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Believe: Gentleness  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:11:20
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Believe: Gentleness

When fast food is not fast food it tests our patience - but really it tests our character and what happens when our expectations are not met.
"Am I understanding or am I demanding?" (Rick Warren)
This is the same thing that occurs at home when you're "having a bad day" or someone doesn't do what you think they should they way you think they should or when you think they should. Believe me, this is a regular demonstration of how far I have to grow in this particular area. If there's two characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit I'm really weak in (not that they come in separate giftings bc we should have all of them), but as I've told you previously joy is one of them and probably gentleness is my second worst one.

Gentleness Defined

The word occurs more than 20x in the Bible but is often paired with other words that indicate the term is more complex and maybe broader than we might think.
Like most biblical words, when you hear the word gentleness you probably don't think of the same thing that Mose, Jesus or Paul would have thought. In our culture being gentle is often thought of as being weak, a sissy, not being a man, etc.
However, since both Moses and Jesus are called meek and gentle in Scripture this cannot be the case, so what do the words mean?
The idea of gentleness has to do with several images but one of them, prominent in the time period of the OT is that of a ruler who gives mercy or leniency instead of the full sentence that should be imposed. Contrary to the idea that the God of the OT is blood thirsty and full of vengeance, we find that this aspect of gentleness is also associated with him.
This is where the idea of clemency comes from. The constitution actually states, "executive clemency may take several forms, including pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve."
A pardon is an executive order granting clemency for a past conviction, the sentence of which has already been completed. Its practical effect is the restoration of civil rights and statutory disabilities (i.e.; firearm rights, occupational licensing) associated with a past criminal conviction.[2]
A commutation is the mitigation of the sentence of someone currently serving a sentence for a crime pursuant to a conviction, without vacating the conviction itself.[2] (Wikipedia)
Last month Pres. Obama gave 46 people a new lease on life by releasing them from prison. Obama has given 562 sentence commutations since taking office. He also has rejected 10,968 clemency requests during that time.
In 2014 Obama drafted a 6 part clemency test that is used to determine who receives clemency. Some people have criticized this stating that Obama’s technocratic approach has largely stripped the process of moral judgments based on fairness, humanity and common sense. But formulas aren’t enough. Mercy is a judgment call. (See my Washington Post article, “Mr. President, You’re doing clemency wrong. It’s not about the law, it’s about mercy.”)
Alexander Hamilton put it in the Federalist Papers, clemency exists for reasons of “humanity and good policy” and to provide “easy access to exceptions.”
“Humanity and good policy” is not a legal concept. But it is why George Washington pardoned Whiskey Rebellion participants. It is why Franklin Roosevelt gave clemency to people convicted of alcohol offenses during Prohibition and why John Kennedy commuted the mandatory minimum sentences of many drug offenders. It is why various presidents gave pirates, bank robbers, polygamists and others second chances.
Thus while legally you might deserve to be punished or in prison, the idea behind gentleness as a ruler is that mercy allows the ruler to give you less than you deserve. This is at the heart of the Gospel and God's justice/mercy combination. In the case of Jesus, He satisfied the justice while we got the mercy.

Gentleness is an image of God’s ultimate subversive power that undercuts the power structures of this world.

