The notion of a gentleman is today perceived as both offensive and archaic. (When a man I know courteously held open a door for a young woman, she kicked him in the shins!) We Christians however should not be in reaction or conformity to culture, past or present. We must always be sensitive to what “the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation chapter 2 verse 7). This present teaching aims to be an example of such spiritual sensitivity.
My current denomination is in the midst of various controversies over sexuality, on one side are the classic liberals, who might have a rainbow flag flying in front of their church, on the other side are the Evangelicals, famous for their no compromise Bible-based faith. Yesterday I was praying with a group that included both parties. Towards the end of the prayer meeting the bishop present mentioned she had never thought of praying for “gentleness” before. This article was provoked by what is sensed the Lord’s Spirit inspiring me to pray concerning gentleness earlier in that meeting.
A Gentle Warrior
Given our general biblical illiteracy, we may be surprised to find that the man most connected to the notion of “gentleness” in the Old Testament is the great warrior-king, David. He testifies before the Lord, “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” (Psalm 18 verse 35; see also 2 Samuel chapter 3 verse 39, chapter 18 verse 5). Whilst some commentators think this powerful text “makes no sense”, the great preacher Charles Spurgeon shows wisdom and insight in teaching us, “How much patience and gentleness God has had with us in suiting His truths to our understandings and experiences!...What gentleness our God has shown to us in the timing and the tuning of our trials!” Spurgeon is doubtless correct, but to embrace this word we must turn to Jesus himself for understanding.
The Gentle Man
Who but the perfect God-man could say without fear of contradiction, “learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew chapter 11 verse 29). It is because the Spirit is sent by Jesus that one of his fruit is “gentleness” (Galatians chapter 5 verse 23). It is in the Spirit of Jesus that we are to respond to the opponents of the gospel with “gentleness” (1 Peter chapter 3 verse 15). More corporately, those with leadership in the Church are to discipline sinners with “gentleness” (Galatians chapter 6 verse 1; 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 25). Sadly, this is hardly the reputation of the conservative Christians I am familiar with. Praise God however, the scriptures point us to the One who can infallibly heal us of our hardness.
Repent and Desire
The Lord spoke to me once from this text; “‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed” (Matthew chapter 25 verse 24). The Spirit witnessed that despite all our affluence this is how the average Australian thinks of God’s character. If you are surprised by anything I’ve said in this teaching so far, you, dear reader, exemplify this problem.
Paul begins his teaching on spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ”? Becoming the ruler of the universe has not changed Christ’s character in the least. Thankfully he is “the same yesterday and today and tomorrow” (Hebrews chapter 13 verse 8).
In the light of all these wonderful truths I exhort you to change your mind about the character of God, and petition him in the name of Jesus for an infusion of the “spirit of gentleness” (1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 21). If you ask for this gracious characteristic of Christ, he will infallibly answer in the affirmative. This will mean the annihilation (no doubt gradually) of agitation, rudeness, loud speaking, shouting and all other un-Christlike manners in your life (Matthew chapter 12 verses 18-21). What do you have to lose? Don’t hesitate!
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html