Be Meek Lions And Lie Not Against The Truth
Elwin R. Roach
"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?... with meekness...let him...lie not against the truth." James 3:13-14.
In the early hours of the dawn of creation, a wayward particle in man, earthiness, cast a dark shadow over all living things. That harbinger of death came when the woman believed the lie of the subtle serpent and gave heed to her carnal desire. But now, we see another day. It is steadily breaking over the horizon as it spreads its warm wings of life about us. This day is the remedy. It is a day of light and liberty in Christ Jesus. It is a day that is full of unbridled life, one that is undergirded by the power of meekness. It exposes the lie, leaving it groundless, and establishes that which is real; namely, the substance contained in the foundation of truth. Its rays are piercing the darkness, and we once again shout for joy as did the sons of God when they saw the foundation of the earth being laid. Yet, the unwise of the world hope to put out its flame by futilely lying against it. Nothing has changed in the adamic agenda. It has been this way since the fall of man, and is the same as when Jesus walked in the meekness of truth. And again, as James asked:
"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?.. with meekness...let him...lie not against the truth." James 3:13-14.
What is it, do we suppose, that constitutes lying against the truth? Some would say to lie against the truth can only be when the person knows they are lying, and especially if it is with the intention of deceiving people. Others might say that any variation from what is the truth is a lie, whether one knows it is factual or not, or regardless of the intent of the heart. And then, another could argue that the letter of the word may be one hundred percent accurate; but the spirit of the man or woman may be that of a liar, so therefore, the inspiration of the word would be that of a lie, and would be a lie. Such persuasions are the common battlegrounds of theological haranguing, of which, we will not enter. Yet, we will notice what it is to lie against the truth, or at least see what some of its characteristics are, and hopefully, reap some worth from it.
The context of James 3:13 indicates that a lie of this sort is something which comes from not only the lack of knowledge; but it is an inferior product of man's wisdom. It is devilish. Hypocrisy (acting) is a part of the lie. Lying against the truth produces bitter envy, strife, and confusion. The sweet fruit of truth, on the other hand, genders the exact opposite:
"Who is a wise man and *endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." James 3:13-18.
*endued with knowledge: Grk epistemon, from epistamai, to put the mind upon, that is, comprehend, or be acquainted with (Strong’s Exh. Conc.) Intelligent, experienced (Thayer’s Grk. Eng. Lexicon of the NT.)
Suppose we asked various people what it means to them for someone to be meek, and I am sure we would get close to the same answers: "A meek person is not eager to act or speak!" "A meek person has no backbone!" "A meek person is timid!" "One who is meek is easily swayed." "Meek is weak!"
For the most part, meekness is a word that is not commonly understood, at least, not as it is used in the scriptures. To be meek is not what most people want to be, especially men; for it is not uncommon for people to see a meek person as the skinny guy on the beach who is getting sand kicked in his face by the muscle-man who has all the beautiful girls flocking around him. I must say, that is a weak image of meek.
Strong's Concordance says that meekness (Grk. praus) means, mildness, humility, humble; but this definition falls short, at least, I believe it does; for other recognized scholars expands the thought a great deal more. Kittle and Friedrich's Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament sheds additional light upon it, saying:
"Praus is never used of God...the point is that the gentle must become warriors...praus is a quality of the royal hero...as pleasing to God... it is an antidote to arrogance....A quiet and expectant bearing of destiny that is grounded in God is a mark of piety....It enables the believer to correct others without arrogance. In Colossians 3:12 it is one of the gifts of election, and in Ephesians 4:2 it is worthy of Christian calling."
The noted linguistic scholar, William Barclay, in his word study on meekness said: "In the Greek, praus (meekness) is connected with anger... it is the quality of the man who is angry for the right reasons, against the right people, in the right way, and for the right length of time. The basic idea of the word is not so much gentleness as strength under control. According to the meaning of meekness, and according to the Greek language usage, Matthew 5:5 could be translated (paraphrased) as: 'O the bliss of the man who is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time, who has every instinct, and impulse, and passion under control because he himself is God-controlled, who has the humility to realize his own ignorance and his own weakness, for such a man is a king among men!'
