Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gentleness through the Spirit

I doubt that many people think of the word gentle when they try to describe God. Awesome, powerful, sovereign, loving - sure, those would be on the list, but gentle? This is the same God that opened the earth to swallow up some of the Israelites who were rebelling and questioning Moses' leadership (Numbers 16)...the same one who struck Ananias and Sapphira dead because they lied about how much they sold their property for (Acts 5). There was a time when our society lived in fear of God's wrath. In more recent years people focus on the other extreme; wanting God to be a push over who makes suggestions but doesn't expect us to take them to heart. Some might call that gentle, but this is a misunderstanding of that word.

Gentleness is defined as "being moderate in force or degree so that the effects are not severe." (Encarta Dictionary) It was recently explained to me as the correct center of the anger spectrum from never being angry on one end, to being angry all the time on the other end. In other words, it is knowing when it is appropriate to be angry and handling one's anger appropriately. It is probably the fruit I need most to ask the Holy Spirit to provide in my life.

Some examples of God being gentle from scripture are:
  • I Kings 19 - After being present for God totally defeating the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18) Elijah gets a nasty note from Jezebel and decides he better run for it. Early on he wants to give up and God sends an angel to him with food and drink (twice!). He runs some more, then decides to hide in a cave. God asks him what he's doing there and Elijah explains how bad things have gotten to God. God invites Elijah to step out of the cave and watch him pass by. Big wind comes, then an earthquake, then a fire. After the fire came a gentle voice. God again asks Elijah what he's doing there and Elijah complains some more. Then God tells him to go back and get ready to retire, passing on his ministry to Elisha. When Elijah was ready to throw in the towel in spite of having witnessed one of the most dramatic miracles and victories of all time, God could have blasted him with the wind, or the earthquake or the fire. Instead He uses a gentle voice to tell Elijah his next steps, though at least one of those would be somewhat painful - laying aside his prophet mantle. God says the hard words, but He does so in a way that is easy to accept.
  • Matthew 11:29,30 (NIV) - "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." This is a promise to the weary and burdened. Jesus offers us His yoke. Please note that there is a yoke, but it is an easy yoke, and it is controlled by our gentle Lord.
I can both know and emulate this gentleness in my own life. Amen.


Related Posts with Thumbnails