I recently finished reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. This was my first Tozer book to read, and I really enjoyed. He and C.S. Lewis, especially, explain even complicated ideas in such a way that I often feel like there are light bulbs going off in my head, while simultaneously thinking Why didn’t I think of this before?!
My favorite chapter in The Pursuit of God is “Meekness and Rest,” mainly because it explains so simply an idea I’ve been pondering on for a while now. It is from this chapter that I wish to share today’s “wise words.”
Many women know the verse from 1 Peter about having a “gentle and quiet spirit”:
“Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair and the putting on of jewelry, or the clothing you wear–but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” -1 Peter 3:3-4
In summary, this verse commands women not to focus on beautifying the external, which will fade, but on building up the beauty of the internal spirit, which is eternal. Yes, I understand this idea. What I often struggle with is this–What exactly does it mean to have a gentle and quiet spirit?
I have read several posts by different bloggers about what this concept means. Most of the time, the authors of these posts are self-proclaimed extroverts who make the point that having a “gentle and quiet spirit” does not mean you have to be a quiet person–some reassurance for people who are naturally outgoing. I, on the other hand, am not typically an outgoing person. Far from it. But I do agree with these bloggers. I am a quiet PERSON, but I often ask myself if I have a gentle and quiet SPIRIT?
I think part of this means asking if I have a spirit that is trusting God, which brings peace and stillness. But there is another aspect, I think. Another place the word gentle is used is in Matthew 11:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:28-29
There is that word again–and in one of my favorite verses, too. This verse shows that Jesus was gentle and lowly and that these attributes bring rest. I’ve been wondering for a while how this could be. What does being gentle and lowly (i.e. meek) have to do with rest? This is where Tozer steps in, bringing from me an enthusiastic “Ah-ha!” I hope it will do the same for you!
First, the short quote:
“To men and women everywhere Jesus says, ‘Come unto me, and I will give you rest.’ The rest He offers is the rest of meekness, the blessed relief which comes when we accept ourselves for what we are and cease to pretend” (Tozer 2006, 109).
And now the longer explanation, which makes me smile:
“Jesus calls us to rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. He develops toward himself a kindly sense of humor and learns to say, ‘Oh, so you have been overlooked? They have placed someone else before you? They have whispered that you are pretty small stuff after all? And now you feel hurt because the world is saying about you the very things you have been saying about yourself? Only yesterday you were telling God that you were nothing, a mere worm of the dust. Where is your consistency? Come on, humble yourself and cease to care what men think.’
“The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring” (Tozer 2006, 106-107).
This is FOR SURE something I needed to read. I’ll often think that God is the only one whose opinion truly matters. He has the only correct view of me, and he is the one who determines my value. But then I do something embarrassing or accidentally reveal some of the foolishness that I try so hard to conceal. At that point, what others think of me is at the forefront of my mind, and it usually takes a bit of time before I return to correct thinking. But wouldn’t it be so much more restful if I could continually hold onto that gentle, quiet, and lowly spirit? Having a correct view of myself and not being so worried about what others will think when I mess up? Of course I’ll mess up! I’m human! But God has loved me any way–if only I would continually rest in God’s love alone and not try to stand on what I think I can accomplish. It’s definitely something I need to work on, but I hope to grow into a more gentle and quiet spirit as the days progress.
I hope these wise words from Tozer have been a blessing to you because they certainly have been to me!
Thanks for reading!
Tozer, A.W. 2006. The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine. Camp Hill, Pennsylvania : Wing Spread Publishers.