"Plato...uses meek of the sheep-dog who is gentle to the flock but savage to the enemies of the flock. The word indicates a gentleness at the back of which there is courage and strength. This is further illustrated by the fact that the Bible regards this quality of praus as the distinctive quality both of Moses (Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:1)."
Barclay adds to his thought in his commentary on Matthew, saying that "Meekness is the word the Greeks used to describe a domesticated, trained animal, which has learned to obey the voice of its master. Meekness is not weakness, spinelessness or even subservience, but the quality of self-control which can also accept the control of another."
The late Bible scholar, John Meggison, gave us a similar definition: "The Greek word for meek was commonly used in our Lord's day to describe wild animals, like horses, who have been made to work with men. Nothing spiritless or empty is meant, but rather the description of an energy which, instead of exploding [jumping up on their hind legs and coming down on thunderous hoofs in a cloud of dust], is now willing to be guided and directed. Their strength is now harnessed and trained to work with men. The meek or tamed are not people who have been born empty and have no inner source to master, no vitality to be taught control. The meek or trained are those whose powerful impulses have been put into understanding. The love of God by His Holy Spirit has made these realize the blessedness of being guided by the Lord's Spirit of helpful service."
We can see that meekness carries not only absolute submission to the master; but also the sense of humility in which one knows that he or she is of no value to the Kingdom of God apart from the King. That is the wisdom from above, and not from beneath, to which James was speaking. It is a gentleness which is full of courage and strength, and it fits very well the description of Moses in Numbers. It says that he was , "...very meek (Septuagint, praus), above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." (Num. 12:3).
It is obvious that meekness does not come as a free gift, but from walking through the wilderness of fire. Moses had his fire for forty years in the wilderness. But first, he was nursed for three months by the sincere milk of the word from his mother. Afterwards, he was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became powerful in his words and works. When he was of full age, before he was meek, he killed the Egyptian who was beating one of his brethren. Judgment was in his hand, but not with understanding, compassion, and equity. Moses was not yet meek and was, therefore, rejected by his own people. (Do we feel rejected? I wonder why?). When Pharaoh heard about it, he sought to slay him, and the journey of forty years into the refining fire began, making him very meek above all the men upon the face of the earth. (ref. Acts 7:19-30).
We suppose that Jesus was also educated by the Egyptians, yet under the guiding hand of Joseph and His mother, when he had to flee from Herod who had sought to kill him. Upon returning, and after He was of full age, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:1). Mark 1:12 says he was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit. Both are probably right. His spirit was led by the Spirit, while His flesh had to be driven. Regardless, the point is -- He became meek by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8), and I use the word meek, for it carries the same meaning as obedient; namely, attentive , hearkening, compliance, or submission, to listen attentively; heed or conform to a command or authority (Strong's). There is little wonder why Paul used meek to described Jesus in 2 Corinthians 10:1 "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ," not to mention Jesus using it in reference to Himself, "I am meek and lowly" (Matthew 11:29); for He was truly meek, having all the power of the universe under full control at all times and in complete submission to His Father.
As many view the word, neither Moses nor Jesus were in the remotest way "meek." The world, as we know, paints the picture of Jesus as a wimpy, long-haired, sad-eyed, lazy cult leader. Ah, but wonders to behold! He was a true man of meekness! He was meek, very meek, meek enough that He was angry always at the right time, in the right place, at the right people; such as, when He cleared the temple, cast out demons, and called the Pharisees what they were -- a generation of vipers, serpents, and sons of the devil. He was never angry at the wrong time. He did not get mad and scold the woman caught in adultery. He didn't even rebuke her condemners. At that time, He simply said, "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone." If it had been you or me, we might have said, "You hypocritical charlatans! Who are you to condemn this woman? You self-righteous sack of religious chauvinists, where is the man who was with her when she was caught in the act? If you stone her, then stone him as well. If you release him, then release her as well." That is how we would have probably responded, and if Jesus had done the same, He would have been like Moses when he killed the Egyptian. But He had already become meek. His every impulse and passion was under control. They were under control at all times. And that, my friends, is the meek character we should have. Rather than desiring to be the greatest of the wise, or most powerful moguls in the world or the church, we should be extremely meek, otherwise, we will never have the mind that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:4-6), nor will ever have what it takes to rule in His Kingdom.
