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 we are reminded of Jesus call in Matthew 11:28-30. It’s a call to come to Him and bring our heavy burdens and exchange them for rest because He is humble and gentle at heart. It’s here that Jesus reveals 8 powerful principles that He not only preached but modeled and called us to put into practice. When it comes to God’s gift of gentleness the first principle is:
- Rely on the Savior not Self
Jesus starts with an invitation, to stop trying and start trusting. To trade our weariness for His work. It’s what David discovered in Psalm 23 as he said the Lord is my Shepherd he leads me beside the still waters and restores my soul. So, let me ask you who or what are you relying on today, is it the Savior or self? Relying on self leads to self-effort and exhaustion. But relying on the Savior leads to rest and renewal. Our relationship with the Redeemer dictates how we relate to others. When we are relying on self it causes us to be short with others. In your interactions with others are you responding from a place of weariness or out of a place of rest? Why do we relying on self-strength, because we don’t trust Jesus. As a result we try to run on our limited strength instead of the Lords unlimited strength. 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 invites us to come to Him and rest in Him. Have you responded to the invitation to rest or are you still running? Second:
- 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. Why, so that we can not only serve out of a place strength from 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, its thinking of yourself less because you are busy thinking more about others. Are you consumed with self or concerned with serving 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 out of healing? Third:
- Give Grace not judgement
To be a person who is gentle 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 earn our gentleness. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”Why do we need to bear with one another, because only God is perfect. 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 disappointed and 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. Galatians 6:1 instructs us to restore those who have slipped into sin gently,“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself or you also may be tempted.”Gentle words can penetrate a hard heart. 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 who call themselves Christians are about as gentle as a cheese grater.
- Be Accepting not Rejecting
When someone accepts Jesus as their Savior they don’t just become part of our fellowship they become part of God’s 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 temped to judge another Christian, just pause and reflect on how much Jesus has forgiven you. Are you relying on the Savior or on self? Are you being humble or hurtful? Are you giving Grace or judgement? Are you being accepting or rejecting?