How Happy the Mild-Tempered!
“Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”—MATTHEW 5:5.
1. What is the mildness of temper that Jesus spoke of in his Sermon on the Mount?
IN HIS Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) This mildness of temper, or meekness, is not a veneer of hypocritical gentleness, nor is it simply a natural personality trait. Rather, it is genuine inward mildness and peaceableness exercised primarily in response to Jehovah God’s will and guidance. Truly mild-tempered people have a keen sense of dependence on God that is reflected in mild conduct toward fellow humans.—Romans 12:17-19; Titus 3:1, 2.
2. Why did Jesus pronounce the mild-tempered happy?
2 Jesus pronounced the mild-tempered happy because they will inherit the earth. As the perfectly mild-tempered Son of God, Jesus is the Chief Inheritor of the earth. (Psalm 2:8; Matthew 11:29; Hebrews 1:1, 2; 2:5-9) But as the Messianic “son of man,” he was to have associate rulers in his heavenly Kingdom. (Daniel 7:13, 14, 22, 27) As Christ’s “joint heirs,” these anointed mild-tempered ones will share in his inheritance of the earth. (Romans 8:17) Other mild-tempered, sheeplike people will enjoy eternal life in Paradise in the Kingdom’s earthly realm. (Matthew 25:33, 34, 46; Luke 23:43) That prospect makes them happy indeed.
3. God and Christ set what example as to mildness?
3 The mild-tempered Chief Inheritor receives the earth from his Father, Jehovah, the prime example of mildness of temper. How often the Scriptures say that God is “slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness”! (Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15) He has great power but displays such mildness that his worshipers can approach him without dread. (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-22) God’s Son, who was “mild-tempered and lowly in heart,” taught his disciples to be mild. (Matthew 11:29; Luke 6:27-29) In turn, these mild-tempered slaves of God and his Son copied and wrote about “the mildness and kindness of the Christ.”—2 Corinthians 10:1; Romans 1:1; James 1:1, 2; 2 Peter 1:1.
4. (a) According to Colossians 3:12, what has been done by those who are truly mild-tempered? (b) What questions merit our consideration?
4 Today, both anointed Christians and their earthly companions need to be mild-tempered. Having put off any badness, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and backbiting, they have been helped by God’s holy spirit to become new in ‘the force actuating their mind.’ (Ephesians 4:22-24; 1 Peter 2:1, 2) They are urged to clothe themselves with “the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” (Colossians 3:12) But exactly what does mildness encompass? Why is it beneficial to be mild-tempered? And how can this quality contribute to our happiness?
A Closer Look at Mildness
5. How may mildness be defined?
5 A mild-tempered individual is gentle in disposition and behavior. In certain versions of the Bible, it is the adjective pra·ysʹ that is translated “meek,” “mild,” “mild-tempered,” and “gentle.” In classical Greek, the adjective pra·ysʹ can apply to a gentle breeze or voice. It can also denote someone who is gracious. Scholar W. E. Vine says: “The exercises of [the noun pra·yʹtes] are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word tapeinophrosunē [humility].”
6. Why can it be said that mildness is not weakness?
6 Mildness is not weakness. “There is gentleness in praus,” wrote scholar William Barclay, “but behind the gentleness there is the strength of steel.” It takes strength to be mild-tempered. For instance, strength is needed to be mild under provocation or when we are persecuted. God’s mild-tempered Son, Jesus Christ, set a fine example in this regard. “When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one [Jehovah God] who judges righteously.” (1 Peter 2:23) Like mild-tempered Jesus, we can be confident that God will deal with our revilers and persecutors. (1 Corinthians 4:12, 13) We can be tranquil, as persecuted Stephen was, realizing that if we are faithful, Jehovah will sustain us and let nothing do us permanent harm.—Psalm 145:14; Acts 6:15; Philippians 4:6, 7, 13.
