“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” - Philippians 4:4-5 NIV
We certainly live in an over-the-top culture today. Perhaps it’s always been this way but the megaphone is a lot larger these days. Examples?
Loquacious politicians can’t wait to get in front of a camera and microphone to proclaim how smart they are and how misguided their opponents must be. Loquacious is a fancy word for someone who talks WAY too much.
One major member of Congress really stuck their foot in it last week after the guilty verdict in the court case dealing with the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last year. “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice," they said.
Yes, that was a thank you for someone being murdered so that a particular ideology could be pursued. Thanking the dead guy is a new low, even for this particular politician.
Celebrities feel it’s their responsibility to take to social media to mock someone else – or worse - from thousands of miles away on whatever topic they choose. Doesn’t matter if their opinion is misguided or just flat out wrong, they’re a CELEBRITY and their fans deserve to hear from them on just about anything.
Also last week a major sports star decided to pass judgment early on a police shooting case in Ohio that had just occurred. They took to social media to virtually threaten the police officer involved while apparently missing the part where the girl shot in the incident was threatening other people around her with a knife in her hand clearly visible on video afterward.
The sports star had no problem spewing but apparently never took the time to view the evidence that the whole world saw. And at last check we’re still waiting for the sports star’s apology to everyone for being so completely wrong.
These people and many others, rather full of themselves because of their current stature, probably wouldn’t agree with Paul in his letter to the Philippians. For them it’s all about their own power and influence. They would have no idea on the true power of gentleness.
Using simple gentleness was a popular theme for Paul – he used the term in many of his letters to churches he helped to establish and grow…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
No, you won’t find any of those attributes above on any of the talking head news shows on cable TV these days. But when you think about the problems facing our society today, problems that have been around for a LONG time, notice how the same old mouthing off or boasting or confrontation still has not solved the problem.
Perhaps Paul – and Christ – had the answers 2,000 years ago?
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV
That word “humility” is such a dirty word for those in power and influence. To them humility is weakness, something they dare not show. Not to mention “be patient” because in our warp speed society of the 21st century we want answers and results immediately.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” – 2 Timothy 2:24-25 NIV
Oh boy, landmines everywhere here. Many people today have made careers and riches out of being quarrelsome. Too many of today’s issues breed resentment. Isn’t it interesting how the same bad attitudes used by those who could make a difference never seem to solve the problems?
Let’s add one more, from the writings of Peter…
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” – 1 Peter 3:14-16 NIV
We’ve all seen those crowds of protestors after recent events in cities across America, yelling and screaming and acting out in too many cases. Gentleness and respect are the least of their wishes – only in-your-face confrontation works for them. And by doing so their goals of righting wrongs and injustices continue to be miles away.
Now of course you could look at all of those verses again and see who is mentioned in all of them. The Lord. The Spirit. God. Christ.
You don’t have to be some famous or rich person to feel the power and wisdom of the Almighty. Anyone who has faith in Him has the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit – but the ground rules are clear.
Peace is the goal. Respect is the strategy. Gentleness is the answer.
Don’t quarrel. Use self control. Let the other side do the name calling and eventually they’ll be called on the carpet for it.
Be humble and patient. Show love to others and quietly teach them with the hope that eventually the others will begin to see the truth.
The temptation from anyone in this day and age is to tell the politician and the sports star mentioned above to please just SHUT UP and stop throwing gasoline on the proverbial fire. But then – we’d be going against those ground rules just mentioned, wouldn’t we?
We have tremendous problems in our current times, and we all want answers to those problems. Some of these issues aren’t new – some go back to before the formation of our national union. While many will continue to spew or post or act out because of rage or jealousy or hubris, God calls us to do the opposite.
Can’t be done? Just not effective? Won’t work?
Can we mention some people here? Abraham Lincoln. Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. Nelson Mandela. Mother Teresa.
All of these famous people of history – and many more not so famous – followed the idea of gentleness and the goals they ultimately achieved were stunning to people of the time.
And the most famous one of all, the man from Nazareth who preached peace and love for others, who showed humility when He could have certainly showed otherwise, who led by serving all the way to the cross – and who had the ultimate victory on that glorious Sunday morning.
This week – see where you can show gentleness. And eventually watch the results…
From George Churchgoer