Monday, April 07, 2008

Gentleness -- the way I see it...

You may have noticed that I've had a little "dress change" here at Kisses of Sunshine. And one thing I added was a blurb and a scripture at the bottom of my blog claiming that "This blog is a joyful and gentle zone."

I think one of the reasons I added that is because I get tired of surfing around different blogs and seeing fellow believers bash each other, as well as non believers. In fact, in one blog which was devoted to Bible study, I even saw one commenter "called out" into public and her (or his?) comment was open to all for their dissection and criticism. I can't begin to tell you how much this saddens me. Is stuff like that necessary? Are we sooooo addicted to hearing ourselves that we have to call others out? Or is it that we think we are the authority in all things, and feel we need to set others straight? WHAT IS IT? I just don't get it!

Folks, I hope I speak for the entire body of Christ when I say ... as Christians we are called to be "Christ-like," manifesting (displaying) the qualities or spirit of Jesus. Yes, I know that Jesus did show righteous anger... and I know he wasn't a pansy, but what we mostly see, time and time again, is his gentleness.

One of my favorite stories in the New-Testament is of the Adulteress who was presented in front of Jesus for judgment after having been caught in the act of adultery. The teachers of the law, and the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus, and demanded that Jesus decide what become of her. This woman -- a sinner -- was dragged out by men, and placed in front of men to be judged.

If I place myself in her shoes, I can imagine her being frightened to death, with the very fear of her "final judgment of death" itself looming over her head. I'm sure she was trying to pull every scrap of fabric around her that she could... trying to cover her shame in more ways than one. Men around her were gathering stones in their hands, demanding a stoning for her sins... and gently, and quietly, Jesus said: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." I can't even imagine the fear she must have been feeling at that very moment, expecting stones to come hurling at her and begin tearing her flesh.

But one by one, the men began dropping their stones and walking away. If I were her, I'm certain that I may not have even noticed them, because I would have been in a heap, covering my head, and weeping, begging for mercy. I can only imagine the tension that was building -- but suddenly, Jesus said to her: "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" To which she replies: "No one, sir."

And Jesus said: "Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin."

Just like that. He spoke to her with gentleness. With love, and with grace he told her that she wasn't being judged, and told her to go and leave her life of sin. He didn't ridicule her, he didn't bash her, he didn't belittle her. He just pointed her in the right direction.

Friends, reality is... we all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. Without his sacrifice, grace and mercy, we would never be worthy of forgiveness. Without each other's support, we would often find ourselves discouraged, beaten down, and left to feel worthless. The reality is... I'm no better than anyone else, therefore, who am I to judge? Who are you to judge?

In Philippians 4:4-5, Paul exhorts us to "rejoice and to let our gentleness be evident to all." In Titus 3:2, Paul instructs Titus to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, and to show true humble gentleness toward everyone. In 1 Peter 3:15, we are told to be prepared to answer everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope we have "with gentleness and respect."

Time and time again, Jesus showed true gentleness in the midst of conflict. If we are to pattern ourselves to be "Christ-like" than sisters (and brothers), we need to watch how we respond to people. The old "take me as I am, or don't take me at all" phrase just isn't a good enough excuse for us to speak first and think second. It shouldn't fly with your spouse, it shouldn't fly with your best friend, it shouldn't fly with your church friends, and trust me when I say... it doesn't fly with Jesus, because he has given us the power to change!

Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect. Heaven's no. Remember ... when I point one finger at you... I have 4 pointing right back at me! In fact there are many times I stumble, and find myself saying things I wish I could take back. So, this week, I challenge each of you (including myself) to go out of your way this week to be gentle. Be gentle with the gruff grocery store clerk. Be gentle with the harsh blog commenter. Be gentle (yeow!) with your trying children and spouse (can someone shout out a prayer for me?). Be gentle with your pesky neighbor. Be gentle with me. And I'll be gentle with you. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life -- to bend you, to refine you, and to make you a more gentle person.

Think this might be too hard? Yes, you're right -- it will be hard, and the enemy will come at you in all directions. BUT... it isn't TOO hard. It's possible!! Go ahead and throw off the old "coat" you've been wearing, and spring into a new coat of gentleness and mercy on!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

What are your thoughts? I'd love to know what you think ... in fact, would you please come out of "lurkdom" to comment, if you could! I'd love to have an open discussion about this.


GiBee said...

One more thing... I can't even begin to tell you how "skeerd-2-death" I was to hit publish on this post!

Christine @ Serenity How? said...

Great post. I completely agree.

Sometimes it's important to kindly and respectfully disagree with someone else's comment. I personally would only do that on a very important matter where a third party could be led astray, NOT just to correct someone else. I don't need to be right that badly.

It's never necessary to publicly criticize someone or to be unkind. Whether I agree or disagree with another comment, I try to treat other the way I would want to be treated.

As Christians, we really need to hold OURSELVES to a higher standard, not just other Christians.

Thanks for the great post! :)

Susanne said...

Great post, Gibee. In this blog world it is way too easy to let ungentleness and unkindness surface under a measure of anonymity.

Laura said...

Oh Gibee this is a beautiful post. I appreciate you saying these things. I agree we need to all show a measure of grace to each other at all times EVEN when dealing with the tough stuff.

Well said!!

Aimee said...

Great post! Couldn't have said it better myself! ;) I've been noticing this alot lately on blogs too, and it's just too much. Good idea to put that at the bottom of your blog!

Grafted Branch said...

I'm always looking for that line that Jesus walked, on which He was able to exhort others toward holiness without repelling those sinners He came to save.

Every so often, maybe I find it, but sadly, not often enough. So He's taught me to be quiet.

A lovely post, Gibee.

Michele Moore said...

I LOVE this post. This is just the best thing I have read in a long time. I get so tired of all the upset, the anger, the drama. It is so draining, and so contagious. I think that the hardest thing for me is to stay calm, stay kind, keep looking for joy in life if those around me are grumpy and critical. But I also notice that when I am stressed out and grumpy and critical, the tone of voice my children use is worse.

We affect those around us, we can make someone's day or we can be the thing that ruins it. And most of the time the thing we would ruin it over is just so petty.

I am going to try with you. To hold my tounge when I have nothing nice to say and to speak whenever kindness is available. To follow Christ in word and deed.

Thanks for the reminder.


Cindy Swanson said...

Love the gentleness and kindness of your blog! You really do have a sweet spirit here.

Pam said...

Don't ever be "skeered" to speak the truth and back it up with relevant scripture. You are right on target, and I plan to heed the challenge, beginning with those closest to me.

My patience and strength have been waning and falling apart today, and I thought it was justification to be short-tempered and less than gentle with the four others with whom I share my home and heart.

Your reminder resonates with me.

Love, love your new larger header . . . would love to know how to do that, too.

Thanks, sweet friend!