7. What does Proverbs 25:28 indicate about an individual lacking mildness?
7 Jesus was mild-tempered, yet he displayed strength in standing firm for what is right. (Matthew 21:5; 23:13-39) Anyone having “the mind of Christ” will be like him in this respect. (1 Corinthians 2:16) If a person is not mild, he is not Christlike. Rather, he fits these words: “As a city broken through, without a wall, is the man that has no restraint for his spirit.” (Proverbs 25:28) Such an individual lacking mildness is vulnerable to the invasion of wrong thoughts that could cause him to act in improper ways. While a mild-tempered Christian is not a weakling, still he knows that “an answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.”—Proverbs 15:1.
8. Why is it not easy to be mild-tempered?
8 It is not easy to be mild-tempered, for we have inherited imperfection and sin. (Romans 5:12) If we are Jehovah’s servants, we also have a fight against wicked spirit forces that may test our mildness by persecution. (Ephesians 6:12) And most of us work among those who have the harsh spirit of the world that is under the Devil’s control. (1 John 5:19) So how can we develop mildness?
How to Develop Mildness
9. What viewpoint will help us to develop mildness?
9 Bible-based conviction that we are required to display mildness will help us to develop this quality. Day by day we must work to cultivate mildness. Otherwise, we will be like people who view mildness as weakness and think that success results from being arrogant, tough, even cruel. However, God’s Word condemns pride, and a wise proverb says: “A man of loving-kindness is dealing rewardingly with his own soul, but the cruel person is bringing ostracism upon his own organism.” (Proverbs 11:17; 16:18) People stay away from a harsh, unkind person, even if they do so mainly to avoid being hurt by his cruelty and lack of mildness.
10. If we are to be mild-tempered, to what must we submit?
10 To be mild-tempered, we must submit to the influence of God’s holy spirit, or active force. As Jehovah made it possible for the earth to produce crops, so he enables his servants to bring forth the fruits of his spirit, including mildness. Paul wrote: “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) Yes, mildness is one of the fruits of God’s spirit displayed by those who please him. (Psalm 51:9, 10) And what changes mildness produces! To illustrate: There was a ruffian named Tony who fought, robbed people, smuggled narcotics, led a motorcycle gang, and spent time in prison. Yet, by acquiring knowledge of the Bible and with the help of God’s spirit, he changed into a mild-mannered servant of Jehovah. Tony’s story is typical. What, then, can a person do if a lack of mildness has been a dominant feature of his personality?
11. In developing mildness, what role does prayer play?
11 Heartfelt prayer for God’s spirit and for its fruit of mildness will help us to cultivate this quality. We may need to “keep on asking,” as Jesus said, and Jehovah God will grant our request. After showing that human fathers give their children good things, Jesus said: “If you, although being [sinful and thus comparatively] wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:9-13) Prayer can help to make mildness a permanent feature of our temperament—a quality contributing to our happiness and that of our associates.
12. Why can keeping in mind that humans are imperfect help us to be mild-tempered?
12 Keeping in mind that humans are imperfect can help us to be mild-tempered. (Psalm 51:5) We cannot think or act perfectly, any more than other people can, so we should surely have empathy and treat them as we would like to be treated. (Matthew 7:12) Being aware that all of us make mistakes should cause us to be forgiving and mild-tempered in dealing with others. (Matthew 6:12-15; 18:21, 22) After all, are we not thankful that God displays love and mildness toward us?—Psalm 103:10-14.
13. How can we be helped to cultivate mildness if we acknowledge that God has made humans free moral agents?
13 Acknowledging that God has made humans free moral agents can also help us to cultivate mildness. This does not permit anyone to ignore Jehovah’s laws with impunity, but it does allow for variety in tastes, likes, and dislikes among his people. So let us acknowledge that no one is obligated to fit into the mold we may consider best. This spirit will help us to be mild-tempered.
14. As to mildness, what should be our determination?
14 Determination not to abandon mildness will help us to keep on cultivating this quality. Submitting to the influence of Jehovah’s spirit brought about a transformation in our thinking. (Romans 12:2) A mild, Christlike spirit now helps to restrain us from engaging in “deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.” We must never abandon mildness for financial, social, or other reasons or because people make abusive remarks about our godliness. (1 Peter 4:3-5) We must let nothing make us engage in “the works of the flesh,” so that we lose our mildness and fail to inherit God’s Kingdom or enjoy its blessings. (Galatians 5:19-21) Let us always cherish the privilege of being God’s mild-tempered ones, whether anointed to heavenly life or having an earthly hope. To that end, let us consider some benefits of mildness.
Benefits of Mildness
15. According to Proverbs 14:30, why is it wise to be mild?
15 A mild person has calmness of heart, mind, and body. This is so because he does not engage in strife, get upset over others’ actions, or torment himself with unrelenting anxiety. Mildness helps him keep his emotions in check, and this is beneficial mentally and physically. A proverb says: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.” (Proverbs 14:30) Lack of mildness may lead to anger that can raise blood pressure or cause digestive troubles, asthma, eye afflictions, and other problems. A mild-tempered Christian enjoys various benefits, including “the peace of God” that guards his heart and mental powers. (Philippians 4:6, 7) How wise it is to be mild-tempered!
16-18. What effect does mildness have on our relationship with others?
16 The quality of mildness improves our relationship with others. Perhaps we once had the habit of pressing matters until we got our way. People may have become angry with us because we lacked humility and mildness. Under such circumstances, it should not have surprised us if we became embroiled in one controversy after another. However, a proverb says: “Where there is no wood the fire goes out, and where there is no slanderer contention grows still. As charcoal for the embers and wood for the fire, so is a contentious man for causing a quarrel to glow.” (Proverbs 26:20, 21) If we are mild-tempered, instead of ‘adding wood to the fire’ and provoking others, we will have a good relationship with them.
17 A mild-tempered person is likely to have good friends. People enjoy associating with him because he has a positive attitude, and his words are refreshing and sweet as honey. (Proverbs 16:24) That was true of Jesus, who could say: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matthew 11:29, 30) Jesus was not harsh, and his yoke was not oppressive. Those coming to him were treated well and refreshed spiritually. The situation is similar when we associate with a mild-tempered Christian friend.
18 Mildness endears us to fellow believers. Undoubtedly, most Christians in Corinth were drawn to Paul because he entreated them “by the mildness and kindness of the Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:1) The Thessalonians surely must have responded to the apostle, since he was a mild, gentle teacher. (1 Thessalonians 2:5-8) There is no question that the Ephesian elders had learned much from Paul and loved him dearly. (Acts 20:20, 21, 37, 38) Do you display mildness that endears you to others?
19. How does mildness help Jehovah’s people to keep their place in his organization?
19 A mild temper helps Jehovah’s people to be submissive and to keep their place in his organization. (Philippians 2:5-8, 12-14; Hebrews 13:17) Mildness restrains us from seeking glory, which is based on pride and is offensive to God. (Proverbs 16:5) A mild person does not consider himself superior to fellow believers, and he does not try to excel at their expense. (Matthew 23:11, 12) Instead, he acknowledges his sinful state and his need for God’s ransom provision.
Mildness Promotes Happiness
20. What effect does mildness have on family life?
20 All of God’s servants should remember that mildness is a fruit of his spirit that promotes happiness. For instance, because Jehovah’s people display such qualities as love and mildness, happy homes abound among them. When husband and wife deal with each other in a mild way, their children are reared in a calm environment, not in a family given to harsh words and actions. As a father gives his children counsel in mildness, this has a good effect on their young minds, and a mild spirit is likely to become part of their personality. (Ephesians 6:1-4) A mild temper helps husbands to keep on loving their wives. It assists wives to be in subjection to their husbands and moves children to obey their parents. Mildness also causes family members to have a forgiving spirit that contributes to happiness.—Colossians 3:13, 18-21.
21. In essence, what counsel did the apostle Paul give at Ephesians 4:1-3?
21 Mild-tempered families and individuals promote happiness in congregations with which they are associated. Therefore, Jehovah’s people need to make earnest effort to be mild-tempered. Are you doing so? The apostle Paul entreated fellow anointed Christians to walk worthily of their heavenly calling, doing so “with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) Christians with an earthly hope must also display mildness and other godly qualities. This is the course that brings true happiness. Happy indeed are the mild-tempered!
How Would You Answer?
□ Why are mild-tempered people happy?
□ What does it mean to be mild-tempered?
□ How can mildness be developed?
□ What are some benefits of mildness?