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Ten Concepts, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

56- Meekness and courage


Some people misunderstand meekness, imagining that the meek is a sluggish person with no influence or effectiveness and that meekness is mere slackening!

Those people may ridicule the meek and treat them with disdain. They may mock him because of his tolerance and patience. They think that because the meek do not condemn people, he would do nothing if he saw evil prevailing over good! No. This is not true meekness.

The right concept of meekness recognizes being connected with manliness, self-respect, courage and gallantry.

We usually remember that the meek person is actually a good, lenient and indulgent person and ignore that he has also courage, self respect and gallantry!

The profound words said in the Book of Ecclesiastes, apply to the conduct of the meek in various situations : "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven... a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Eccl.3:1,7).

Goodness is the general nature of the meek. However, there is time in his life for courage and time for gallantry, but without violence in any case.

Examples: Image: Job and his Friends painting, 1869 by Ilya Repin. صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: القديس أيوب وأصدقاءه، رسم الفنان إليا ربين عام 1869. Image: Job and his Friends painting, 1869 by Ilya Repin.

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: القديس أيوب وأصدقاءه، رسم الفنان إليا ربين عام 1869.

The Lord Christ in His meekness and firmness:

The Lord Christ, the great example of whom it was said, "He will not quarrel or cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets," we see Him firm and strong in cleansing the Temple and driving out those who bought and sold there, saying to them, "It is written 'My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves'" (Matt. 21:12,13).

He was also strong and firm in reprimanding the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23).

He was firm in explaining the Law of the Sabbath and doing good on that day, though He found resistance.

Moses the prophet:

He was known for his amazing gentleness and humbleness: "Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3).

When Moses came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand and saw the people singing and dancing in worship of a golden calf, he was not passive under pretext of humbleness and gentleness but became hot with anger, cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them, as we have discussed this issue before here on in other sections. Then he took the calf which they made, burnt it in the fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water (Ex. 32:19,20). He reprimanded Aaron the high priest who shook before him.

David the Prophet:

Was bold and brave when he saw Goliath defying the armies of the living God, whereas all the army stood in fear in front of that valiant.

The gentle David was the only one who could say, "who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Sam. 17:26).

He inquired from the people about him and was not affected when his elder brother scorned him. Then he said to King Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him... " (1 Sam. 17:32), and drew near and fought the Philistine without fear and said to him, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts... This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand". (1 Sam.17:45,46).

This is David, the gentle youth, with the flute and lyre and at the same time the zealous warrior and valiant.

St. Paul the Apostle:

A good natured calm person who when rebuking the Corinthians said to them, "Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you" (2 Cor. 10:1).

And to the Ephesians he said, "remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31).

In spite of this meekness and gentleness, St. Paul was like a lion in preaching and evangelizing. When he was speaking about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix the Governor was afraid and answered him, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you" (Acts 24:25).

And when he stood before King Agrippa, the King said to him, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian" (Acts 26:28).

In spite of his meekness, St. Paul also did not refrain from rebuking St. Peter the Apostle, and said, "But when I saw that they were not straight forward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, 'If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" (Gal. 2:14).

Elihu, the son of Barachel :

The fourth friend of Job. Because of his meekness he kept silent while Job's three other friends were talking (their speeches taking 28 Chapters of the Book of Job). Elihu did not open his mouth due to his exceeding meekness, seeing that the other three were older than him.

However, he could not keep silent more than this when he found that all the others spoke wrongly. The Scripture says, "Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job.. his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.. and said, 'I am young in years, and your are very old; therefore I was afraid, and dared not declare my opinion to you..

(Job 32:2-7). Then he proceeded to rebuke them.

Indeed, there is a time for every purpose under heaven. There is time for the silence of the meek and a time for talk, a time for his gentleness and a time for his firmness.