This is seen when Jesus describes himself as "gentle and humble in heart," his "yoke is easy" and his "burden is light" in Mt 11:29. James, in much the same vein, speaks of wisdom “from above” as “gentle” as well as “peacable,” “willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits” (Jas 3:17 NRSV). Ryken, Leland et al. Dictionary of biblical imagery 2000 : 325. Print.
This idea is also seen in the parable of the unmerciful or unforgiving servant in Mt 18:21-35.
As regularly happens with words, the use and applications of the word gentleness change over time. The word, though in its origian may have been primarily related to rulers demonstrating kindness and mercy to people who deserved punishment came to mean much more, especially, as Jesus as God in the Flesh make the concept a real life action and lifestyle instead of just an issue of legal matters and punishment.
To be gentle is the opposite of being “bold” (1 Cor. 10:1), “quarrelsome” (2 Tim. 2:24–25), “jealous,” and “ambitious” (James 3:13–14, with 1:19–20 and 1 Pet. 3:16).
As we'll see shortly, the people we encounter in Scripture have moments where they seem harsh - including Moses, Paul, and Jesus (remember he flipped the money changes tables in the Temple and drove them out with a whip he had made). He was serious. So gentle can't mean a "do nothing, sit by the wayside" attitude. At least not all the time. We find in Scripture that
We see, then, that the gentle can be assertive, but they do not assert themselves. We can be strong and assertive, yet gentle if we leverage power not to assert self, but to promote the cause of God or the needy. Jesus was forceful, even confrontational, yet gentle because he used his powers for others. The same holds for us.
Gentleness is maintaining peace and patience in the midst of pelting provocations. (Martin G. Collins)
Gentleness is a conscious decision to temper one's knowledge, skills, authority, or power with kindness and compassion.
Gentleness does not refer to what we do but how we do it. - Mary Ann Froehlich
Gentleness does not refer to what we know but how we share that knowledge. - Mary Ann Froehlich
The question is not how strong we are, but how we use our strength.

Biblical Words & Their Meanings

To determine what words mean you have to analyze how they are used.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:19 KJV Apoc
Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience.
In his 443 page book on 2 Cor 10:1 Donald Walker explores the meaning, use, and way in which these two words are often used in tandem (particularly in chapters 10-13 of 2 Corinthians) and determines that
In a journal article entitled "The Meekness and Gentleness of Christ" [NTS 13 (1966): 156-64] specifically written about 2 Cor 10:1 Leivestad states
["Meekness"] signifies "a humble, patient steadfastness, which is able to submit to injustice, disgrace and maltreatment without hatred and malice, trusting God in spite of it all.

Gentleness Demonstrated

Demonstrated by God

2 Samuel 22:36 HCSB
You have given me the shield of Your salvation; Your help exalts me.
Psalm 18:35 HCSB
You have given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand upholds me, and Your humility exalts me.
Isaiah 40:11 HCSB
He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.

Demonstrated by Moses

Other than Jesus, Moses is the only man explicitly called meek in the Bible.
Numbers 12:3 HCSB
Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth.
What was it about Moses...
Psalm 25:9 HCSB
He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.
Further in 1 Peter 3:4 we read that those who are precious in God's sight are gentle/meek
1 Peter 3:4 HCSB
Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.
So what about Moses demonstrates this idea of meekness or gentleness because we know that Moses got angry - in Exo 2:12 he got angry and killed an Egyptian, in Exo 32:19 he got angry when he came down from Mt Sinai with the 10 commandments and saw the people having a very bad party - he was so angry he broke the tablets the commandments were written on and had to go back and this time he had to write them, instead of God. And for one last example of his anger, remember in Numbers 20:11 when Moses was supposed to speak to the rock to get water in the wilderness but instead he hit it with a stick - this caused him to not be able to go to the Promised Land.
Let's look at Num 12:1-15 as Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses, are reprimanded and judged by God and then Moses intercedes for Miriam (Num 12:14). Notice the set-up in verses 1-2.
So what was it about Moses that he wins the title for "meekest man"? It was his constant reliance on God, his humility to be taught by God and his patience with others - to the point that when they should be punished/judged he didn't want them to be.
Look at one more verse related to this situation with Moses.
Exodus 32:30–33 HCSB
The following day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I will be able to atone for your sin.” So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. Now if You would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book You have written.” The LORD replied to Moses: “I will erase whoever has sinned against Me from My book.
Now recall this is just after Moses came down and in his anger broke the tablets with the ten commandments on them. Moses is ready to put his life on the line for them!
Numbers 14:13–16 HCSB
But Moses replied to the LORD, “The Egyptians will hear about it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from them. They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, LORD, are among these people, how You, LORD, are seen face to face, how Your cloud stands over them, and how You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. If You kill this people with a single blow, the nations that have heard of Your fame will declare, ‘Since the LORD wasn’t able to bring this people into the land He swore to give them, He has slaughtered them in the wilderness.’
This is after the 12 spies had returned and 10 of them and the people were too afraid to go into the Promised Land so God was angry and was going to send snakes to kill them.
So, we see
Moses does not vindicate himself.
Moses does not defend himself.
Moses does not reject his enemy.

