In His humanity Christ has the virtue of meekness. To be meek means not to resist the world’s opposition but to suffer it willingly. To have the virtue of meekness means that we do not invade others or fight with them. Instead, we are willing to give in. The meek give in to others, but those who are strong in a natural way fight and refuse to give in. At the least, they want to stand their ground. The meek, however, give in, do not fight, and do not invade others’ territory. The Lord Jesus said of Himself, “I am meek…in heart” (Matt. 11:29). In facing opposition the Lord Jesus was always meek.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:1 speaks of the meekness of Christ. Meekness is a virtue of the humanity of Christ by the divine life. Christ’s meekness is not a simple matter, for it is in His humanity and by the divine life. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He lived a human life by the divine life. Through this mingling of divinity and humanity the virtue of meekness was manifested.
Christ’s meekness is seen in the way He entered Jerusalem as described in Matthew 21:1-11. He was “meek and mounted on a donkey and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” (v. 5). This signifies the meek and lowly state in which the Lord was willing to present Himself. The donkey and the colt together give an impression of meekness. If the Lord had been mounted only on a donkey, the impression of meekness would not have been so striking. The significance of the Lord’s being mounted on a donkey and on a colt is not smallness but meekness. Christ, the heavenly King, did not come with haughty splendor but with gentle, humble meekness. He did not ride into Jerusalem proudly on a horse; He came mounted on a little donkey, even a small colt. No earthly king would do such a thing. The Lord Jesus, however, came to be a meek King. Yes, He was the heavenly King, but He had no intention to come as a great king fighting or competing with others. Instead, He came as a meek King who did not fight against anyone or compete with anyone. This is the meekness of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 10:1 Paul also speaks of the forbearance of Christ, a virtue, like meekness, that is produced by the mingling of divinity and humanity in the Lord Jesus. Hence, forbearance is another virtue of Christ lived in His humanity by the divine life. To have meekness is to not invade others but to give in to them; to have forbearance means that we are willing to be invaded by others and to suffer affliction and injury. Meekness and forbearance are two of the virtues Christ lived in His humanity by the divine life.
The Greek word rendered forbearance in 2 Corinthians 10:1 is composed of two words: epi, a preposition that means unto, and eikos, which means seemly, fitting, or suitable. When the preposition epi is added to other Greek words as a prefix, it often bears the meaning of full or extensive. The use of this preposition as a component of the Greek word for forbearance in 2 Corinthians 10:1 indicates that the meaning of this word is to be fully reasonable, or fitting or suitable to the fullest extent. Christ has a full and extensive reasonableness and considerateness. Furthermore, He always acts in a way that is fitting and suitable to the fullest extent.
The Greek word for forbearance is rendered different ways by different translations. Some versions render the word as yieldingness. The word used in the Chinese version means to give in humbly. These understandings are correct, but they are rather shallow. Other translators point out that the Greek word means reasonable, considerate, suitable, and fitting. A forbearing person is one who always fits in, one whose behavior is always suitable.
The virtue of forbearance is all-inclusive. It includes love, kindness, mercy, peacefulness, mildness, gentleness, reasonableness, the ability to fit in, and many other virtues. If we are reasonable, considerate, and able to fit in, we shall also be gentle, kind, mild, and peaceful. Furthermore, we shall be meek and moderate, full of compassion for others. The opposite of forbearance is being just in an exacting way. A person who lacks forbearance will be exacting and demanding of others. But to be forbearing means that we are easily satisfied, even with less than our due. Alford says that the Greek word for forbearance means not to be strict with respect to legal rights.
The best word to sum up the totality of Christ’s human virtues is forbearance. Besides the Lord Jesus, no human being has ever practiced a life of forbearance. If you study the biographies of famous people, you will see that not one was truly a person of forbearance. However, if you read the four Gospels, you will see that the human living of the Lord Jesus was full of forbearance. In particular, the Lord exercised forbearance with His disciples. Consider, for example, how He spoke to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus as recorded in Luke 24. He drew near, went with them, and said to them, “What are these words which you are exchanging with one another while you are walking?” (v. 17). With a rebuking tone, one of the disciples replied, “Are you a stranger dwelling alone in Jerusalem and do not know the things which took place in it in these days?” (v. 18). Appearing not to know anything, the Lord asked, “What things?” (v. 19). Then they proceeded to tell Him about Jesus of Nazareth, “a Prophet, powerful in work and word before God and all the people” (v. 19) and who was crucified. How forbearing the Lord Jesus was to listen to the disciples speak things that He knew much better than they did! After walking quite a distance, “they drew near to the village where they were going, and He acted as though He would go farther. And they urged Him, saying, Stay with us, because it is toward evening and the day is already nearly over. And He went in to stay with them” (vv. 28-29), even sitting down to dine with them. When He took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, “their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him” (vv. 30-31). In this we surely see Christ’s forbearance. He has the growth in life, the satisfaction in life, and the contentment of life required to have the virtue of forbearance. Therefore, wherever He was He was full of forbearance and He could exercise His forbearance toward all.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 050-062), Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)