Adopted from Jeremiah Burroughs’ The Saints’ Happiness (1660), “Rules and Helps to Christian Meeknesse”
Meekness is a rare quality, sadly even in professing Christians. It is a supernatural quality, being a gift of the Spirit. But the Spirit would also have use work through means. There are ways of living which are more conducive to godliness. Jeremiah Burroughs gives us 15 means which will help us to become and remain meek:
First, learn to prize the sweetness of a quiet spirit. If you are in a meek frame, you are not merely restraining some contrary impulse, you are not just holding down your anger. To be meek is to be in a peaceful frame despite tempting circumstances. When temptation comes, think of the temptation: this will cause me to lose the sweetness and contentment of heart which I would have if I were to flee this temptation.
Second, covenant with God in the power of Christ to exercise meekness and quietness. You may need to renew this covenant every day, or every morning — you may need to renew this covenant every three hours. Yes, merely determining to give up the sinful passion for a short time will not destroy the sin completely, but it will have the effect of dampening the fire of the sinful passion. “O, if you could be overcome yourselves for a day, you fins so much good, as it would exceedingly help you against another day.”
Third, you must also have repentance and “humiliation” for the days before when you did sin. “Go get alone and apply the salt tears of humiliation onto that [sickness of sin] and see what this will do: humiliation for [sin] that’s past will be a special help for time to come.”
Fourth, watch your heart, take heed of your passions. When you see your heart beginning to stir into a passion, check yourself. A fire is easier to extinguish when it is small than when it gets going. “Look upon passion as if it were poison, and take some remedy immediately: don’t let the poison to continue to work in your heart.”
This applies also between people. Think how often one evil word leads to another evil word. And if it does not immediately break out into open conflict, it may fester as suspicion and dislike. Don’t let this happen. Stop sin as soon as it is seen.
Fifth: we become angry because we want something and don’t get it. Be realistic: you are going to be disappointed in this world. Stop pretending that the world about you will also bring you what you want. If you would merely begin with the realization that you will be disappointed, you not be so surprised and angry when you circumstances or others fall short (and you will fall short for others, too).
Sixth, consider your frailty: you will disappoint others. So, when someone disappoints you, stop and consider, I will do the same myself and very soon. Galatians 6 explains that we have the duty to be about bearing one-another’s burdens. We need to bear up with the weakness of each other.
It is the sinfully proud person who thinks that everyone must please them and they are excused from pleasing anyone.
Seventh, work hard to keep your heart at peace with God.
Eighth, never do anything in anger: especially don’t “confront’ someone in anger. Think of it, a doctor would never pour scalding hot medicine down someone’s throat. When you are in conflict, “keep your passion down and call in the grace of meekness”.
Ninth, when you realize what your passions are heading in a sinful direction stop and redirect your passions. You do not need be controlled by a sudden passion. This is the excellency of a Christian: we do not need to be controlled by our affections, but our affections can be changed.
Tenth, do not multiply words. Be careful to stop speaking so as to avoid provoking another.
Eleventh, mind your own business. If you are diligent in the things God has given you, you won’t have time to be upset about things that are none of your business.
Twelfth, you don’t need to be constantly spying out faults and complaints with others: don’t notice every fault of a co-worker, or a child, or a spouse. “You must see and not see, if you will be of a meek spirit.”
Thirteenth, realize that the Devil labors to get you up into a passion, because then you are easier to tempt to some sin.
Fourteenth, keep the examples of other people of God who demonstrated meekness in trials: don’t be like Cain who killed his brother in anger. Be like Moses who patiently bore attack. Be like Jesus, who is the perfect example of meekness.
Fifteenth, be ready for the next temptation.