This is something I wrote for our ladies’ ministry booklet for this month, and I thought I’d share it here:
I Peter 3: 3-4 tells us that “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit…is in the sight of God of great price,” and it is to be more of what we focus on adorning ourselves with than outward ornamentations of jewelry, nice clothes, etc.
I think we have some idea of what meekness is: we’ve all heard the definition of “strength under control,” the illustration of a tamed horse. Meekness isn’t “wimpiness” or a lack of spirit. It is perfectly illustrated by Christ, who was “meek and lowly in heart.”
But I want to focus today on a quiet spirit. Does that mean a quiet person, an introvert? No, I think God created many different kinds of personalities to minister to many different kinds of people. There are certainly times to be quiet of mouth or to rein in an exuberant spirit, but I don’t think that is primarily what this is talking about. Some segments of Christendom have developed this idea into almost mysticism, but I don’t think that’s what the word “quietness” means, either.
Checking some of the Greek words translated “quiet” reveals synonyms like “peaceful, tranquil, restful, undisturbed.”
Why would we need instruction to have a tranquil, undisturbed spirit? Because we can get so easily disquieted in spirit. The Hebrew word for that has a much longer definition: “to murmur, growl, roar, cry aloud, mourn, rage, sound, make noise, tumult, turbulent, be clamorous, be disquieted, be loud, be moved, be troubled, be in an uproar, be in a stir, in a commotion, boisterous, clamorous.” That covers a lot of territory. Ever felt any of that? I sure have. There are numerous examples in Scripture, from the discouraged Psalmist in Psalm 42 to the clamorous foolish woman in Proverbs 9:13 to the contentious and angry woman in Proverbs 21:19 (the wilderness was preferred above dwelling with her) to the “devout and honorable women” who were nonetheless “stirred up” to persecute and expel Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:50.
Obviously, being disquieted in spirit can not only put us in a bad mood, it can negatively effect those in our lives, especially those whom God gave us to minister to.
So how do we cultivate a quiet spirit? I’m still working on it myself, and whole books have been written on the subject, but meditating on these and similar verses helps.
Psalm 131:2: “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child” (when something beloved and comforting is taken away).
Psalm 1:33: “But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Listening to God and His wisdom can quiet us from fear of evil.)
Proverbs 17:1: “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.”
Ecclesiastes 4:6: “Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”
Isaiah 30:15 is one of my all-time favorite verses: “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength,” and sadly, the verse goes on to say, “and ye would not.” In whatever situation disquiets us, we need to rest in the Lord, confident that He has everything under control and has reasons for what He is allowing. To me that’s the essence of a quiet spirit — one that is resting in the Lord.
Isaiah 32:17: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”
Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 65:7: “Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.”
Matthew 11:28-29: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Peter begins the passage about having a meek and quiet spirit with the word ”likewise.” The verses he is referring back to there are at the end of I Peter 2 dealing with how Christ suffered at the hands of others without guile, without reviling. In the midst of pain and mistreatment by those whom He loved, He “committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier