Recently, I was reading through I Peter chapter three during my devotion time. This is a popular portion of scripture dealing specifically with women. As a young lady who grew up in church, these verses were quite familiar to me:
“Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning… but let it be the hidden man of the heart…even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
I’ve heard this verse explained many times; but each time I walked away with the general idea that all women were supposed to be meek and quiet. This wasn’t a problem for me; because, I am naturally introverted and quiet. I do not mind if I enter a room and no one speaks to me. I prefer to observe. While I enjoy a deep, thought-provoking conversation, I dislike trying to facilitate small talk with a stranger. Also, I don’t like confrontation, and try as much as possible to avoid ruffling anyone’s feathers. I don’t enjoy being in the spotlight; so I follow the rules, because I don’t want to end up in trouble with all eyes on me. Therefore, I had never thought much about this Scripture. I mentally placed a check in that box; because, I was naturally wired to be meek and quiet.
On this particular occasion though, I began to ponder the idea of a meek and quiet spirit. You see, I am introverted. However, I know plenty of Christian women who are outgoing, boisterous, and even downright crazy at times. Many of these women, I respect and admire. Some of them are even my personal role models. I believe God’s Word is true; so I knew I was going to need to study this verse, if I wanted to make sense of this apparent contradiction.
“I know plenty of Christian women who are outgoing, boisterous, and even downright crazy at times.”
Since I love grammar, I decided to start my study with a few definitions within the context of the scripture. Meek means to be gentle, obedient, compliant, or submissive. The next word was quiet, which means to be still, calm, undisturbed, untroubled, or peaceful. Both of these definitions were in line with how I had formerly perceived this verse; so I continued.
The last word I studied was spirit. Spirit means the non-physical part of a person or the soul. Suddenly, it was making sense to me. Christ didn’t say that all women ought have a meek and quiet personality or a meek and quiet demeanor. He said that our spirits and our souls ought to be meek and quiet. That is a HUGE distinction.
While I am physically meek and quiet, there are plenty of times that my spirit is not. When I get angry, discouraged, or stressed, my spirit is certainly not quiet. My spirit is raging and full of turmoil. That turmoil then starts to spill over into my actions through yelling, complaining, pouting, or even gossiping; none of which would be characteristic of a meek person. Ouch! It seems I am not as good at being meek and quiet as I had supposed.
“Suddenly, it was making sense…”
Once I realized the distinction in my quiet personality and my quiet spirit, I realized there was plenty of work to be done.
See, if my spirit is meek, I don’t sit in church judging what everyone else is doing, saying, or wearing. I am striving to make myself obedient to Christ, and to be gentle with those who are learning and growing in Christ. When my spirit is quiet, I don’t yell at my son for dumping out the dog’s water for the fourth time today; rather, I calmly explain why his behavior is going to have consequences.
The old hymn It Is Well With My Soul is the perfect illustration of what a quiet spirit looks like in our daily walk. When the bills are bigger than the paycheck, it is well with my soul. When it seems I can’t keep up with all the things in my schedule, it is well with my soul. When I hear an false rumor about my family, it is well with my soul. When my feelings are hurt, it is well with my soul.
When my soul is quiet, then my actions become meek; because I am focusing on my own attitude and behavior. My own failures cause me to be more forgiving of other’s flaws. That forgiveness lends gentleness to my words and kindness to my actions.
Can you honestly say your soul is at peace? Is your main focus on your own obedience to Christ, and gently leading those under your influence? If so, then you have discovered the true meaning of possessing “… a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”