Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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26. Growing in Gentleness – Part 3

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Not only are we to relying on the Savior instead of self, be humble instead of hurtful, give Grace instead of being judgmental, and be accepting instead of rejecting, but fifth we need to:

  1. Be Understanding not Demanding

When you come into contact with people, be understanding not demanding. Philippians 2:4 says: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” How do you respond, are you rude and demanding or kind and understanding? You never know what people are going through and just like you they have good days and bad days. Take time to look beyond your own needs and agenda and notice the needs of others. Sixth:

  1. Be Teachable not unreachable

When Christ corrects you, be teachable, not unreachable, as James 1:19 says: “let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” If you want to be a gentle person use your ears more than your mouth and be willing to accept correction. The wisest people I know are the people who have a “teach me” attitude instead of a “let me tell you one”. But notice that Christ’s invitation is not just an invitation to stop trying and start trusting but it’s also an invitation to be taught so that we don’t go right back to the same troubles. Unfortunately today many of us don’t want to submit to Christ’s teaching, like the horse we don’t want to humble ourselves to the bit and bridle. But just as a horse is controlled by the tug of a reign so we too will be turned by our teaching. Worldly teaching will lead you down the path of lies but the Word will lead you into life. Our problem is that we want the blessing we just don’t want the bit. Next:

  1. Be Tender without Surrender

When someone disagrees with you be tender without surrender. You are not going to get along with everyone, there will be some who just want to argue and quarrel and will contradict everything you say. One of the greatest tests of spiritual maturity is how you handle people who disagree with you. You really have three options you can retreat, you can retaliate or you can respond in gentleness.

Retreat – If you give in and retreat from argumentative people, saying, “Okay, have it your way.” Because you want peace at any price you need to remember that false peace brings many hidden costs and often ruins relationships.

Retaliate – On the other hand, if you retaliate you take the offensive and fight back but you run the risk of devastating everyone who disagrees with you. When people attack their most common reaction is to become sarcastic and attack the other person’s self-worth.

The third alternative – responding in gentleness, this is the approach God wants you to take in the face of opposition. This kind of response requires a fine balance between maintaining your right to an opinion while equally respecting another’s right to theirs. It requires being tender without surrendering your convictions. Writing to Timothy, Paul said in 2 Tim 2:24-25: “The Lord’s bond-servant must 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.” Gentleness is one of the greatest qualifications for spiritual leadership. If you are a leader and are not gently but instead are characterized by anger and caught up in arguments then you have a major problem. Last but not least:

  1. Be Proactive not Reactive

In 1 Peter 2:23 the apostle Peter recalled how Jesus acted at his trial before Pilate, “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus could have commanded all the angels in heaven to come down and rescue him but he resisted the urge to react because He knew that God was in control. He didn’t need to react to Pilate’s insults because he knew exactly who he was, the Son of God. When someone hurts you are you reactive or proactive? Gentleness has the ability to handle hurt without retaliating. Some of you will respond to that statement by saying “But that’s not easy to do.” You’re right, in fact, it’s impossible because to respond that way is not natural, it’s supernatural, it is the fruit of the Spirit. When someone stabs you in the back and hurts your heart how do you respond? Many of us in our relational interactions say, “You make me so mad!” When you do you are really admitting that someone else is controlling your emotions. You are acknowledging that you have given that person the power to determine your feelings and reactions. Look no one can take that control from you, you give it away the moment you start reacting. The only way to learn to be proactive and not reactive is to learn to lean on Jesus. Rather than just reacting Gentleness reigns in its response by filtering its feelings through God’s grace. If you are going to share God’s gift of gentleness first you have to get it, where do we get gentleness from God. So let me ask you how closely are you clinging to Christ. The only way to grow in gentleness is to let Christ be in control. Come to Him and let him have the reigns of our life. Look, God, doesn’t just want to break us of rebellious spirit He wants to bless us with His Holy Spirit. Whose hands are the reigns of your life in self or the Savior? Are you being understanding or demanding, teachable or unreachable, tender without surrender, proactive or reactive?

