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:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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?