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On Gentleness- a reflection from Charles Lewis


On Gentleness

This past Sunday, Pastor Matt preached a wonderful and timely sermon from Philippians 4:5. In it he highlighted the significance of the word Greek word ἐπιεικὲς (epieikes). This word, as Pastor Matt so helpfully explained, is difficult to translate into English because it is so packed- full of meaning. The word carries the connotation of being gentle, mild, forbearing, and reasonable (among others).

And as Pastor Matt put forth on Sunday, we really need such a word for a time such as this. As decisions and recommendations are being made on the national, state, and local levels – we as a church and us as individuals will have decisions to make about how we want to go about our lives. As we do so, we it would behoove us to do so with reasonable minds and gentle hearts. Minds and hearts and hearts like Jesus.

Gentleness in the Garden

The good news is that we are made in the image of a reasonable and gentle God. Now, many of us are familiar with the Genesis 3 account where mankind falls into sin and death because Adam stops trusting God and decides to go directly against God’s law. In doing so, the image of God in man was defaced, marred, and ruined (but by God’s grace, not totally lost). Instead of living in the way of gentleness, we often find ourselves living in the way of hostility and unrighteous anger.

But how does God respond to Adam and Eve after they commit cosmic treason? He asks them an invitation that surely he knew the answer to. He asks them “where are you?” By asking them a question he extends them a gentle invitation towards honesty.

After Adam and Eve play the blame game, God reasonably lays out what will happen next for humanity and his plan to bring about salvation through the seed of the woman. And after very reasonably laying out what to expect now in light of the fall, he creates for them garments to cover their naked bodies: an act of gentle care. From the very beginning, even in the face of cosmic treason, our God has been one to deal gently with his people.

Gentleness in Galilee
Jesus was no different. In Matthew 4:23 we are told that “Jesus went all about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every affliction and every disease among the people.” The ministry of Jesus Christ while on this earth was one marked by reasonableness (teaching with sound mind) and gentleness (healing with a compassionate heart).

Gentleness on Golgotha
We also see this gentleness as Jesus hung from the cross on Golgotha. Being mocked, ridiculed, spit upon and brutally beaten, he cried out to his father “Father, forgive them! For they know not what they do.” The all-knowing Jesus who knew their stories of pain and hurt and suffering, he knew exactly how they were wired because all things were created through him and for him, would have known the exact right words to say to unravel them. The exact words to press into their deepest insecurities. But he didn’t. This same Jesus who is Lord of All could have sent the angel of destruction to wipe them all out, but he didn’t. He did not retaliate. No, he pleaded on their behalf with every measure of gentleness “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Gentleness Going Forward
And our Risen Savior, God and King is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore – continually dealing with us gently.

So how have you seen Jesus dealing with you gently today? This week? Over the past 30 days?

The more in which we experience God’s gentleness with us, the more gentle we become. With our brothers and sisters in Christ, with our family members, with our neighbors, with our co- workers, with ourselves.

We are going to need much of his gentleness in the coming months as we try to navigate how to live in a truly pro-life manner in the midst of this pandemic. May our minds be reasonable and our hearts be gentle as we sit in the gentle care of our Jesus. May our reasonable gentleness overflow into the communities and may they see that truly the Lord is at hand.

Lord, let it be.



Charles Lewis is a pastoral resident at the Northside Church of Richmond and has been with the church since August 2019. He is currently finishing his Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary and plans to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America. In his free time he enjoys keeping up with Philadelphia sports, listening to vinyl records and hanging out at breweries and coffee shops.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this, Charles! "So how have you seen Jesus dealing with you gently today? This week? Over the past 30 days?" I need to think and pray and journal about this. His gentleness is SO moving. It changes me. And yet I am quick to forget it! Thank you for the encouragement to sit and dwell on it. I echo your prayer - Jesus, please change us! Thank You for Your gentle, reasonable, pursuing love. Amen.

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