Having gone through fire himself, Paul was also meek and had wisdom from above. Although not using the word, meek, Oswald Chambers wrote expressly of it concerning the apostle, and what we should be as well:
"'None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself …' (Acts 20:24).
"It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what He requires. Common sense, covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes your guide. You may be more prosperous and successful from the world's perspective, and will have more leisure time, if you never acknowledge the call of God. But once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will always be there to prod you on to do His will. You will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.
"What do I count in my life as 'dear to myself'? If I have not been seized by Jesus Christ and have not surrendered myself to Him, I will consider the time I decide to give God and my own ideas of service as dear. I will also consider my own life as 'dear to myself.' But Paul said he considered his life dear so that he might fulfill the ministry he had received, and he refused to use his energy on anything else. This verse shows an almost noble annoyance by Paul at being asked to consider himself. He was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Our ordinary and reasonable service to God may actually compete against our total surrender to Him. Our reasonable work is based on the following argument which we say to ourselves, 'Remember how useful you are here, and think how much value you would be in that particular type of work.' That attitude chooses our own judgment, instead of Jesus Christ, to be our guide as to where we should go and where we could be used the most. Never consider whether or not you are of use--but always consider that 'you are not your own' (1 Corinthians 6:19). You are His."
Brethren, it is imperative to be meek men and women who are humble, yet are always angry at the right people, at the right time, and at the right place. Let us have every human instinct, every impulse, and distracting passion under control, and let it not be the control of the proud, self-righteousness which often rises to the occasion. Let us have everything under control due to being in union with our Lord. Such meekness is indispensable. Such meekness is honorable. Moreover, one thing that comes with godly meekness is the realization of our own ignorance and human weakness. Meek people, as William Barclay said, are kings among men, and they are the ones trusted with a great inheritance: "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5. These inheritors will not lie against the truth. The truth is, they cannot lie against the truth. It is as impossible for them to lie as it is for God to lie; for they are in His image and likeness.
I am sure that some will say, "It certainly is possible for me to lie. For that matter, is hard for me not to lie." And, no doubt, they can and do lie; but if they lie against the truth, they are not meek, and their wisdom is earthly, sensual, devilish. It is not from above.
A lie is a statement that deviates from or perverts the truth. A lie is a fabrication due to evil intent. It can also be something said due to the lack of knowledge. Regardless of the origin of the lie, and even though it seems very real and believable, a lie has no substance. There is no foundation to the assertion. But lying against the truth is not just something said because knowledge is lacking. It is born from the subtle wisdom of man. It is devilish. Hypocrisy is a ripe fruit of such a lie. Lying against the truth produces bitter envy, strife, and confusion. Regardless of the motive, it has no substance, and has, therefore, nothing substantial to stand on for any length of time. Only as long as the lie is believed will it be something firm enough for support. When it is exposed for what it is, or is not, the façade vaporizes, and everything which was built upon the lie crumbles. Little wonder that Jesus said, "...Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen..." Revelation 18:2. It has been built with lies.
The sweet fruit of truth, on the other hand, genders just the opposite. We may have believed a lie and came tumbling down when truth shined in its face; but that which exposed the lie is the same thing that lifted us from the ash-heap of despair. "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men." Psalm 90:3. And, "...God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6 .
