Sunday, 22 April 2012

Living gently

I started thinking about living gently when we were studying Ephesians: in Ephesians 4:1-3 we are told to be gentle:
 1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
I wondered what it looked like to ‘be gentle’? What do you think?

Well, our example of course is Jesus.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

2 Corinthians 10:1-3
By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you...  I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

Gentleness is the mark of a Christian:

Galatians 5:22-24  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control... Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

Gentleness is counter-cultural. To be gentle, we are not to live as people of ‘the world’ do.
We need to pursue gentleness:
1 Timothy 6:10-11 suggests that we have to flee from pursuing money and everything that brings, instead pursuing ‘righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.’  

Proverbs 25:15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,  and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

 Can we cover ourselves with gentleness?

Colossians 3:12-13  says that, because there is no distinction between any of God’s chosen people, we must clothe (y)ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,  bearing with each other and forgiving whatever grievances  we may have against one another, just as Jesus has forgiven us. 

1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 

Can we have a gentle attitude?

Philippians 4:4-6
 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

1 Peter 3:14-16   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 respect16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

To do all this, being gentle demands strength. Gentleness needs self-discipline.
Consider how it is the opposite of violence:

1 Timothy 3:2-4
 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

Proverbs 15:1  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Our instinct is to retaliate. It requires inner strength to refuse to react.

Yet gentleness comes from a position of weakness:

quotes about Jean Vanier (founder of L’Arche, communities where handicapped people live together) from Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness

Vanier's communities emphasize great humility and gentleness of a sort that is unique in the world - a humility that comes from weakness. He seeks to treat those who we see as "handicapped" as equals. His is not a condescending love; but it is a love that says, "you are as important as I am and I have weaknesses just as you do." It is a radical departure from the conservative who tends to ignore the downtrodden and the liberal who tends to condescend toward others in telling them what's good for them.

This kind of love is actually very much in tune with the love of Christ

So, do we appear gentle in every respect? A challenge!

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