Summary: Funeral message for Matthew Jackson, a quiet man whose chief pleasure was to be among family and friends and who devoted himself to a disabled son.
There are two kinds of quiet people. There are those who are quiet because, to tell the truth, they have nothing to say! And then there are those who are quiet because they are simply content with what they know; they have no need to impress anyone else. There are two kinds of quiet people.
Two kinds of quiet people: some say little because they have little to say. They haven't thought much about anything. Not much is happening inside and so not much happens in their conversation. They have to be quiet because there just isn't much to talk about. Their lives are impoverished.
But others say little because in their wisdom they are content, they are secure, they are at peace. In them there is no need to compete with others, no motivation to impress others, no urgency to win points. In these quiet spirits, happy just to be alive, there is a very special power. It is the power of a gentle life, the power of a secure heart; it is what one writer called "the royalty of inward happiness."
There are, I say, two kinds of quiet people. I once saw it well laid out on a little poster next to someone's easy chair. The poster said, "Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits!" Some who say nothing because they have nothing to say; they "just sits". And others who "sits and thinks,” who in their own souls are content; not competing with anyone, they feel no need to impress. They are at peace.
Such a spirit was Matthew Jackson. Gentle, secure, quiet, composed, able to contain himself and yet able to give himself. Strong even in these last months of weakness; composed even in these last days of his life. Happy even when the outlook seemed bleak. One of the images I have of Mr. Jackson is him sitting with his good friend John Sheppard ... neither of them needing to say much, neither of them needing to fill the air with idle chatter. Just quietly able to be in one another's presence. Sometimes he "sits and thinks"; others maybe "just sits". But he is quiet and secure.
What is the secret? How do we find our way to a quiet, gentle, peaceable life like his? We have come to honor this gentle spirit, this great heart. How can we, like him, live life knowing peace? How can we even approach the end of life knowing peace? The Scriptures instruct us.
James tells us first that gentleness is born out of God's gift of wisdom. Gentleness is born out of God's gift of wisdom. When our God gives a man wisdom, true wisdom, he no longer needs to compete, he no longer needs to be bolstered or praised or flattered. When God gives a man wisdom, his wisdom becomes gentleness and strength.
James says, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom ... if you have envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder ... But the wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle."
If there is any lesson our boisterous world needs to learn, it is that our need to compete with one another, our emphasis on winning at all costs, will destroy us. There is a healthy ambition, of course, but there is also selfish ambition and envy, there is also that sick need to get ahead. You see it everywhere ... you see it in politics, you see it in business, you experience it even while driving on the streets. Some folks just have a need to be there first. And the Scripture interprets the result of that .. "where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder."
But Matthew Jackson had learned that to be somebody does not mean pushing aside others on your way. Matthew Jackson had learned that real strength lies in being content, lies in lingering among family and friends, in possessing your own soul. Matthew Jackson's life and death both teach us how wonderful it is just to receive from a gracious God the art of gentle living, born out of wisdom. The secret of his peace begins with his receiving God's gift of gentleness born out of wisdom.
But Matthew Jackson's gentleness, his wisdom and ultimately his peace, had another distinguishing mark as well. Mr. Jackson learned how to yield himself to the demands of the hour; he learned to how give himself to what the Spirit called him to. And James says that this is a part of the gentleness born of God's gift of wisdom.
"The wisdom from above is … peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy …" Willing to yield, full of mercy.