The Blessing of a “Quiet and Mild Spirit”
TODAY there is so much noise that men speak of the harm resulting from “noise pollution.” Reports tell that in the United States the volume of noise is doubling every ten years and that if this keeps up it will not be many decades before noise reaches a lethal, a deadly, stage. This noise is not only harming people’s hearing but even causing ulcers, hives, and suchlike ills.
Individually we might not be able to do much about the noise made by airplanes, by street traffic or by the machines near where we happen to work. But we can give thought to the amount of noise that we ourselves might be making unnecessarily. Especially can we be on guard against talking too loudly and too much.
In this regard the apostle Peter gave good advice to womenfolk. After telling them not to be unduly concerned about their outward appearance, he tells them what will make them truly desirable, namely, “the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Pet. 3:4.
A quiet and mild spirit is of great value to Jehovah God and it is also appreciated by husbands. But quite thoughtlessly many persons do not consider just what a blessing quietness can be. They feel that they have to be talking all the time. And often those who feel they have to be talking all the time also talk loudly. It might be said to be a vicious circle: Because of a nervous temperament these loud talkers keep talking all the time; this, in turn, uses up much nervous energy, making their voices of themselves sound strained and unpleasant to the ear!
It would be quite a revelation for such persons to hear their voices on a tape recorder. It is said that we sound better to our own ears when we are talking than when we listen to our recorded voices, and most persons are surprised when they hear their recorded voices for the first time. Why is that? Because the vibration of the bones of our skulls gives us the impression that our voices have more resonance than they actually have, the vibrations reaching our own ears both from inside and outside. Those with loud and harsh voices might well be embarrassed when first hearing their voices on tape. With a little effort these can learn to talk softer and add more resonance to their voices, making them more pleasant for others to listen to.
What the apostle Peter says about cultivating a quiet and mild spirit is good advice for all in the family. On coming home from the noisy outside world, what a blessing it is for the husband to be met by a wife who manifests this quiet and mild spirit! And how refreshing to the wife to be with her husband if he is, not harsh, but mild-tempered! You children can also contribute to making the home a quiet and restful place. You can be joyful without being unduly noisy and boisterous when you play. You can talk to each other without yelling at the top of your voices. You can learn to enjoy sane, soothing, beautiful music instead of wanting loud rock ’n’ roll music.
Closely related to the quiet spirit is the mild spirit, as the apostle Peter intimates by linking them together. Being mild means being calm, gentle, soothing, not harsh, not irritating. Mildness, the Bible shows, is one of the fruits of God’s spirit and time and again Christians are counseled to manifest it.—Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 6:11; Titus 3:2.
But do not think that this mildness or meekness means weakness. Not at all! Moses was ‘the meekest man in all the earth’ in his day but he was by no means a weakling. (Num. 12:3) As Greek scholar William Barclay shows, praoʹtes, the Greek word translated “mildness” or “meekness,” does not mean weakness but strength that is controlled. In ancient Greece, a wild horse that had been tamed was said to be mild, meek.
Our feelings may be hurt because of misunderstanding, injustice or because another addresses us with harsh, irritating language. How shall we respond? By loud, harsh, irritating words? That would only make matters worse. The Bible tells us how to respond: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage.” (Prov. 15:1) In other words, mild speech is like ‘pouring oil upon troubled waters.’ To respond with loud and harsh speech is to return evil for evil, whereas Christians are expressly commanded: “Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.”—Rom. 12:21.
The quiet and mild spirit makes a person a joy to be around. It makes him a blessing to others. It helps to make for smooth and loving relations with one’s neighbors. And it is also a blessing to oneself. Here also the principle applies: “One who waters will himself be watered.” That is, a quiet and mild spirit makes for our own well-being even as it does that for others. By being mild and quiet ourselves we are less likely to get upset and agitated when others fail to be that way. It helps us keep our emotions on an even keel, bringing benefits mentally and physically.—Prov. 11:25, RS.
This “quiet and mild spirit” is a special blessing in the preaching activity of Christian ministers. It gives a modest mien to the Christian minister and so makes others more willing to hear. That mildness can indeed turn away rage was illustrated by the experience a Canadian Witness once had. At a door a woman kept abusing her in a shouting rage. After a while the Witness mildly wished the woman good-day and left. But this woman, after thinking it over for two days, wrote the Watch Tower Society apologizing for her conduct. It was arranged to have someone call on her, and it so happened to be the Witness who had called in the first place. The call resulted in a Bible study’s being started.
Truly a “quiet and mild spirit” is a blessing. Those possessing it are a pleasure to have around. It makes ministers more effective in their ministry and is a blessing to themselves.