Believe 29 ~ Gentleness
June 7, 2015
Fragile: Handle with Care – How often have these words been put on a shipment to protect the package. When we moved here, the movers told us if our dishes broke they were not responsible because they didn’t pack them. Have you ever packed something, shipped something and put on that great FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE label?
Even when we carelessly put together a package, we still expect it to arrive unbroken. We not only do that with packages, but we also do that with many aspects of life. We usually don’t handle life with care.
We can say things which are very upsetting. In fact, do you know any people who are very draining? They’re the kind who say things that set you on edge and you’re convinced they enjoy doing it? They say things as if they are looking for a fight. They come into your home and ask, “Where did you find that wallpaper?” And it’s obvious they’re not asking because they like it.
Do you have a bunch of Ralph Kramden’s in your life. People who are loud and obnoxious and usually wrong, but like to be right. People who easily blow up?
They come right out and ask, “Ooh, how much weight have you gained?” Or they tell us we look really tired today. They tell us our outfit doesn’t really go. Or they question everything, even when there’s nothing to question.
They’re all around us! Our temperament, our personality, our reactions in dealing with these people, in dealing with issues when life has become really fragile often times is an indicator of how we are doing on today’s topic.
We are on week 29, one more week to go in our Believe series. And today we are looking at the fruit of the Spirit called GENTLENESS!!
In Galatians 5, Paul told us 22 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
As we are moving towards being more like Jesus, I hope you understand this is not about“trying harder.” It’s not about trying to be more patient, trying to be more gentle, trying to be more loving. Not that this is all bad, but this means you’re doing this on your own power.
I’m hoping you will allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in you, changing and making you into the kind of person God wants you to be. And when that happens, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in your life.
So, as we look at gentleness, let’s first look at what it means. Because, like most words we’ve looked at – there’s more to gentleness.
There are 2 words for gentleness. In our key verse, Paul instructed the Philippians to be gentle. The word for “gentleness” in this passage is a word used to express a balanced, intelligent, decent outlook on life. It is also being “gentle” in the sense of being fair by relaxing overly strict standards in order to keep the “spirit of the law.” We know people who if it suits their purposes will use the law to get what they want, when everyone else knows the “spirit of the law” is what’s best.
In this sense the gentle person would know what the real intent of the law is, and would follow that. It’s the person who builds on the real intent of what’s at stake in the decisions being made. So, that person seeks to fulfill the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law.
That’s a bit different view of gentleness. It’s one we might like to aspire to. It’s great when people can look at us and say we always seek to make fair and equitable decisions in all situations. That’s the first word for gentleness.
In the many other passages, such as in the Fruit of the Spirit — the word gentleness can also mean meekness or gentle strength. We have been trained to think that meekness is the same as weakness, but that is not even close to correct.
Meekness is strength under control. It’s someone who is tremendously strong, but holds that strength in reserve and uses it only when needed. Picture a person who is really angry about something and has the ability and maybe even the justification to demonstrate their anger, but they choose not to let it explode. Instead, they practice gentleness. And handle the situation differently.
Most words in Greek were word pictures. So, when you heard the word, there was also a picture in mind. This word brought up 2 word pictures . . .
One is a tamed animal. Think about a strong horse that weighs about 1000 pounds. It has great strength, and yet, once it’s tamed, great things can happen. It can pull a plow through a field and help bring about a harvest. A saddle can be put on it and a child can ride it. “Gentleness” is strength under control.
The other word picture comes from medicine. “Gentle” medicine is medicine that is easy on the stomach. It won’t upset your stomach. Some medicine we take upsets our stomachs. And we’re told to take some medicine with food so that we do not get sick. “Gentleness” is not only good for you but it is good for the other person.
So, we can also picture that gentleness is a person who is easy on your stomach. When we think of people who are not gentle, what happens to our stomachs when we hear they want to speak to us. Immediately your stomach begins to knot up.
Because, that’s a person who is not easy on your stomach. Whether or not they speak the truth to you. BUT – – – the way they do it, is not gentle. They are a person you seek to avoid because even though they might have good intentions, the way they go about it is rough on your stomach.
