The Bare Soul
- June 7, 2009
The Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness
Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
When reading scripture about the life of David, it's not difficult to view the mightiest king of Israel as a "man's man". David became an aggressive warrior through years of warring -- from his early days of slaying Goliath, to engaging and conquering multiple enemies under his commander Joab. When David wanted to build the Lord a house for His Presence, the Lord stated that his son Solomon would build the house of the Lord, for David had too much blood on his hands (I Chronicles 22:6-10). While many kings and commanders in ancient Israel did truly great things, there were none as great as David. As no other ruler in Israel, we are allowed to see King David's life through the eyes of his own soul. Through the many psalms written by David, we can see how this warrior king was propelled to greatness. In Psalm 18 we read of David who was finally at peace with all his enemies round about about him, including Saul. The relentless pursuit of the former king and the consolidation of the kingdom of Israel was a daunting feat, fraught with much bloodshed along the way. However, David makes a startling statement in verse 18: You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great. Consider this, beloved; that in order for the newly crowned king to have achieved the near impossible, that is rising from a lowly shepherd to become the ruler of Israel, that there had to be a steadying influence over David's heart. Otherwise, his own blood-guiltiness would have caused him to implode. That calming and patient influence was the gentleness of God. For as David experienced the Lord leading and guiding him through the mayhem of war, in the same way he was able to be gentle and loving while pouring his heart out to God through the Psalms. This in turn, caused him to be loved by his people as he united the nation. His greatness was rooted in the fact that he had learned gentleness from his Heavenly Father. David was merely giving back what he had so abundantly received.
David's gentle spirit coupled with his warring,
kingly outcome can be validated through Jesus' own words. In
Matthew 5:5 our Savior stated: Blessed are the gentle, for they
shall inherit the earth. For King David, the only sure way to bring peace
was through war. A good offense is oftentimes the best defense as is customarily
the case, especially in Middle Eastern cultures. Yet, we know that David
possessed a dual nature that seemed brutal on the one hand but gentle on the
other. Jesus confirms that David inherited his portion of the earth by
juxtaposing his war-like mentality with the gentleness of God which made him
great. Gentleness HAS to be demonstrated from a place of strength otherwise it
is weakness devoid of any real power. A more recent example of strength through
gentleness is Dr. Martin Luther King. While King never used violence, he was
still strong in his position and therefore could afford to show gentleness in
his dealings with all men, regardless whether they agreed with his stance or
not. Therefore, gentleness through strength is not necessarily the use of
military power or force, but it is using the wisdom that God gives to reinforce
one's position. The apostle James stated: Who among you is wise and
understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of
3:13). Ironically, King Solomon alluded to this place of strength through
wisdom. He states in
Ecclesiastes 3:8 that there is a time for war and a time for peace. As his
father found greatness coupled with gentleness through much warring, Solomon
found the same gentle strength through peace and the "gentleness of wisdom".
Jesus will always be the quintessential example of someone possessing greatness while demonstrating sublime gentleness. Of course, since he was the gentlest man to ever live, He did indeed inherit the earth as previously stated. The example is there for us all to follow. A few chapters later in the book of Matthew, Jesus is imploring those who would seek to follow His example. In Matthew 11:29 the Lord promises us that if we will indeed take up His yoke that we would have the opportunity to learn from Him. He said that in so doing, we would find that he is "gentle and humble of heart". Jesus never had an agenda other than doing the will of His Father, which ultimately was to redeem humankind. Through this selfless life, we see the greatest man who ever lived with a strength unparalleled. Through His wisdom, He conquered all His enemies in the greatness of His humility and gentleness. The same can be said for our other examples, yet there are differences. Two of the aforementioned characters epitomize strength though gentleness. Both Solomon and our more contemporary Dr. King lived lives of peace, demonstrating the greatness of their wisdom by the gentle strength they exuded. Yet, there is an incompleteness to their destinies even through their peaceful legacies. It is not happenstance that Jesus is referred to numerous times in scripture as the "Son of David". While Jesus lived "gentleness in strength" better than anyone, there is a day when the Lord of Lords will come back to set things straight on this earth. Even as David not only conquered his foes and vanquished them to a place of subservient obedience, so Jesus Christ is coming back to vanquish those whom He conquered on the cross at Calvary at His second appearing. The greatness of His strength will be manifest as he ruthlessly deals out retribution to His enemies, yet gives comfort and compassion to those who have waited on Him day and night for His returning.
While the Lord tarries, how should we live in the fruit of the Spirit known as gentleness? We should look to our examples, who learned that wisdom in strength is not self-serving. David laid down his life for the nation of Israel and became their greatest king through his tender heart toward God and his people; Solomon prayed to the Most High not for riches and glory but wisdom to lead the nation of Israel; Dr. King laid down his life in peaceful protest; and finally, our Lord gave everything that He might redeem a people through the strength of wisdom demonstrated in gentleness. Beloved, that is our heritage. To not live as a self-serving church, but to lay down our lives before those who might hate and revile us. Our commission is to love these with a love borne from wisdom -- a life that is "yoked" with the Lord's and with his gentle, humble heart.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the strength in wisdom that You give us from a gentle, humble heart. Thank you for Your gentleness and the examples that you have shown us both in Your Word and through others that have gone before. Help us to be a loving people in the gentleness of wisdom. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,
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