Elder David A. Bednar focused his remarks during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference on "a vital aspect of the Savior's divine nature that each of us should strive to emulate."
Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited listeners on March 31 to notice the characteristic the Lord uses to describe Himself in Matthew 11:29. "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."
The Savior, Elder Bednar said, chose to emphasize meekness above all the attributes He potentially could have selected.
To highlight this Christlike attribute, Elder Bednar presented several examples, beginning with the rich young man who "went away sorrowing" after the Savior instructed him to "sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me," (Matthew 19:16, 21-22).
In contrast, Amulek from the Book of Mormon obeyed the voice of an angel, received the prophet Alma in his home and answered the call to preach the gospel. Amulek then forsook "all his gold and silver, and his precious things … for the word of God, [and was] rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred," (Alma 15:16).
"What do you think explains the difference between the responses of the rich young man and Amulek?" Elder Bednar asked.
During a period of war described in the Book of Mormon, Moroni, the captain of the Nephite armies, writes to Pahoran, the chief judge, "by the way of condemnation." Pahoran easily might have resented Moroni's inaccurate allegations, but instead responds, "In your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart" (Alma 61:2, 9).
"What do you think explains Pahoran's measured reply to Moroni's accusations?" Elder Bednar asked.
In general conference six months ago, both President Russell M. Nelson and President Henry B. Eyring described their response to President Thomas S. Monson's invitation to study, ponder and apply the truths contained in the Book of Mormon.
"What do you think explains the immediate and heartfelt responses to President Monson's invitation by these two leaders of the Lord's Church?" Elder Bednar asked.
Meekness — which is "distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness and strong self-restraint" — "helps us to understand more completely the respective reactions of Amulek, Pahoran, President Nelson, and President Eyring."
For example, although President Nelson and President Eyring were serving in important and visible Church positions and had studied the scriptures extensively for decades, "they demonstrated in their responses no hesitation or sense of self-importance.
"Amulek willingly submitted to God's will, accepted a call to preach the gospel, and left behind his comfortable circumstances and familiar relationships. And Pahoran was blessed with perspective and strong self-restraint to act rather than react as he explained to Moroni the challenges arising from a rebellion against the government," Elder Bednar said.
This quality is often misunderstood by the world. "Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash," Elder Bednar said. "A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious, or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others."
A distinguishing characteristic of meekness is a spiritual receptivity to learning from the Holy Ghost and from people who may seem less capable, experienced, or educated, Elder Bednar said. "Meekness is the principal protection from the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth, and adulation."
Meekness is both an attribute developed through the exercise of moral agency and a spiritual gift "for which we appropriately can seek," Elder Bednar said. "Meek is what we become as disciples of the Master and not just something we do."
The most "majestic and meaningful examples" of meekness are found in the life of the Savior, Elder Bednar said. The Great Redeemer who suffered, bled and died "to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," (1 John 1:9), tenderly washed the dusty feet of His disciples.
Jesus suffered intense agony in Gethsemane and yet prayed "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:40-42).
"The Savior's meekness in this eternally essential and excruciating experience demonstrates for each of us the importance of putting the wisdom of God above our own wisdom," he said.
Although Jesus could have asked the Father to "give me more than twelve legions of angels" (Matthew 26:53), "the 'Eternal Judge of both quick and dead' (Moroni 10:34) paradoxically was judged before a temporary political appointee. … The Savior's meekness is evidenced in His disciplined response, strong restraint, and unwillingness to exert His infinite power for personal benefit."
"Meekness is an essential aspect of the divine nature and can be received and developed in our lives because of and through the Savior's Atonement," Elder Bednar said and promised listeners that "He will guide, protect and strengthen us as we walk in the meekness of His spirit."