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Meekness: A Necessary Virtue for Zion Pt. 2
This post is a continuation of the discussion from Part 1 on meekness and its relevance to becoming a Zion person and establishing Zion as a collective entity.
The meek don’t misuse power. They have no need to; they have nothing to prove and nobody to compete with. A lack of meekness leads one to exercise unrighteous dominion, while possession of the attribute prevents it. When one ceases to control, manipulate, exploit, or infringe upon the agency of others, his own agency increases. The gentle and prudent use of our own agency thus constitutes grounds for the Lord to increase our dominions. This is why the meek shall inherit the earth.1 Those with meekness are respected, therefore, by other mortals, by angels, by holy patriarchs, and even God Himself.
The respect of agency inherit in the attribute of meekness includes honoring the agency of God, which leads one to be “willing to submit to all things the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him.”2 In this regard, meekness produces a high-trust, high-submission level of discipleship. The meek individual knows that the Lord rebukes and chastens those He loves—recognizing that chastening is akin to purification.3 “I, the Lord, will contend with Zion, and plead with her strong ones, and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me.”4 To the meek the cleansing is helpful, and they actively seek the Lord’s tutoring guidance rather than being offended and hardening their hearts against it.
The meek refrain from complaining while in the midst of divine tutoring—whether it be through direct communication or circumstantial orchestration. Because they understand the dealings of God, not only can they take divine correction and instruction, they thrive on it. They are thus teachable in every situation, leading to increased knowledge and power.
A lack of meekness will prevent the establishment of Zion because it hinders the submission of one’s will and the consecration of one’s worldly goods. To Martin Harris, who was coveting his own property, tentatively holding back the consecration of his farm for the printing of the Book of Mormon, the Lord asked: “canst thou be humble and meek, and conduct thyself wisely before me?”5
The meek see past the illusion of merchandise, fine apparel, and praise of the world. Because of this, they are often associated in tandem with the poor.6 The meek are not insecure or proud; there is no proverbial social ladder or authoritative hierarchy to be climbed. At one point the Lord was “not well pleased” with William W. Phelps “for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me.”7 Notice the antithetical parallelism between seeking to excel (or outdo others) and lacking meekness.
The meek feel no need to find fault with others, especially not for temporal differences. "He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God."8 They maintain a degree of polite respect, even for their persecutors. Joseph Smith remarked:
"Some of the company thought I was not a very meek Prophet; so I told them: 'I am meek and lowly in heart, and will personify Jesus for a moment, to illustrate the principle, and cried out with a loud voice, 'Woe unto you, ye doctors; woe unto you, ye lawyers; woe unto you, ye scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites!' But you cannot find the place where I ever went that I found fault with their food, their drink, their house, their lodgings; no, never; and this is what is meant by the meekness and lowliness of Jesus."9
The meek are patient and even long-suffering with the imperfections of others, never mocking people for their shortcomings. Because of this forbearance the Lord bestows His grace on the meek. "Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness."10
The meek forgo defending themselves in the face of opposition and negative feedback. When the people in the Nephite society “began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning. . . Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.”11 The apostle Peter called for the saints to be meek when he said: “be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”12
Those lacking in meekness can be peevish—which is to be fretful, apt to complain, easily vexed or fretted, hard to please, childish.13 We learn from the book of Numbers that "the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."14 Interestingly enough, the context behind this statement is Miriam and Aaron complaining against Moses. Think of the difference in the mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity of Moses versus the children of Israel in general. When trapped at the bank of the red sea with an oncoming army of Egyptians they panicked; he was calm, trusting the Lord's divine intervention.15 When in need of physical sustenance they doubted and complained; he petitioned the Lord and performed miracles that provided for them.16 When he climbed the mountain to see the face of the Lord, they cowered. When he went up to receive the higher law, they were found worshipping an idol. When the Lord threatened to destroy them for their wickedness, he interceded on their behalf, offering his place in the book of life as a ransom.17 They were peevish; he was meek.
Jesus can invite us to “learn of me, and be meek and lowly of heart,” because He is the meekest of all.18 If we will “learn of [Him],” He has promised that we “shall find rest unto [our] souls.”19 Jesus respected agency, He showed forth a mild and gentle temper, He did not revile against those who reviled Him. Jesus demonstrated righteous restraint in the forbearance of abusing His power. He suffered unjustly at the hands of wicked men and refrained from lashing out or cursing God as many would have. He subjected himself to their taunts, their abuse, and their physical torture, all the while maintaining His dignity in a poised spirit of meekness.
After the high priest asked Jesus concerning His disciples and His doctrine, Jesus queried why they were asking Him, and invited them to seek out those whom He had taught, who heard Him. At this, “one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?”20 Notice Jesus's composure and boldness in His meek response: “Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?”21 Unlike His opposer's brash, knee-jerk reaction, Jesus maintained self-control.
In order to fulfill their missions the 144,000 must make sure their calling and election and have the faith to perform and experience miracles. Meekness is required for these—it is a precursor to faith which enables miracles, and to obtaining a hope which is the equivalent of receiving a promise of eternal life. Remember Mormon’s words:
“Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope. And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart. If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart.”22
Meekness will be required to receive the Lord’s Davidic servant and the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon which shall come forth. The proud will cling to their current orthodox paradigm, thinking “the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.”23 When more of God's word comes forth, those who lack meekness will "set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not."24 A wo is pronounced by the Lord on such individuals:
“Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more! And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness.”25
As we ponder the importance of this timeless virtue and it’s pertinence to the establishment of Zion, we are filled with a desire to follow Jesus’ admonition to: “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.”26
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Matthew 5:5; Psalms 37:11
Revelation 3:19; Mosiah 23:21
2 Nephi 28:13; Helaman 6:39; D&C 35:14; D&C 88:17
TPJS p. 270
3 Nephi 6:12-13
1 Peter 3:8-9
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
2 Nephi 28:5
2 Nephi 9:28
2 Nephi 28:27-28