Have you ever really thought about what it means to be a gentle person? Really truly, genuinely gentle towards other people? Gentleness is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. We are called to live a life of gentleness.
I met with some of the girls from YoungMOMs yesterday for our bible study and we talked about what it means that God is gentle with us. We looked at the story of the woman who was caught in adultery and dragged out in front of a crowd of people and placed in front of Jesus. The men who dragged her out were anything but gentle.
I mean, she was already humiliated being caught in that intimate situation, but then to be dragged out of bed, probably still naked, so ashamed and to be placed in front of people….. her eyes probably never left the ground, how could she begin to look up and face all the eyes that were on her.
And then Jesus, by the simple act of kneeling and drawing in the dust on the ground, demands these eyes away from her, onto him. GENTLENESS. Do you see the gentle way that Jesus loved this woman? The gentle way he spoke to the crowd reminding them of their sinfulness too by allowing the one who is without sin to cast the first stone at this woman? The gentle way that Jesus then spoke to the woman after everyone left, without judging her but gently exhorting her to leave her life of sin?
There were 3 girls who sat with me in the youth room yesterday reading this story and then opening up and sharing about what it was like, and is like to be judged by others because they were/are pregnant or because they are so young with these babies of theirs. And the world is not gentle to them. People assume and stereotype them. And they feel unvalued and ashamed and their eyes remain locked on the floor for fear of the judgment they see in the eyes of those around them.
What would it be like if instead of judging these young mothers who are doing the best they can to raise their children after knowingly making a mistake by being involved in an intimate relationship far to soon – what if instead we were gentle with them? What if instead, we smiled at these young moms in the grocery store or at the playground and told them what a good job they were doing, how beautiful that child of theirs is – that child that God knew about even before they were conceived! That child, that although not born in a perfect situation was planned and knit together by God. A Gentle God who does not judge but calls us to live better instead.
And what if it weren’t just teenage mothers that we were gentle with, what if we were also gentle with that teenager who is making poor decisions, whose attitude is less then desirable, whose clothing is very different then our clothing, whose hairstyle is maybe purple or spiked or not there. What if we offered value to that teenage by being gentle with them instead of judging them for being a young person trying to figure out what it means to be loved in a world that does not do a good job loving? What if we were gentle with the homeless person who is begging for money on the corner of the highway, or in front of our office building. That homeless person who we are taught to not trust, to assume they only want alcohol or drugs, while we blame them for their life on the street. But what if we reached out a hand to touch their hand and offer them the value of a gentle touch? What if we bought 2 lunches and sat down on the street and ate with them, asking them about their story and telling them about our story and sharing with them the story of Christ.
What does it look like for us to be gentle to the foreigner who speaks little English? Or to the newly divorced man or woman or to the new widow all of whom are learning to navigate life in a very different way then they had expected or were used to. What does gentleness look like to the criminal or to the person who is just being released from prison after so many years in a cell?
God could have chosen to condemn all of us, to leave us to our life of sin and misery and death. But He didn’t. God chose to be gentle with us, sending his Son to die on a cross so that we could live. And if God is gentle with me when I least deserve it, how much more do I need to be gentle with others who so desperately need to hear how their story could be a new story with the love of Christ.
Praise God for his gentleness!
No GO and do likewise!