans 12:3), nor exalt themselves above their degree (2 Corinthians 10:13-15), but to esteem others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3). Let believers, therefore, have a humble apprehension of their knowledge, for "knowledge puffeth up" (1 Corinthians 8:1); and humble thoughts of their goodness, for we cannot understand all our errors, and need to be cleansed from our secret faults (Psalm 19:12). Let them "put on humbleness of mind," as the brightest ornament of Christian character (Colossians 3:12).
II. MEEKNESS. There is a natural connection between meekness and humility, and therefore they are often joined together.
1. Its nature. It is that disposition which does not arraign God and does not avenge itself on man. As regards God, it implies a ready submission to the authority of his Word (James 1:21), and a cheerful resignation to his providence, as opposed to murmuring and fretfulness (Psalm 39:9). As regards man, the meek will have a calm temper under provocations; he will be "slow to wrath" (James 1:19); he will give "the soft answer that turneth away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1); he will show that ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which adorns more than rubies (1 Peter 3:4). When joined with strength it. makes one of the most effective characters. It is especially to be esteemed in a religious life. Therefore the apostle says, "Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom" (James 3:13). It is with meekness and fear that we are to give a reason of our hope (1 Peter 3:15), and it is in a spirit of meekness we are to recover the erring (Galatians 6:1). It is one of the nine graces of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
2. Its importance. See how largely it contributes to the usefulness of Christian life. The meek man has great power with men. See how it contributes to the comfort of life; for it keeps him from the friction of temper that so often detracts from true repose; it brings us nearer and nearer to him who was pre-eminently "meek and lowly of spirit" (Matthew 11:29); and it has the promise of the earth for art inheritance (Matthew 5:5). Let us, therefore, seek meekness (Zephaniah 2:3).
1. Its nature. It is the disposition that leads us to suppress our anger (2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22); and is opposed to that irritability often expressively called shortness of temper, which is quick to show resentment. This spirit is of great moment in the Church, where there may be frequent collisions of opinion, or interest, or feeling, and it waits with patience till the passionate or obstinate see their way to more reasonable courses.
2. Its importance. God commands it (Romans 12:17). He exemplifies it (Matthew 5:44; Romans 5:6-8), and his Son has left us a most impressive exhibition of it (1 Peter 2:21-23). We all fail in our duty and need to have due consideration made to our failings. We are above all to bear and. forbear in matters of religious fellowship (Romans 15:1).
IV. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THIS LONG-SUFFERING IS TO BE EXERCISED. "Forbearing one another in love." Christians are not to resent injuries or retaliate for wrongs done to them, but are to bear with each other's infirmities, to cover each other's weaknesses, to pity each other's frailties, and to forgive the provocations they inflict upon each other. This is to be done, not from a principle of merely worldly courtesy or from contemptuous indifference, but from that love which "suffereth long, and is kind." It is "charity which covereth a multitude of sins," just as surely as "hatred stirreth up strife" (Proverbs 10:12). It would be impossible to secure the equanimity of life if the principle of forbearance, prompted and guided by love, were not generally exercised the counsel of the apostle in this whole passage pointedly condemns the proud, arrogant, censorious disposition, which tramples, not only on the rules of courtesy, but of Christian affection. We owe to others what they require at our hands. There is much in us they have to allow for, and therefore it becomes us to allow for much in them. Therefore our very manners ought to show true Christian consideration, for the poet has rightly said -
" And manners are not idle, but the fruit
Of loyal nature and of noble mind." T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;