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25. Growing in Gentleness – Part 2

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

As we think about the fruit of gentleness that the Holy Spirit wants to cultivate in our lives we are reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. It is here that Christ calls us to come to Him, and bring our heavy burdens and exchange them for rest because He is humble and gentle at heart. As we think about sharing God’s gift of Gentleness Jesus in three short verses reveals 8 powerful principles that He not only preached but modeled and called us to put into practice. The first is that we need to:

  1. Rely on the Savior not on self

Jesus starts with an invitation, to stop trying and start trusting, to trade our weariness for His work. This is what David discovered in Psalm 23 when he declared “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He restores my strength.” So let me ask you who or what are you relying on today is it the Savior or self. When it comes to our interactions with people many of us are responding from a place of weariness instead of responding out of a place of rest. Because we are not trusting Jesus and therefore we are relying on self-strength. As a result instead of being gentle with people, we are often short and gruff. Are you relying on our limited strength instead of the Lords unlimited? The only one who can germinate the seed of gentleness in your life is Jesus. But before you can model gentleness you have to be molded by gentleness. That’s why Jesus is inviting you to come to Him, to rest in Him. Have you responded to the invitation to rest or are you still running? Until we respond to His rest we will always interact with others out of a place of unhealthiness, which leads to us being hurtful instead of helpful. Second Jesus calls us to be:

2. Be humble not hurtful

Jesus doesn’t just invite us to come and rest but to hand Him the hurts of our life so He can heal our hearts. He does this so that we can not only serve out of a place strength as a result of rest but wholeness as a result of healing. Many of us are working out of weakness and woundedness and instead of helping others we are hurting them. Jesus invites you to trade your burdens for blessings, but many of us are gruff instead of gentle because we are still carting around our baggage. We are living in the brokenness instead of the blessing. One of the key evidences that your heart has been touched by the hands of the healer is a humble heart. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less because you are busy thinking more of others. Have you responded to Jesus invitation to trade your burdens for His blessing? Don’t hold onto your hurts or you will get hung up on them and they will harden your heart. Jesus wants to teach us God’s Word because only the truth of God’s Word can tenderize the tough areas of our lives and heal our hardened hearts so that instead of being gruff we can be gentle. What about you are you responding out of hurt or healing? Third He calls us to:

3. Give Grace not judgment

To be a gentle person is to be a person who gives grace to others. Grace is “unmerited favor,” which means we shouldn’t try to make people pay for or try to earn our gentleness. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Only God is perfect, look your spouse will disappoint you, your family will fail you and your friends will let you down. Your church will disappoint you and drop the ball and your pastor isn’t going to meet all your expectations. The time will come when you will have a legitimate complaint, you will be right and they will be wrong. This is the crossroads of gentleness. Which path will you take? Condemnation and the cold shoulder, or grace and gentleness? Before you make that decision, remind yourself how gentle Jesus is toward imperfect people just like you. We can choose to live our lives in disappointment, being angry with everyone around us, or we can be free to forgive because we are filled with the fruit of God’s Spirit. God can use us to heal hurting hearts when we share His gift of gentleness with others. When we see people stuck in the deceitful web of sin, the Bible challenges us to not talk about them but to go and talk to them. Even though we may be really upset about what they’re doing, we won’t win them over by harsh words. Gentleness is to be used to restore others. Galatians 6:1 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” Take a moment and ask God to reveal to you the name of someone who has been slipping into sin who you need to gently come alongside and help. Gentle words have the power to penetrate hard hearts. When writing to Timothy about how to handle those who cause problems in the church, Paul gives some very practical advice in 2 Timothy 2:25: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” What about you, are you judgmental or gentle toward those who sin differently than you do? Sadly some of us are about as gentle as a cheese grater. Fourth:

4. Be Accepting not Rejecting

When someone accepts Jesus as their Savior they don’t just become part of our fellowship they become part of our family, the body of Christ. As we just talked about none of us are perfect but we need to accept one another. Nothing feels worst then being rejected and nothing feels better than being accepted. Romans 15:7 says: “Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” Remember Christ invites us to partner with Him in His church, and He does this not when we have it all together but when we are weary from carrying the baggage of our brokenness, He accepts us where we are. This is not a call to like and tolerate sin but to love sinners. Whenever you feel tempted to judge and reject others, just pause and reflect on how much Jesus has forgiven you. So where are you at, are you relying on the Savior or on Self? Are you being humble or hurtful? Are you giving Grace or being judgmental? Are you being accepting or rejecting?