It is therein, in the face of Jesus Christ that the glory of God is seen, and our knowledge is increased beyond measure. Reality is beheld. He who is Truth is known. The Foundation of gold is laid firmly beneath our feet, as the dragon, the devil, satan, the father of lies, is cast into the bottomless pit, leaving him with nothing upon which to stand. Truth, and nothing else, is an indestructible foundation. A lie can never be so pure and firm. For instance, let me relate a story that I mentioned a few years ago that brings this into focus:
A certain pastor of good report, and who was loved dearly in his small, Midwestern town, was faced with a dilemma. After his Sunday evening service, he gathered up his Bible and headed for home to his wife who had remained behind nursing a cold. His usual route took him past a bar which was known for its rowdiness, being frequented by the derelicts of the community -- drunks, prostitutes, losers of all kinds. As he drove by, his eye caught something that shook him to the core. There was George, one of his most devout elders, staggering out of the bar with a painted, drunken floozy under his arm. Neither of the two could hardly stand, as they leaned upon and stumbled all over each other. His heart sank. He could not believe his eyes. But it was clear what was going on -- an upright elder of his church and community, a husband of a dozen years with three fine children had fallen from grace and slid into the depths of sin. His heart went out to his wife and children who would be devastated when they learned of his unfaithfulness and moral degeneracy. What was he to do?
The next morning, he called together an emergency meeting with the other elders of the church, and since the pastor was such a respected man, what he told them was never doubted, even though it seemed impossible for one of their own to fall in such a way. Notwithstanding, after much prayer, and a long, painful debate on what should be done, it was finally settled. They would confront the brother after the Sunday morning church services, and proceed from there, hoping he would repent and the threatening blaze could be doused before it spread into a four-alarm fire.
Well, needless to say, such a word could not be kept secret. The elders, including the pastor, had told their wives, and each wife, of course, had a faithful friend in whom she could trust with a secret, and each one of those friends had a friend or two in whom they could trust, and you guessed it. Before the week was over, the whole congregation knew about George's escapade. He was the talk of the church.
Sunday morning came with quite a cloud of uncertain anticipation over the people. Inside, was a subdued roar of whispering and mumbling ascending like warm steam from a barnyard on an early, cold winter's morning. The pastor knew that the word had gotten out and wished he could be anywhere except where he was. That fateful day might spell the end of his career, and would certainly be the end of his friend's reputation and marriage.
George and his family arrived late, a few minutes before the services started. As they walked down the long aisle to their usual places up front, their presence was like an unseen wave sweeping over the congregation. Silence enveloped each row of pews as they moved hesitantly, then more quickly with their children. They knew something was wrong, but had no idea what it might be. For one, the church was unusually full, which was strange, to say the least.
They settled into their pews, and the "worship" began; but it was not worship. The spirit of it was as chilled as a cold December night. Every word had to be pried from their lips by rote and habit and by the laborious prodding of the song leader. There was no joy, no spirit of worship at all.
After a couple of songs, and to everybody's surprise, George jumped to his feet and bolted upon the platform and to the podium. A long pause embraced him, and finally catching his breath, he began to speak. The people were sure that his sin had eaten on him so furiously through the week that he was going to come clean and confess before the whole church. Anticipation was ripping at the seams of the church.
A lone tear rolled down his cheek as George's mouth opened and his quivering lips began to form words. He said, "My friends, you may be shocked at what I am about to say; but there's something I have to tell you, or else I will explode, and if I don't share this with you, I know my wonderful wife will.
