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Meekness: A Virtue Necessary for Zion Pt. 1
In order for Zion to be birthed as a collective entity, the spirit of Zion must first be born in all of us. To this end, meekness is particularly important, for it is the foundational virtue that enables the necessary learning, unity, and preservation of agency required for Zion to be established.
Meekness is being mild-tempered and gentle. The meek are not easily provoked or irritated. This is because of the great honor they hold for the agency of man. Indeed, the meek always maintain a deep respect for agency, and allow others’ use of agency to prick their hearts and affect them in positive ways. They feel no need to murmur, sulk, or react due to the choices of others. The meek recognize that others have a right to think, speak, and act for themselves. They understand that all are stewards over the time, talents, and resources they have; and are ultimately responsible for their own progression, well-being, and the energy they send out and surround themselves with. The meek know that people must make decisions in relation to these stewardships, and that these decisions naturally affect others. Their understanding of the mysteries of God provide them with an unlimited perspective regarding God’s ability to make productive use of every choice. Meekness thus involves not complaining as a result of the provocations of others or the dealings of God.
Lehi demonstrated a gentle and mild temper when his wife Sariah complained against him for being a visionary man. Remember her lament: “thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.”1 Lehi did not rebuke his wife or revile against her. He did not take her doubt of him and his experiences personally. Instead, he confidently provided her with “comfort” through his “manner of language,” reassuring her of the goodness of God and the promises he had received.2 Lehi understood that “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”3
The meek are easy to be entreated. They don’t feel a need to get defensive when they’re critiqued or asked to improve. They view feedback and invitations to change as gifts in the form of opportunities for sanctification. Their ego has been swallowed up in the love of God and fellow man. The meek are approachable, it is easy to ask them for help. They don’t view other people as problems. The gentleness and love in their hearts is communicated in their body language. The meek are in no rush, they are patient and present enough in the moment to look the other person in the eyes and listen intently. This allows the Spirit to speak to them, clarifying any unspoken needs and desires. The meek are perceptive, and have the necessary discernment to detect the intents and motivations behind people’s actions. When they think upon why someone acted in a less than ideal way, their pondering leads to inspiration.
The meek are willing to accept help from others, knowing that God uses people as instruments in His hands. It took meekness for Alma to return to the land of Ammonihah and ask Amulek "Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?" not knowing he had been prepared by an angel.4 Alma's meekness in his time of want not only allowed Amulek and his house to be blessed, but also supplied him with the spiritual wake up call he needed to rise to his potential.5
Because their respect of agency is so high, the meek feel less of a need to control everything in life, allowing them to ‘go with the flow’ so to speak. In placing no undue expectations on others they experience less frustrations and disappointments. In connection with this, the meek feel no need to manipulate people because they have no ulterior motives. This enables the meek to “use boldness, but not overbearance,” when preaching or teaching, being “filled with love.”6
“And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.”7
“Those who desire in their hearts, in meekness, to warn sinners to repentance, let them be ordained unto this power.”8
“But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.”9
The meek do not seek opportunities to fight or contend, nor do they glory in it. The meek seek no advantages over others, and if they do obtain them by virtue of the Lord's orchestration, they don't exploit them.
Through the grace of God Moroni and his men were able to trap and encircle an invading army of Lamanites double their size. Faced with no way out except death, their foes were “struck with terror.”10 “Now Moroni, when he saw their terror, commanded his men that they should stop shedding their blood.”11 Moroni could have simply obliterated them, but having gained the advantage, he paused, demonstrating the meekness in his heart. After testifying boldly to Zerahemnah of the reason for the Nephites’ triumph, Moroni provided the enemies with an opportunity to deliver up their weapons of war, promising to spare their lives if they would “go [their] way and come not again to war against [the Nephites].”12 After Zerahemnah rejected taking an oath not to return, attempted to kill Moroni, and “stirred up the remainder of his soldiers to anger, to contend more powerfully against the Nephites,” Moroni was angry because of their stubbornness and commanded his people to slay them. The battle ensued again and the Lamanites, whose naked skins and bare heads were exposed “began to be swept down.”13 When Zerahemnah saw they were about to be destroyed he “cried mightily unto Moroni,” promising that if they would spare their lives they would never come back to war against them. The meekness of Moroni was again displayed:
“And it came to pass that Moroni caused that the work of death should cease again among the people. And he took the weapons of war from the Lamanites; and after they had entered into a covenant with him of peace they were suffered to depart into the wilderness.”14
David similarly had multiple chances to slay King Saul, yet spared his life. These opportunities were, no doubt, divinely orchestrated. Each time David declared to Saul “the Lord delivered thee into my hand today.”15 It seems the Lord’s purposes behind these occasions were at least twofold: to test David, and to showcase David’s character to those around him. For David could have easily overtaken Saul, but he respected him and his office, notwithstanding the fallen king’s efforts to destroy him. Perhaps David’s gentleness toward Saul in his decayed, jealous state was one contributing factor to the Lord’s mercy upon him and his posterity following his commission of adultery.
Because they are not caught up in themselves and how they’ve been wronged, the meek find it easier to extend mercy, and thus secure for themselves the same. The meek can honor the agency of others without reviling against them because they trust deeply in the justice of God. Truly, this confidence in the purity of God’s judgments was what enabled David to maintain such meekness as to stay his hand against Saul.
“And David said to Saul. . .Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.”16
“The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’s anointed. And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.”17
What a test of character for David to pass before obtaining the glory of kingship. Think of the respect he gained from all those who witnessed his righteous restraint. This type of meekness—returning love for hate, submission for revenge, and trust in God for personal vindication—is at the heart of the spirit of the law revealed in the sermon on the mount.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?”18
Someone whose character has been refined to the state of actually living this teaching of Jesus can be trusted with great authority and influence—and David was.
1 Nephi 5:2
1 Nephi 5:4-6
Alma 8:20; Alma 10:6
1 Samuel 26:23; 1 Samuel 24:10
1 Samuel 24: 9, 11-12
1 Samuel 26:23-24
Matthew 5:43-44, 46