Demonstrated by David (with Abigail)

Video: Believe Gentleness (3:04)
1 Sam 25 David was planning on repaying Nabal's lack of generosity (and recipricating David's previous gentleness to him) with vengenace...until Abigail intervened.
This seems to be a living example of Prov. 15:1
Proverbs 15:1 HCSB
A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.
This stands in stark contrast to Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12:6-14 who refused to listen to wise teaching and seems to have no desire for being a gentle leader.
1 Kings 12:14 HCSB
and spoke to them according to the young men’s advice: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with barbed whips.”
Now this attitude by Rehoboam is the exact attitude of everything else we've seen and it is the exact opposite of what we see...

Demonstrated by Jesus

In fact, interestingly enought, some of the same terminology regarding yoke is used of Jesus, but notice the glaring difference when compared with what we've seen of Rehoboam.
Matthew 11:29 HCSB
All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.
Zechariah 9:9 HCSB
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Not only does Jesus claim gentleness for himself, he urges all who are burdened, dumped on, exhausted from trying to please everyone, to come to him, to come under his authority, under his leadership, to let him be their teacher, because Jesus' teaching will not wear you out and the reason it won't wear you out is because it's not about rules it's about relationships, it's not so much about laws as it is about love.
Not Rules but Relationships.
Not Laws but Love.

Demonstrated by Paul

Romans 9:1–4 HCSB
I speak the truth in Christ —I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit — that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. For I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises.
Paul, like Moses so wants the Israelites to believe he's willing to go to any length to see them saved. Thus in 1 Thess 2:7
1 Thessalonians 2:7 HCSB
Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother nurtures her own children.
This understanding makes it all the more significant when Paul says in 2 Cor 10:1
2 Corinthians 10:1 HCSB
Now I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ—I who am humble among you in person but bold toward you when absent.
and earlier Paul wrote
1 Corinthians 4:21 HCSB
What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Gentleness Demanded

Demanded by Jesus

Matthew 5:5 HCSB
The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth.
The way into the Kingdom of God and the manner of living in the Kingdom of God - is one of gentleness.

Demanded by the NT

1 Timothy 3:3 HCSB
not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy —
Thus, here we see that gentleness is the opposite of bullying and pushing people around.
2 Timothy 2:25 HCSB
instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.
Yesterday the JW's came by the house...
How do we respond to people who disagree with us, think we are wrong, foolish, stupid, ignorant, etc.?
As Rick Warren says "I never get my point across by being cross."
Furthermore Rick Warren adds "Do I want to make a point or do I want to make a friend?"
1 Peter 3:15–16 HCSB
but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.
Peter, one of Jesus' inner three remember, further instructs us (if we have the meekness to hear it) regarding bosses, employers and in the first century context, masters.
1 Peter 2:18 HCSB
Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.
Notice he says this regarding cruel masters/bosses.
This shows us how far we are supposed to go. This should come as now surprise, thought it does shock us, becuase Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies.
1 Peter 3:1 HCSB
In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live
Peter issues a similar challenge to those married to unbelieving spouses. Being angry and resentful toward them is not going to change them. Rather love, demonstrated in gentleness, kindness, forgiveness will like water on rock, wear at them until they at least wonder how in the world you do it. Now, sometimes maybe they don't stick around long enough to find this out - maybe the unbelieving spouse just leaves - you can't control other people - you can only control your response.
Thus Peter alone (if we had no other Scriptures) tells us that whether you're dealing with a cruel boss, unbelieving (cruel) spouse or unbeliever in general - you are to be gentle/meek with them.
Paul further demonstrates what this characteristic looks like with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Galatians 6:1 HCSB
Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.

Be Gentle To All!

James 3:17 HCSB
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.
Titus 3:2 HCSB
to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.
I'm from NY - we're known as being rude, more so if you're from the city. If you go out of the country, it's not just NYers who are know as rude, it's Americans in general. And Christians, well.....
When something dissapoints you this week be gentle not judgmental! (Rick Warren)
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