Last Wednesday I kicked off a five-week series on what it means to "walk in a manner worthy" - a phrase found in Ephesians 4:1. Specifically applied to relationships, the Apostle Paul lays out five ways in which we are called to walk with other people. Today is GENTLENESS.
Gentleness is a word that appears multiple times throughout Paul's writing, probably most referenced in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). He tells Timothy to pursue gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11) and to correct opponents with gentleness (2 Tim. 2:25). Similarly, Paul tells the churches in Galatia to restore those caught in transgression in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1).
I think it will be easiest for me to explain this word by using a visual illustration: you know very quickly that your local developer isn't interested in restoring a broken-down house when they send a wrecking ball to the property site.
How does that relate to this passage? Here is it - all Christians are still broken people. But God has for ordained those broken people to walk with other broken people and restore each other in the process of walking together.
You will be sinned against by fellow believers. You will walk with Christians in ministry who have major moral deficiencies. You will live with family members who love Jesus yet still fail to live in accordance with the Bible. And, lest you forget, let me remind you that you're one of those people too!
When you experience these deficiencies in your fellow believers, do you respond with a wrecking-ball attitude of condemnation? Are you quick to knock them down and destroy their character? Or are you gentle in your reaction? Do you use small tools of restoration to slowly, painfully, and gracefully reveal to them where they have failed?
You see, gentleness will not come naturally to you. Sin has turned your heart into a wrecking ball. But remember, you're never alone. There's grace for your struggle. Jesus is with you, Jesus is for you, and Jesus is in you.
Paul David Tripp
- Have you confused gentle restoration with intentional disregard of sin? (NOTE: The Bible never ignores sin; it always confronts, but in a gentle and forgiving way.)
- Have you ever tried to "speak truth in love" (Eph. 4:15) but with a wrecking-ball tongue? What was the result?
- Do you feel encouraged, loved, and restored after someone takes a wrecking ball to your character?
- In contrast, how do you feel when someone restores you with gentleness?
- Why is a wrecking-ball method of condemnation more natural than a gentle method of restoration?