GENTLENESS – Power Under God’s Control!
BELIEVE: Faith that Transforms Our Lives
Cultivating the Fruit of the Holy Spirit In Your Life!
GENTLENESS — Power Under God’s Control
Matthew 5:5 (NLT) Jesus said, God blesses people who are gentle
Jesus teaches us that God blesses people who are gentle. We like parts of the ideal of gentleness. We definitely want other people to be gentle in the way that they treat us – but most of us are not nearly as excited about trying to become more gentle – in the way that we treat other people.
The Gallup organization ran a poll on which of the top thirty Christian beliefs and virtues were most important to Christians. They discovered that “gentleness” came in dead last. Christians are afraid to be called gentle people. Men in particular struggle with being called gentle. Men want to be known as a “man’s man” – strong, smart, never a push over. Much better to be tough instead of gentle. But Jesus never said that God would bless tough people. What Jesus did say is that God would bless gentle people.
Gentleness is the least popular of all the fruits of the Holy Spirit – because it is the most misunderstood of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We are afraid that people will take advantage of us – if we are gentle. Society has convinced us that if you are meek – you must be weak.
Jesus shows us what true gentleness is. True gentleness does not make you weak. Jesus was never afraid to step up and deal with problems. Jesus confronted the leaders of the Jewish religion and told them they were completely wrong to only emphasize God’s Laws instead of remembering that God was committed to truth and to love. God wanted people to know that both the Law and God’s Love were important – and Jesus challenged them to remember that love was always God’s highest priority.
Jesus confronted the Roman Empire and told its leaders that God’s Kingdom was much more powerful than their kingdom and that only God’s Kingdom would last forever.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to confront even His closest friends – when after being with Him for 3 years – they were still more concerned about gaining personal power and prestige than serving God. Jesus told them to take a time out and remember that in God’s Kingdom – serving was always more important than position, power, or prestige.
Jesus shows us that true gentleness – is bringing whatever power you have been given under God’s control. To help you see ways that you can bring the power God has given you under God’s control – I wanted to invite you to think a little more deeply about the power that God has given to you.
We’ll start by looking at the power of the Personality God has given you.
What kind of personality do you have? Or you an extrovert – who would like to take this microphone away from me and start telling the church family what is on your mind? Or are you an introvert – who prays that you can just live quietly in the background?
Some people think that your personality is something that you are born with and there is nothing you can do to change it. They are partially correct. Parts of our personality are a given and there’s not a whole lot we can change or need to change. It might surprise you to know that my basic personality is more on the Introvert side than the Extrovert side. God has helped me to develop the ability to stand up and share sermons. But my greatest comfort zone – is studying and sharing in small groups. Even though our basic personality is a given – God wants to show us that we can always keep developing our personality – so that you can be the very best version of you that God made you to be.
I think about our Personality in terms of an apple tree and a grape vine – parts of it are permanent and parts of it can be cultivated. An apple tree will always be an apple tree and a grape vine will always be a grape vine. But there is a huge difference between a cultivated apple tree or grape vine and an uncultivated apple tree or grape vine. In a similar way there is a big difference between a Personality cultivated by the Holy Spirit and an uncultivated Personality.
Ask yourself – does God want you to cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit so that you can make the most of the personality you have been given? Consider the perspective of one wife. A wife went with her friend to the police station to report that her husband was missing. When the policewoman asked for a description, she said, “He’s 6 foot 2, has deep blue eyes, dark wavy hair, and an athletic build. He’s well-groomed, sharply dressed, and weighs 185 pounds. He’s soft-spoken, well-mannered, gentle and loves our children.”
After hearing this description, her friend spoke up and said, “You know that’s not true. You know that your husband is fat, 5 foot 3’, and rude. You know that he smokes cigars, is bald, has a garbage mouth, never bathes, dresses sloppy, his teeth are rotten and he is terribly mean to you and your children.”
Well, you’re right, the wife replied. “But who wants that guy back?” God asks the same question of all of us. Do you want to settle for the worst version of yourself? Or do you want the power of the Holy Spirit to help you keep growing into the best version of yourself?
Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
How do we get the power of the Holy Spirit to cultivate and bring out the best instead of the worst in our personality? We have to be intentional. We show the Holy Spirit that we are ready and willing to put on the clothes of the new life that God wants for us – every day.
Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and had your clothes jump off of their hangars and on to your body? No. Every day, we have to choose which clothes we are going to put on – and the same thing is true about choosing to clothe ourselves with God’s power every day – if you are serious about building the best version of you.
God wants to help you to cultivate your personality. Ask God to help you to keep on being transformed – by renewing your mind and helping you to think about what is best instead of what is worst. Choose to put on God’s clothes of mercy, gentleness, and patience. And ask God to help you to keep growing in being able to look at the world the way that Jesus looked at the world.
How did Jesus look at the world? One of the big area where Jesus had a different outlook than most people – was in the way He looked at what it takes to be a great leader.
Jesus is not opposed to anyone becoming a leader. In fact, Jesus wants to help all of us to grow as good leaders. Jesus shows us how much He wants to help us become good leaders by teaching us that real leadership is about serving others instead of trying to take as much away from others as you possibly can.
Matthew 20:26-28 (LB) Jesus said, Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be willing to serve. …You need to develop the same attitude I have. For I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve others, and to give my life to rescue people from sin and death.
Our family was greatly blessed a few weeks ago to celebrate the many good things that our oldest son Matthias was able to accomplish in his Medical studies. One of the honors that he received was for exemplifying the qualities of compassion and humility in caring for patients. The importance of that award was brought home to me when one of our church members who is a doctor shared, “Congratulations on all that your son achieved. I want you to know that after serving as a doctor for many years, the award he received for compassion and humility is by far the most important for building a meaningful career in medicine.”
Our society may not place a high value on gentleness, but God does. And we all have to decide, “Who am I trying to impress?” The applause of society only lasts for a few years. But the applause of God lasts for all eternity.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) Don’t be selfish… Be gentle… Don’t look out only for your own interests, but also look for ways to give a helping hand to others.
God wants to help you look at the world through the right set of glasses. Money, power, and prestige are not what matter most or last the longest. Arrogant, power grabbing people – may get more money and power for the short term. But are they experiencing the most joy and fulfillment in their marriages, families, and community? What is God going to say to arrogant, power grabbing people when they stand before His judgment seat? God wants to help you see the truth – that applies to life right now and to eternal life. When you look for ways to take advantage of others and try to win by pushing others down – you create lose/lose relationships. When you show people that you are committed to serving them and you will always look for ways to give others a helping hand – you create win/win relationships.
God wants to help you cultivate the right outlook and to choose the right words.
One of the big challenges of life in the 21st century – is that we can send off words faster and to more people than at any other time in history. Tweets, Texts, and Emails can travel around the world in just a few minutes. The speed and reach of sending out our words – means that we need to be more careful than ever about choosing our words. Because once our words are out in tweets, emails, or social media – we can’t call them back and they will stick around forever.
Another reason it is becoming increasingly important to think about the words that we speak before we let them fly out of our mouths or fingertips – is that our society is becoming increasingly rude.
TV comedians try to convince us that being rude is funny – but what happens when you are rude to other people in real life? What happens when you tell someone: “You are so ugly, when you were born the doctor took one look at you and slapped your parents. You’re so ugly, when you walk into the bank they turn off the cameras. You’re so ugly, you have to Trick or Treat by phone. You’re so dumb – you stared at an orange juice can just because the label said concentrate. You’re so dumb – you tried to commit suicide by jumping out of a basement window.”
How do you feel when someone is rude to you? I think my father had a good insight into the power of words when he said – You know, people might forgive you for the things you said. But they will never forget the things you said.
When we were growing up – most of us were taught the little proverb – Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. It was a nice thought to help us get through all the mean jokes on the school bus – but is it true. Which do you think heals faster – broken bones or a broken heart?
As the little note on your outline reminds us – your words can INSPIRE or they can DESTROY. Choose your words well. God wants to help you to choose well – by showing you how your words can either heal or blow up your relationships.
Proverbs 15:1 (NCV) A gentle answer will calm a person’s anger, but harsh words make tempers flare and cause more anger.
