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Summary: Communion reflection from the Fruit of the Spirit on the character of Christ … specifically, gentleness.

A FRUIT-FULL MARRIAGE: GENTLE LOVE *

GALATIANS 5:13-26

Sermon Objective: Communion reflection from the Fruit of the Spirit on the character of Christ … specifically, gentleness.

GALATIANS 5:13-26

SERMON

As we prepare for communion we want to pause and shift our morning’s emphasis on the Fruit of the Spirit away from marriage and towards Christ. As I mentioned to you last week, the Fruit illustrate the character of Christ that the Holy Spirit is imparting to His followers. These are not simply human virtues. They contrast with the works of the flesh; they are spiritual virtues with spiritual implications. When we look and love, joy, faithfulness, gentleness, etc … we are seeing the character of Jesus and the Father and when those virtues are birthed within us and they affect our relationships … others see Jesus in us.

In Lee Strobel’s book, “God’s Outrageous Claims” (1997) he records the following. It is called “Maggie’s Poem.”

Do you understand that you represent Jesus to me?

Do you know, do you understand that when you treat me with gentleness, it raises the question in my mind that maybe He is gentle, too. Maybe He isn’t someone who laughs when I am hurt.

Do you know, do you understand that when you listen to my questions and you don’t laugh, I think, "What if Jesus is interested in me, too?"

Do you know, do you understand that when I hear you talk about arguments and conflict and scars from your past, I think, "Maybe I am just a regular person instead of a bad, no-good little girl who deserves abuse."

If you care, I think maybe He cares- and then there’s this flame of hope that burns inside of me and for a while I am afraid to breathe because it might go out.

Do you know, do you understand that your words are His words? Your face, His face to someone like me?

Please, be who you say you are. Please, God, don’t let this be another trick. Please let this be real. Please.

Do you know, do you understand that you represent Jesus to me?

Gentleness.

Sadly, too many people make gentleness a feminine quality rather than a human quality. They simply cannot think of a male as manly when they think of gentleness. But no one was ever more human or more male than Jesus; and he was … gentle.

In a similar manner – many people cannot think of God as gentle. Their image of God doesn’t allow it. If your God-concept is one of judgment, anger, indifference, vengeance, etc. then gentleness does not fit. If you serve what Philip Yancey calls “The God of Gotcha” (“What’s So Amazing About Grace?” p. 191) then you cannot grasp a God who is gentle. But, if you understand the Fruit of the Spirit is God’s character then you have to rethink gentleness.

Never mistake gentleness with weakness. Gentleness stands up boldly to defend or plea for justice, but it suffers in silence when the attack is against self. That is because gentleness is more concerned with the welfare of others than it is with the welfare of self.

I have recently been meditating on the final days and hours of Jesus’ life and how the Fruit of the Spirit reveal themselves during the horrific events that the Christ underwent. Remember, the Fruit show their existence and maturing during times of stress and in relationships. They certainly show forth in Jesus during those times.

They show forth in you during times like that too.

• Maybe a spouse has just told you they want a divorce.

• Maybe your mate has been diagnosed with a serious illness.

• Maybe you are having overwhelming financial problems.

• Maybe you or your spouse’s past has come back with consequences.

• Maybe there is persecution.

• Maybe there are employment problems, or children problems, or parent problems … or … ad infinitum!

IT IS IN RELATIONAL ISSUES THAT GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT IMPARTS AND MATURES HIS CHARACTER WITHIN YOU AND SHOWS IT TO THE WORLD.

“DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU REPRESENT JESUS TO ME?”

Stuart Holden (1874-1934), the author of “Prevailing Intercessory Prayer”, was in Egypt and met a sergeant in a Highland regiment. “How were you brought to Christ?” he asked this bright Christian.

The sergeant responded: “There was a private in the same company as myself who had been converted in Malta , and I gave him a terrible time. I remember one night in particular when it was very rainy and he came in wet and weary from sentry duty. Yet, as usual, he still got down on his knees before going to bed. My boots were covered in mud and I threw them both at him and hit him twice on the head. He kept kneeling and praying. -- The next morning when I woke up I found my boots beautifully cleaned and polished at my bedside. This was his reply to me and it broke my heart. That day I was brought to repentance.”

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