Summary: A sermon on what gentleness is and how it is produced in us.
August 1, 2004 Fruits of the Spirit
Children are naturally born wrecking machines. After having four of them, I am convinced of it. They love to tear, rip, smash, slap, pull and push anything they can. It is almost a weekly thing where something is broken in our household. This becomes more dangerous when smaller infants get in the presence of toddlers. You have to keep a constant eye on toddlers and say “gentle, nice” - all the time. Otherwise, before you know it, the toddler will be picking the baby up by the hair or giving him or her an eye gouge. The point I’m getting at is that “gentleness”, just like all of these other fruits we’ve been talking about - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, is NOT a natural thing. It has to be brought about by the Spirit. Yet today, through that ongoing work of the Holy Spirit - I hope and pray that He makes us more gentle people.
The Fruit of Gentleness
I. Is needed for things that are fragile
God calls on us to be gentle because we live in a fragile world among fragile people. Americans like to talk about their strengths and act as if they were in control of their destiny - but we are not nearly as powerful as we think we are - either spiritually, mentally, or physically. God’s Word continually makes this clear as it says -
• Psalm 103:14-15 He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
• Ephesians 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.
• Romans 6:19 You are weak in your natural selves.
• James 4:13-14 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
God’s Word describes you as dust, a mist, grass, dead, and weak. Look at the story of Job. How powerful was he in the whole situation? In the end - he was an absolute puppet - unable to do ANYTHING to defend himself against Satan’s attacks. He was absolutely HELPLESS. The end matter is - no matter how much potential you think you have - no matter how powerful you THINK you are - in God’s eyes - you’re nothing more than a mist that appears and then vanishes.
Doesn’t experience itself teach this most basic lesson? This really hit home this past week when one of our young fathers was in a bad bicycle accident - breaking his pelvis and shoulder. In the blink of an eye, he went from being a young and very active hard working man - trying to get in better shape - into a man who can barely even walk with the help of a walker. He could have very easily - very easily - died in that accident. It shook him up - it shook me up - his wife up - when you think about it - it should shake all of us up - because it was a harsh reminder to ALL of us how fragile we really are. All it takes is one wrong turn, one faulty valve, one mistake - and you could die. If God lifted His protection from you for one second - one minute - I can guarantee you that the devil would torture you to death - and there is absolutely NOTHING you could do about it. Therefore, God needs to deal with us GENTLY, because if He didn’t, we would die - and die quickly.
II. Is not easy to produce
The problem is that deep inside gentleness is something that you and I inwardly loathe. Parents become angry and frustrated at their infant children because they need to be fed in the middle of the night. It’s not like they can do anything about their hunger or their soiled diaper. Yet many times parents just become angry with the child because he or she is disturbing their sleep. They become angry when their children come crying to them because they skinned their knee. They hate the fact that their weak children need attention. Husbands often times get angry because their wives need attention - need to be talked to - appreciated - treated more specially than a drinking buddy. They despise the fact that their wives are so sensitive. Wives don’t like the fact that their husbands aren’t as sensitive with the children - that they aren’t good communicators. So they constantly complain about their spouses and ridicule them to their faces. Bosses get angry with their employees when they have a hard time keeping up with their duties because they’re sick or they’re tired or they just can’t do it right. Employees become angry when they have to make up for the insufficiencies of their bosses. These are Christians who respond this way. Why? Because we hate weakness. Life would be easier without it.