"You see, last Sunday I was caught up by the spirit of something, and I don't quite know what to do about it. This had never happened to me before; but I don't think I want it to end." Like a rushing wind, everyone gasped, and the pastor moaned. Nevertheless, he continued:
"After church last Sunday, as Peggy and I were on our way home, we drove past that little bar down on the corner of 2nd Street and Rounder Road. Just as the glare of the flashing neon sign pierced my eye, the word of the Spirit pierced my heart, telling me to pull over and go in. Since our kids were spending the weekend with their cousins, we could have done so; but I knew that God would not tell me to go into a place where Christians didn't go. Even if I wasn't going in to drink booze, I knew I had to abstain from the very appearance of evil. What would people think if they saw us walking into a bar, especially the infamous Rounder. Regardless of all my rock-solid religious arguments, and no matter how hard I tried to shake the feeling, I could not. When I mentioned it to Peggy, she said, 'I really thought I had lost it, or maybe the devil was tempting me; but after hearing you, now I know that it was the Lord, and He told me the same thing.' Praise God! What a confirmation! Can you imagine that? Would God tell us to go into a bar? It was unheard of. Nevertheless, whether you believe me or not, that is what He told us, and we obeyed.
"I wheeled the car around, skidded to a stop at the front door, and with the courage of lions, we walked in. The dark barroom was filled with choking smoke so thick you could cut it with a dull knife, and the air reeked with odor of stale beer and liquor; but that only lasted for a moment. Our presence lifted that wafting haze as a vibrant breeze of fresh air blew from on high.
"One old, leathery, sunbaked, weather-worn drunk looked up with his hardened bloodshot eyes that had seen more hell than ten people in a lifetime. His glare of defiance melted before us, as he began to sob, uncontrollably. A woman sitting with two men just to the left of us, clearly a woman of the night, gazed intently into our eyes, looking first into my wife's and then deeply into mine, and she said, 'Oh, my God! Tell me about Him--PLEASE! I know you can; for I see Him in your eyes. He is the peace I have been searching for all my life, but could not find it, and I know it is in Him, and now I see Him. I have found Him--in you! Please, tell me about my Jesus.'
"Both Peg and I opened our mouths in unison. Our voices resounded, sounding as angels of heaven, trumpeting the clear notes of God's love and grace for every soul. Peg's piercing words flew a straight path to the ones in the booths, and mine to the woman of the night and those sitting at the bar. We all felt the mighty hand of God sweep over and through us all, staggering each of us as if we were all drunk. Those who had been drunk on liquor sobered instantly and were made drunk in the most wonderful way of the Spirit. There was not a dry eye in the place. Some were weeping from deep conviction, others laughing with overwhelming joy, while some were held in a fixed trance, as if they were seeing something no one else could see, and saying, 'My Lord and my God! My Lord and My God!' The prostitute, who had first asked me to tell her about Jesus, fell off the barstool, and I barely caught her before she hit the floor. I wrapped my arms around her and headed for the door; for she was saying, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe.' I don't know if she was hyperventilating due to all the excitement, or if it was the Spirit. Nevertheless, I practically dragged her outside.
"As we stumbled through the door, a wave of the Spirit hit us both square in the face, as if pushing us back into the bar. We staggered backward a few steps and hung onto the doorpost of the bar. Even then it was hard to keep her from falling as we clung to each other. This only lasted a minute or so, and like a shot, she broke from my arms, exclaiming, 'I see Jesus! I see Jesus! He is my Lord. But now I see Him in me, and I am in Him! He is my Savior! He is my all! Praise God I see Jesus! Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much for bringing my Jesus to me!'
"We hugged and cried and praised the name of our Lord, and with the compelling urge of the Spirit, we went back into the barroom where Peg was singing and shining with light that I had never seen. The derelicts, now the redeemed of the Lord, were singing together as one voice of heaven's choir. They were all being transformed before our very eyes, and so were we! My God, what an evening it was! And it came about because of obedience. With absolute assurance and holy meekness--we went into a place where Christians won't go."
