As we build we now can see the goal of our efforts, two things we probably struggle the most with, gentleness and self-control. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus used these two words to describe himself, “I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls.” Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Welcome back to our Winter Bible Study. This week we see how being gentle can remove the pressure of performance from those around us. We are looking at Galatians 5:19-23 and have focused on the last part of verse 22 and 23, one word at a time.
Galatians 5:22-23; But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We have developed several resources that will help us be gentle; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness, they will enable us to be gentle and self-controlled. We will focus on being gentle. Think of holding a newborn baby; you cradle it, support it and embrace it with gentleness. You understand how fragile that life you hold is and how much trust has been placed in you to hold this precious life. That is the essence of gentleness, each life we touch is as fragile as that baby and each life deserves the same care and support.
What does gentleness have to do with the relationships we build? Sometimes it is difficult to find. We have ways to move people out of our way; make way I’m coming through. Truth be told it starts with gentleness when we give people the chance to move on their own, but it goes downhill from there. You see first, we let others know where we are but don’t want to be. Second, we let people know, usually with words, but sometimes we use actions, that they need to make a decision because I am not going to stay here and wait. Third, you obviously have trouble understanding and I am done waiting. I am moving in the direction I have decided to go without you, or anyone else for that matter. Who is with me?
God uses gentle reminders, but I think in some cases it may be more like seven or eight steps to move us, the first five or so being gentle reminders. When God wants to redirect us and he speaks to us and provides direction. We often don’t hear that voice. I know this because Scripture tells us; “he who has ears let them hear.” We all have ears but they are not necessarily tuned to the right station.
That is where the foundation we put in place helps us. That foundation prepares us to hear His voice. He gently reminds us of where we need to focus, what we need to feel, the direction we need to go. If we are in tune with God it is easy to hear his voice. If we have our focus on other things that voice will be drowned out. David shared in Psalm 23 how God is there alongside to guide us in the way we should go.
Psalm 23:2-4; NLT;
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
Let me share with you that hearing God is something that requires work, practice, and effort. The foundation we have built allows us to hear. All the assurances of God’s presence with us allows us to be gentle in the way we deal with others.
Think of holding that newborn baby, if it is your first time holding a newborn whoever hands it to you has several instructions; support the head, cradle the body, don’t squeeze too hard, don’t drop it! As they are handing you the baby they feel compelled to transfer to you the responsibility of caring properly for this fragile, precious life.
The same is true for those that God brings into our lives, they are fragile. God trusts us to handle them with gentleness. He trusts us to embrace them, support them and to gently hold them and guide them. That is all possible because we understand love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.
Gentleness isn’t something that comes easy for us; we tend to be a bull in a china closet. In our desire to conform someone to what we think they should be we employ the velvet hammer, thinking we can coerce them into conformance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gentleness is the key.
Patience is probably the most important character trait we need to be gentle. If we are not patient, being gentle is not something that we can achieve. Babies squirm, wiggle, and cry. We need to be patient as we learn how to handle such a fragile life.
Think about what feeds into patience; we need to possess kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness in our spirit. That only comes from God. It isn’t something we are born with. We must decide to learn, practice, and display that kind of spirit.
Being gentle implies that we understand the magnitude of the transition. Being gentle means we understand the road ahead is long. Being gentle shows an understanding of failure, mistakes, and shortcomings. Being gentle means we know the forgiveness of our Lord and Savior. Being gentle reveals we know the presence of God in our lives.
Matthew 11:28-30; NLT; Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”