A Gentleness Evident To AllSeries: Fruit Of The Spirit
A GENTLENESS EVIDENT TO ALL
Sermon By Terry Siverd / July 30, 2023 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Our thanks to Kris Wildman for the message he delivered last Sunday morning, which drew a considerable audience (both live
and on-line). That alone is not the criterion for evaluating a sermon's value, but it's encouraging to see such interest. Kris spent
much of his time testifying about his personal, decade-long struggle in learning to trust the Lord. One person who commented on-line commended him as a great example of true vulnerability.
When we open up, others are often drawn in by the realness of our faith. I was most impressed the way Kris brought his lesson to a conclusion: it's not so much what we do, but how we do it.
Of course one can do bad things in a really proficient way, but Kris's point was a clear echo of Paul's words in Col.3:17 - -
whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...”. Kris, you have a sharp mind and a really good heart
and you are gifted in many areas, one among which is speaking in public. I and others want to urge you to do more of it!!
Lord willing, Jeannie and I are planning to spend the winter months (December-March) with family down south and out west.
Although our congregational on-going search for a new preacher may have drawbacks, I can foresee rich benefits and blessings emerging from our present condition.
In the process of being without a full-time preacher, we're called upon to “stand in the gap” and use our own people to share in the instruction of the The Word.
If we can remain diligent this bodes well for the future of our church family. Let's all pray that God will use our present circumstances to build up His kingdom in the now and heretofore.
This morning's sermon comes from words written by Paul in Philp.4:5 (NIV) - - let your gentleness be evident to all.
GENTLENESS IS ANOTHER FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT THAT DOESN'T GET THE ATTENTION IT DESERVES.
In Gal.5:22f Paul mentions love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Gentleness tends to be a virtue that's not talked about nearly as much as other attributes – it's almost an after-thought.
But gentleness is indeed a characteristic that every Christian needs.
As children of God, it is a quality displayed by God and Christ that must also become fully integrated into our lives.
Our lives are so much sweeter and our lights are increasingly radiant when our gentleness is evident to all.
In speaking of Jehovah God, the prophet Isaiah writes (Isa.40:11) - - like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather His lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will GENTLY lead* the nursing ewes.
(*In his writings related to the 23rd Psalm, Ken Bailey points out that there is a difference between “leading” and “driving”).
In his many psalms David describes God with words like strength, rock, fortress, deliverer, refuge, shield,
horn of salvation, and stronghold (Ps.18:1-2), but one can't help but notice his summary declaration in Ps..18:35b
- - where David declares, Thy GENTLENESS* makes me great.
*A footnote in the NASV offers the word condescension as an alternate reading for gentleness.
This sentiment is captured by the New Century Version which renders this verse - - You have stooped to make me great.
Isaiah also foretold of the coming Messiah (the Son of God) of whom it was prophesied (Isa.42:3) - -
a bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.
When Jesus arrived on the scene by means of His incarnation we see exactly that. He speaks words
that are unexpected, telling His listeners (Mt.5:5) - - blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
And His words are not platitudes (trite & cliché) - - He actually lives them out. In Mt.11:28-29, he says to His
would-be disciples: Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke
upon you, and learn from Me, for I am GENTLE and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.
At the close of Jesus' ministry (spanning 3-3½ years), He entered Jerusalem knowing His crucifixion was drawing near.
Mt.21:5 cites Zech.9:9 as to His entry - - Behold your king is coming to you, GENTLE and mounted on a donkey...
Like His Father who sent Him, Jesus came as a GENTLE Shepherd, willing to die for His sheep (Jn.10:11f and Heb.13:20).
Although we have often missed the mark in underscoring the importance of gentleness, it is certainly not
because of the silence of Scripture. Throughout the pages of the New Testament we read of this emphasis.
James, the brother of the Lord, notes in his New Testament epistle (Js.3:17) - - the wisdom from above is
first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without hypocrisy.
In addition to Paul's brief comment in (Philp.4:5/let your gentleness be evident to all) and his inclusion of gentleness
as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23), we can also read other NT text extolling the virtue of gentleness.
The ever-so-robust apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth, saying (2Cor.10:1/NCV) - -
I am begging you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ.
To the church at Thessalonica, Paul reminds them that he took this model of Christ Jesus to heart.
Rather than asserting his authority as an apostle, Paul chose to walk as Jesus walked (1Thess.2:6-7) - -
He says of himself: we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for he own children.
(During a recent gathering at our home featuring the Wongs and the Wildman families we witnessed the
remarkable presence and power of gentleness administered by the hands of both daddies and mommies).
In his Ephesian letter, Paul offers these vitally important words (Eph.4:1-3) - - I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,
entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In writing to Timothy Paul likewise promotes the adoption of several key Christian virtues (1Tim.6:11) - -
Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
In a follow-up epistle Paul cautions Timothy (2Tim.2:24-25) - - The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome,
but kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition...
Gentleness (augmented by humility and kindness and related to self-control) is needed by our world in every stage of development. Our current engagements in hot-topic cultural wars do not exempt us from behaving with gentleness.
In fact, perhaps now more than ever we need a resurgence of gentleness among the Lord's disciples
as we interact with one another as believers and with unbelievers of every stripe.
In Gal.6:1, Paul admonishes - - Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you
who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, lest you too be tempted.
The words of the apostle Peter coincide with Paul's, when he writes in 1Pet.3:15 - -
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone
who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.
In times past we preachers have be counseled to not shy away from letting down the hammer.
That was a euphemism for letting our opponents have it with both barrels (to mix two metaphors).
It's true that the term “hammer” is employed by God Himself to describe His word (Jer.23:29), but what
I've learned from life (and the Jesus style) is that hammers often come in various sizes, shapes & weights.
In adjusting a displaced rubber gasket in my SUV sun roof, I have found that a rubber hammer works best.
It makes an impact, but it is softer and doesn't do unnecessary damage in the process or restoration.
Gentleness often requires tact. Someone has quipped that tact is thinking twice before saying nothing.
Gentleness might be measured not so much by what we say as by what we don't say. Tact is the ability to think
of things far enough in advance not to say them. When we are tactfully gentle, we will have less to retract.
Our walk as Christians will invariably require that we speak plainly with one another as we journey together,
but in the process of restoring, reproving and rebuking, we must not let the gentleness of Christ be lost.
Jonathan Edwards, himself a fireball/firebrand at times, acknowledged that gentleness
(not pushiness or assertiveness) is the true and distinguishing disposition of the hearts of Christians.
As a true and distinguishing disposition, gentleness is not a strategy that we resort to now and then.
As Ray Ortlund notes: Gentleness is just who (we are) at the most profound level of (our) being.
Let us all be diligent to incarnate a forbearing spirit of gentleness that will be evident to all who know us.