As Meek as a Lamb

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

Another way that we can follow in the footsteps of Christ is to learn the art of humility by subjecting our tongues to His control. In other words, we shouldn’t go running our mouths every time we feel the sting of the divine switch. We should not mumble, grumble, murmur, complain, whine, or pout about our trials. God hates that behavior. Whining about how hard we have it, reflects that we do not truly trust God. It tells the world that God is not trustworthy. Constant complaining communicates that we think God is a lousy parent. It is a way that we pass judgment on His parenting techniques and criticize His disciplinary decisions. So we should not mope around and try to make everyone near us miserable when the Lord has us in the middle of a sanctifying trial. Philippians 2:14 commands that we must “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”

James tells us that the “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). It is not a small thing in the sight of God to whine, grumble, mumble, murmur, complain, pout, manipulate or to throw temper-tantrums. God equates murmuring against His appointed leadership and mumbling about the lives that the Lord has allotted to us with despising Him.  In response these types of behaviors the Lord says, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them,” and again, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against Me” (Numbers 14: 11, 27).

Note also the judgments of God in the sixteenth chapter of Numbers; when He deals with the rebellious man Korah. Korah led a rebellion of whiney, complaining, ingrates who refused to submit to God’s ordained leadership for their lives. The Scripture tells us that in response to Korah’s uprising, “…fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the incense…” (v.35). God was so angry with these men that He told Moses and Aaron “Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” (v.45). At the end of Numbers 16, we read that, “…those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah” (49). These incidences from Scripture serve as good examples for the Believer. They teach us that when trials are making us feel grumpy, we are better off not saying anything at all, then grumbling against the Lord about how hard the lives which He has given us are.

We should especially be careful not to gossip, slander, or malign the people that God is using to sanctify us. Those actions are wrong, and they miss the whole “Sovereignty of God” thing. Furthermore, these acts grieve the Holy Spirit of God, who is so patient to dwell with us and comfort us in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4: 31-32; 1 Timothy 5:13-15). Instead, when God is sanctifying us with mean spirited people we should be like Jesus who “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23)

Really, the big problem with a big mouth is a bad heart. Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person… … what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:11, 18-19). Incessant complaining and chronic whining just reveals a very self-centered, self-absorbed, overly inflated ego. That is not good. It is best to discipline our-selves to stop using our tongues to vent, rage, and manipulate. This is not a prohibition to vocalization; but a suggestion to choose silent communion with God in the sorrow of the cross over boisterous fraternization with the world.

When we stop ‘venting’ with our girl-friends about life’s many (and-even sometimes-legitimate) injustices, we put ourselves in the position to learn how to pray. Prayer is the appropriate place for complaining, crying out in distress, frustrated tears, and all of the other loud, tearful words of the chastened child of God.  The Psalmists teach us this truth repeatedly. They wrote, “In my distress I called to the Lord…” and, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!  O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!” In another place, we read, “With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him” (Psalm 120:1; 130:1-2a142:2). In looking to Jesus we see this truth at work in His life. Hebrews 5:7 tells us that, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”

When Jesus was on the earth He offered up prayers (Note: Jesus offered up more than one prayer when He was on earth). This word ‘prayers’ refers to praying for a specific, felt need. It is a heart-felt petition, arising out of a deep personal need- some sense of lack or want. It likewise implies a felt need that is personal and urgent

The Scripture tells us that Jesus also offered up supplications. The word ‘supplications’ teach us an amazing truth about Jesus’ prayer life. Supplications in Hebrews 5:7 refers to an ancient custom, in which a suppliant (one who makes supplications) would take an olive branch in his hand as a token that He was ‘seeking peace’ from a superior. Therefore the term ‘supplications’ refers to the types of prayer and requests that are acts of humility and the recognition of one’s inferiority. The fact that Jesus prayed in this way, even though He is God, reveals the depth of His deep humility and reverence for God.

Jesus humility and reverence for God should cause us to recognize how much greater our need for humility and reverence before God is. These traits in our Lord should cause us to see that we need to allow our difficulties to humble us, and then in our humiliation we should  learn to seek God for deliverance from our trials; not grumble against God in the midst of divine discipline.

Jesus cried His heart out before His Father. He did so with loud cries and tears. This was not considered wrong by God. The Scripture tells us that He was “…He was heard because of his reverence” (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus was in such deep emotional distress (in such great agony) in the Garden of Gethsemane that “…he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). To pray with such deep agony of soul that His sweat became like great drops of blood is nearly incomprehensible, yet this is the example that Christ left us to follow. This is the same Christ who only moments later willfully went to the cross and “…opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” We do well to learn from His example; and we will do even better to follow it. All this to say, when we are under the sanctifying disciplining grace of God, we should trust God and pray for grace to be like a lamb; humble, meek, and mild.

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