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Gentleness
03/16/2014
Scripture: Isaiah 40:10, 11, 15,25-26; Psalm 18:35;...
Track 9 of in the series
Think about this a minute, how many people do you know who are praying about and working on becoming more gentle Is there a long list of people I would guess that most of you would say you dont know of anyone. This is not to say that the grace of gentleness is entirely absent from the Christian community; but perhaps we dont value it as highly as God values it.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


The Practice Of Godliness
Gentleness

Think about all the gifts of the fruit of the spirit, which ones do you pray for the most? We pray for patience, we pray for love, we pray for purity and self-control. These are usually the ones we feel we need the most of in order to live the kind of life Jesus wants us to display for him. But there are some fruits of the spirit that cause positive reactions and make knowing Jesus a personal thing.

Wishing to seal a letter, a man called for a lighted candle. The maid obeyed his orders; but, proceeding too hastily, the flame, which had not yet gathered sufficient strength, went out. "Here," said the man, "We have an example to remind us of the gentleness and moderation to be observed in our behavior towards weak and erring brothers. Had this candle, when first lit, been carried slowly, and shaded by the hand from the air, it would not have been extinguished, but would soon have burned with vigor. In like manner, many a weak brother might be set right, if we only came to his help in the right way and with kindly advice."

Writing in the year 1839, George Bethune said, “Perhaps no grace is less prayed for, or less cultivated than gentleness. Indeed it is considered rather as belonging to natural disposition or external manners, than as a Christian virtue and seldom do we reflect that not to be gentle is sin.”

Christian attitudes toward gentleness does not seem to have changed in more than 175 years since that quote was penned. Think about this a minute, how many people do you know who are praying about and working on becoming more gentle? Is there a long list of people? I would guess that most of you would say you don’t know of anyone. This is not to say that the grace of gentleness is entirely absent from the Christian community; but perhaps we don’t value it as highly as God values it.

How would you define gentleness? Billy Graham describes it as mildness in dealing with others…it displays a sensitive regard for others and is careful never to be unfeeling for the rights of others.

Many mistake gentleness for meekness. They are not the same thing. As we will see in today’s study, gentleness is an active trait, describing the manner in which we should treat others. Meekness is a passive trait, describing the proper Christian response when others treat us.

If you own a carton of exquisite crystal glasses, how would you handle them? You would handle them with care or gently.

The virtue of gentleness is the recognition that the human personality is valuable and fragile, and must be handles with care. Both gentleness and meekness are born of power, not weakness. There is a pseudo-gentleness that is effeminate, and there is a pseudo-meekness that is cowardly. But a Christian is to be gentle and meek because those are Godlike virtues. God is both powerful and tender as described in Isaiah 40:

Isaiah 40:10, 15,25-26 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Tucked away in the middle of this description of God’s power are these words:

(11) He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Scriptures so well describes God as this all-powerful God, yet a God who is also very gentle.

Why then is gentleness a powerful trait rather than a weak trait like the world believes? It takes God’s power to be like this.

Psalm 18:35 from the King James version: Thy gentleness makes me great
From the NIV: You stoop down to make me great.

From the definition of gentleness as read in the NIV, what is gentleness? Gentleness is stooping down to help someone. God continually stoops down to help us, and he wants us to do the same – to be sensitive to the right and feelings of others.

When Jesus calls for us to stoop down, from where are we to stoop? From the position of the self. When we talk about the rights and feelings of others, what are we talking about? How do we put this into action?

The Gentleness of Christ

Look at 2 Corinthians 10:1, Paul appealed to these Christians by the gentleness of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:1 By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away!

How does the New Testament describe the gentleness of Christ? Matt 11:28-29

What are some of the words that jump out at you from these verses? Christ’s whole demeanor was such that people were often restful in his presence. People are at rest, or at ease around the Christian who is truly gentle.

Why is this? Have you felt that way around a person who you thought was gentle?

These people are those who are hurting, spiritually weak or of little faith. Jesus deals gently with such people. He did not condemn then for their weakness. He does not come down with a heavy hand, rather he deals with them gently until their true need is exposed and they are open to him for help.

What is the churches general response to these kind of people? What should our response be to those that are hurting, spiritually weak or of little faith?

Remember last week when we talked about patience. We talked about things like long-suffering and forbearance. It requires patience to be a gentle person when dealing with those who are hurting, those who are spiritually weak or of little faith. You can’t be gentle without patience.

What is the key thing Jesus is trying to accomplish that a harsh man will not get to do? The harsh man will not get the weak to open up to him for help.

True or False: I have a Yes face

A profile of gentleness as it should appear in our lives will first include actively seeking to make others feel at ease or restful in our presence. We should not be so strongly opinionated or intolerant that others are afraid to express their opinions in our presence. We should not make others feel guilty…Take care not to break the bruised reed (hurting Christian) or to snuff out the smoldering wick (immature Christian).

Gentleness will also avoid blunt speech and an abrupt manner, instead seeking to answer everyone with sensitivity and respect, ready to show consideration to all. The gentle Christian does not feel he has the liberty what he thinks and let the chips fall where they fall. Instead he is sensitive to the reactions of others to his words, and considerate of how others may feel about what he says. When he finds it necessary to wound with his words, he also seeks to bind up those wounds with words of consolation and encouragement.

The gentle Christian will not feel threatened by opposition or resent those who oppose him. Instead he looks to gently instruct, looks to God to dissolve the opposition, not beat the opposition into submission. And the gentle Christian will not degrade, belittle or gossip about a brother who falls into some sin.

But what about the person who does fall into sin? Does this mean we are not to hold that individual accountable? Are we to tolerate sin?

True or False: Jesus was tolerant of sin!

There is one more aspect of this trait that I want you to know about. It is close to what we understand as gentleness. We call it considerateness.

James 3:17 (NIV)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

According to the commentators, there are several words that are needed to describe this trait: yieldedness, reasonableness, big-heartedness, geniality, humane. All these words run in contrast to traits like strict justice and is used of judges who do not press the letter of the law. It is also used of people who listen to reason. The gentle Christian asks the question, “What is the right thing to do in this situation?”

The Pharisees were people who looked to live life strictly by the letter of the law. Jesus in contrast was gentle and was first concerned about the individual and how to better meet their needs as they became more obedient to God’s ways. The legalist looks to force people into obedience, the gentle Christian works to lead the person into obedience and show that obedience to God brings joy and peace. The legalistic person sees the gentle person as weak and tolerant of sin. The gentle person sees people.