With that testimony, the foundation of a story which seemed to be so real vanished into thin air. The lie became a bottomless pit. Although the pastor did not know he had related something that was not quite true. It was a lie, if you please, and it seemingly had a firm foundation until the light of truth shined upon it. Although it was not true, people believed it to be so, and in believing it, they gave it substance in their minds. However, even when the lie was being believed, first by the pastor, then by the elders, and afterwards the rest of the church, the true foundation was standing firm. The truth, the substance, the foundation of people's lives being transformed by the word and presence of our Lord could not be negated by the lie. Only in people's minds was it real, seemingly. The truth could be covered for a season; but the lie could not destroy it. The lie that seemed so strong and so real was completely destroyed by the simple truth. The truth is a good foundation to build upon, while there is no stability with a lie.
By the way of disclaimer, I must confess the above story never happened. It was fabricated to make my point. There is, no doubt, a George somewhere in a Midwestern town who may be married to a woman named Peggy; but if so, I am not aware of it. Therefore, if such a couple exists, it is merely coincidental. Moreover, the inception of the story began several years ago in Duncan, AZ when my friend, Preston Eby, used me as an example of a man like George to express how lies have no foundation.
Now, the question: Did I lie against the truth by telling the story as though it were the truth? I don't think so; for what I wrote does not gender envy, bitterness, strife, or any of the fruits of the flesh. It does, however, shine with light. It encourages, enlightens, instructs, and brings peace to those who read it; for I used it as an analogy. However, I am sure that if I attempted to pass this story off as true, and never had any intention of revealing it for what it is, that would be a lie. I would be using deceit to teach with the hope of making myself look good. Even if no one ever found out about it, I would have no foundation, and it would eventually give way and leave me with nothing to stand on. Even so, such would still not be lying against the truth, as I understand it.
There is no foundation to any lie; but lying against the truth is much more grave. As James said, such brings about bitter envying and strife in your hearts. It comes from a wisdom that descends not from above. It is earthly, sensual, and devilish. It brings about confusion and every evil work, especially hypocrisy. Those are the groundless things which are built from lying against the truth.
But praise God! We do not lie against the truth. We have the truth, and that truth has been, or is being, tried in the crucible of affliction, forming meekness in our souls. It is sound. It firms up things, making everything solid by the pure wisdom from above. Truth and meekness are fierce, yet peaceable, gentle, and easily entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality. Truth is life, it is light. Truth lays a foundation of light, and "...if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:7.
It is good to be cleansed; but cleansing without training would be incomplete. It would be like man as he was in Eden before his fall. We must be trained. We must become meek lions and wolves in God's holy mountain. It is then that the ravening wolf in us, and the conquering lion of self-rule will eat and lay down together with the gentle lamb, which is easily entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. The meek lion and wolf, of course, are always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time. They have every instinct, and impulse, and passion of self-gratification under control. It is then that the subtle nature of the serpent will be as a child. It will no longer have the lying guile of deceit. Being made meek will insure that there will be no hurt in all of God's Holy Mountain. His Kingdom will be full of meek wolves and lions. It will be free from all things carnal. (ref. Isaiah 65:25, Isaiah11:6-10, Micah 5:8-9).
However, it was not so when the man and woman were first placed in the Garden. They had not been tested, they had not been refined, they had not been trained--they were not meek. They had the power and authority of the lion; but they were not submissive to God. The woman was not God-willed but self-willed. Therefore, when the serpent lied against the Truth, she listened and gave heed to her ravening lust for glory and power. The man followed. The wolf and lion rose up in them, as well as the leopard, and slew the sheepfold of the world. Creation was killed. But praise God! The Lamb of God, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah came together in Jesus. Through suffering He became meek and lowly. We have been joined to Him and are being made, likewise, meek and lowly. It is being worked in us to always be angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time. In this intensive training we are coming to have every instinct and impulse and passion of the wolf and lion under control. Truly, the meek shall inherit the earth, and everything the first Adam destroyed will be restored by the Last. Oh, beloved of the Lord, what a wonder-working power that is found in the meek. Therefore, let us all be Meek Lions And Lie Not Against The Truth!
Hope you've been blessed...
The Pathfinder • PO Box 4004 • Alamogordo NM 88311