Words have incredible power. The Holy Spirit wants to help you to grow the fruit of gentleness in your life – by helping you to keep growing in learning how to choose words that are going to inspire and help others to become stronger.
Ephesians 4:29 (NCV) When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need to hear — words that will help others become stronger!
God wants to help you to grow as a person who has the power to bring out the best in yourself and others – by helping you to: Keep cultivating your personality to be the best version of you. Keep cultivating Jesus’ outlook on life. Keep cultivating words that Inspire and build up life. And keep Cultivating your Expectations for a meaningful and fulfilling life.
What makes life really worth living? Would all of your problems go away if you had $1 million? $1 billion? Money is powerful and it can be helpful. But if you think that money will solve all of your problems – you might want to take a second look. One psychiatrist did a detailed study to find out where the highest rates of suicide are found all over the world. He discovered that it wasn’t in the poorest part of town. No, the highest rates of suicide – in the USA, Asia, or Europe – are always in the wealthiest part of town. The big problem is not money. The problem is if you think money is going to solve all of your problems and you realize that it won’t – you can give in to despair.
God doesn’t want anyone to live in despair – so God shows us where we can find fulfillment and lasting joy – and the Good News is that it is in the reach of everyone regardless of where you live or how much money you have in the bank.
Micah 6:8 (MSG) God has made it plain how He wants you to live. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to other people, be gentle and loving, live humbly, and obey God.
God wants to help you focus on the right expectations. Focusing on your selfish desires that promise you instant gratification – money, sex, food, drugs, power, pleasure – can give you an instant high but they will always lead to long term disappointment. The key to finding lasting joy and fulfillment is to ask God to give you what you really need – the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
James 4:1-2 (NCV) Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that war within you. You want things and you are even willing to kill to get them. You don’t get the things that build lasting happiness — because you aren’t asking God to give you what you really need.
God is on your side. God wants to help you to be the very best version of you. Gentleness doesn’t look like the best way to get there – but Jesus kept coming back to gentleness to show the world that this is where you will find the results that we all want.
For 3 years, Jesus worked as hard as He could to teach the first apostles and all the world that the way to reach the lasting joy and fulfillment that they all wanted – was by following God’s path of gentleness. Jesus kept teaching the same message – and His closest friends kept missing it. While Jesus was getting ready to go to the Cross – His closest friends were fighting over who was going to get the most power and prestige.
Jesus did two things to give them one last lesson on the power of gentleness. First – He took the role of the most humble servant and washed their feet. Jesus showed them – that the results that last come from serving, not from taking.
John 13:12-17 (NLT) After Jesus washed the apostles feet… He asked “Do you understand what I was doing? I have given you an example to follow. Do for others as I have done to you. …Now that you know these things, God will bless you — if you follow through and do them. This is the path to God’s blessings!
The next lesson Jesus taught them was at the Last Supper. He showed them that He was so committed to being gentle and serving them and others – that He was going to give His body to be broken on the Cross. He was going to shed His blood to offer forgiveness for people who didn’t deserve it.
Jesus’ lessons on the results that only gentleness can achieve are hard for people to understand and believe. Gentleness was hard for the apostles to understand and believe. They missed the value of gentleness – even though they saw it lived out right before their eyes for 3 years. They even missed the value of gentleness when Jesus was being whipped. Even when Jesus was putting His life completely under God the Father’s power and sacrificing His life on the Cross.
It wasn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection that the light bulb finally went off for the apostles. Oh, if we live for power, prestige, and pleasure – we’re going to be disappointed. But if we take the power we have been given and put it under God’s control we won’t be disappointed. God will show us how to use the power we have been given to serve others – and we really can reach the lasting joy and fulfillment that we all want.
In a few minutes – we’re going to come to God’s table and celebrate Jesus’ commitment to put His power under the control of God the Father. We are going to remember that Jesus commitment to gentleness led Him to the Cross and the ultimate victory of the Resurrection.
Communion helps us to remember Jesus’ commitment to gentleness and Communion gives you and me the opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to keep growing gentleness in our lives – so that we can reach the results that we all want of joy and fulfillment that will last for all eternity.