A gentle person is not necessarily one who tells you what you want to hear – but they find a way to do it — that is mild on your stomach. You look forward to meeting with them, you trust them, and you know they have your good intentions at heart and they will be gentle in their handling with you.
Often times a person who lacks gentleness, particularly with the way in which they treat people, doesn’t recognize it or see it in themselves. Part of the issue is the fact that they have not been confronted in a gentle way to help them understand the damage they are doing to others. So, for many people their lack of gentleness is not a result of being mean spirited, it’s because they don’t know anything different.
And, so, I think the big ah-ha for a person who lacks gentleness is that they probably don’t know it, and the people in their life aren’t going to tell them because the people in their life are afraid of them. I mean, who wants to confront an non-gentle person to tell them they’re a non-gentle person.
SO . . . with that in mind, let me give you a couple of examples of gentleness from the Bible.
In Matthew 11Jesus gave us these great comforting words . . . 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus is using the word GENTLE to show us He has this great power and strength but seeks to harness and control it. He wants us to take comfort in His power which is always available to help us when we are feeling weak and weary. He wants us to know He has the power and ability to give us the rest we desire.
In Galatians 6:1 — Paul wrote ~
1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
What Paul wants us to understand is that when a brother or sister in Christ has been found to sin, we, who are spiritual, we who are Christ followers . . . filled with the Holy Spirit . . .
We are to seek to restore that person, but we do it with a spirit of gentleness because we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are filled with the fruit of the spirit of gentleness. So, we use gentleness to restore the person.
It often seems like we live in a war zone. We’re surrounded by exploding lives and personalities and relationships. We hear the cries of those who are suffering, we see those who have made wrong choices and are crying out in desperation.
We have the opportunity to walk alongside them . . . not to berate them, but to help them, to restore them to wholeness.
God is saying, When you see people who are caught in sin – like the woman at the well, like the woman caught in adultery, like Zacchaeus, like so many others . . .
God tells us . . . in fact, I believe He commands us . . . “When you see people in those desperate situations, in their deepest nightmares and crises . . . dear Church . . . be gentle! Be careful! Their lives are so fragile. They could be easily broken. Handle with care! Yet, they can also be restored. So treat them with gentleness. Pick them up and hold them gently. Show them the way back. Help them see they’re loved. Help them come to X. Again, Jesus said, I am gentle and I will give them true rest. Remember, they are mine. I created them.”
Paul also reminds Timothy and Titus to be gentle in their dealings with people who are not always easy to be nice to. He said ~
24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to EVERYONE, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. – 2 Timothy 2:24-25
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of NO ONE, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. — Titus 3:1-2
Those are not always easy lessons to learn. It’s easy to disagree with someone and we let the venom fly. We do it when we don’t fully understand a situation. We jump to conclusions. It’s easy to do, especially in written communication like emails, text messages, twitter and whatever else is out there. Instead of letting our emotions get the best of us, how can we handle situations which show we are Christ followers and we have His strength, but seek to harness it.
Lastly, we need to be gentle when we talk to others about Jesus. Peter wrote ~
15 in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
When someone sees a difference in your life because of Christ . . . and they ask you about it . . . Peter reminds us to proclaim Christ as the reason, but don’t beat them up with it. Be gentle and show respect as you tell them the reason for your hope.
It’s a harsh and cold world. And somehow humanity needs to see that Jesus makes a difference. They needs to see Jesus has made a very real and tangible difference in our lives. Jesus has the power to bring our tempers and our personalities under control.
But . . . will we allow Jesus to have control of our lives, or are we wanting to control our lives, and thereby control the lives of others.
Are you a gentle person? Have you treated others with gentleness? Can you use your power, your gentleness to love others, even those who are a little unloveable? Can you do that? And maybe, just maybe, they will see Christ in you and be moved to come to Him.
This morning, if you’re here and you need the gentleness of Christ in your life, we invite you to come.