Devotion for Friday, May 8, 2020
1 Peter 3:15, “However, do this with gentleness…”
We come today upon my favorite fruit, because it is so misunderstood, yet so profoundly powerful and vital to the effective Christian life. The fruit is gentleness. This word is also referred to as meekness.
Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek (gentle), for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)
The problem is that our culture has equated meekness with weakness. While we (even Christians) give lip service to the value of meekness, we often inwardly revile the concept in favor of strength, might, and the American way of winning.
We value and vote for politicians who embody strength, resolve, and “leadership.” We idolize sports figures who are winners, champions, and elite. We look for guidance from business leaders who have become famously wealthy and economically powerful. It seems that with fame, political strength, athletic success, and abundant wealth comes the right to be heard and followed.
Or does it? Actually, that is not what the Bible says.
I love what my lexicon says about this word, gentleness: it is “the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance.” (BDAG) Wow! That is such an important quality for the Christian disciple, for the Christian leader – for any leader, period.
I remember when I was a freshman in high school, one of the great milestones of my life was to join the adult choir at my home church, Dresden First Baptist Church. I had finally graduated from the children’s choir to the adult choir. One Sunday, our music minister, Marshall Anderson, asked me to prepare to sing a special the next Sunday. As he went through the song with me, he reminded me the importance of humility in worship. He said, “Remember, one monkey don’t stop no show! If you are going to be a show horse, you first have to be a work horse!” I will never forget that advice! We always need to remind ourselves that we are not indispensable to the work of God’s kingdom. If we are called home to Jesus, there may be a nice funeral for us, but guess what…God’s work will continue without us. If we choose not to follow God’s will in our lives and His call to ministry, He WILL find someone else to do it.
In the meantime, “We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes!” This should give us all great HUMILITY in our work in the Lord’s calling in our lives.
Friends, gentleness and meekness has nothing to do with weakness. It has everything to do with humble, quiet strength. Jesus was the greatest authority on righteousness to ever walk the earth. Yet, he always spoke with gentleness. He looks you in the eye, and speaks softly, but His words cut straight to the heart. That is quiet strength. God’s voice was not in the whirlwind or the raging winds when Elijah came to Mount Horeb. God was heard in the still, small voice. Yet, that voice came with the eternal weight of glory and authority.
Peter encourages all of Christ’s disciples to always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is within us. (1 Peter 3:15) Yet, he cautions us all that this must be done with great gentleness and reverence. We MUST stand up for the truth of God’s word, but we must NEVER do so in hatred, in anger, in arrogance, in haughtiness.
Paul instructs Timothy to boldly teach and to correct those he has been called to pastor according to the authority of God’s Word. However, Paul is quick to also encourage Timothy to not be “quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with GENTLENESS correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.”
Our charge as God’s people is to share God’s truth in love AND gentleness. The only thing that separates believers from the lost is NOT knowledge, power, strength, or wisdom. No, the only thing that separates you, dear disciple from the lost one you see each and every day is the grace of God. Never forget that. That recognition breeds within you a gentle voice that carries with it the infinite riches of God’s truth and love.
Always remember the words of Hannah in her song of praise to Jehovah for bringing Samuel, the great prophet, into the world:
Boast no more so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the LORD is a God of knowledge,
And with Him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are shattered,
But the feeble are girded with strength.
1 Samuel 2:3-4