Gentleness of Heart

Openers

1.  *Discussion* Would others describe you as a gentle person? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

2.  *Discussion* Gentleness is a fruit of the spirit that is rarely singled out individually. Why should a Christian desire to resemble Christ in this specific way?

3.  *Video* Why should I tell you when I can just show you with a Japanese Animé Fairytale?!

World’s Greatest Fairy Tales: The North Wind & The Sun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhbCy4RNd50

 

Main Points (Choose ONE)

1. Gentleness not only causes you to protect others, but it also protects you against your enemies.

2.  A gentle heart has two companions: patience and love.

3.  A gentle heart creates safety, which encourages openness, which invites change.

4.  Sometimes gentleness feels like a risk that strengthens our faith in God.

 

Foundations

Luke 19:1-9; John 4:1-26 (The stories of Zacchaeus and the woman at the well)

 i. Zacchaeus was an annoying little man on a power trip with his job. He ripped    everyone off and ticked them off all the time.

ii. You’d think that Jesus would deal with him harshly, but as you can see in this story, he formed a friendship with him that was gentle. That made Zacch want to hear Jesus out instead of shutting him down immediately to defend himself.

iii. The woman at the well was living life…well…kinda “loosy goosy” (if ya know what I mean)—a kind of lifestyle that Christians and sometimes even those that are not Christian come down on pretty hard (especially back then!). Jesus was direct with her, yes, but not harsh or cruel. He didn’t embarrass her in front of others. He didn’t even let her in on his true identity until the end of the story.

iv. I love this story just because Jesus was so straight with her, even though it was socially awkward for them to even be talking about such personal things with a) a woman and b) someone of that specific race. But EVEN when he was “straight” with her, he was still gentle. These stories and SO many others are the models we have for this beautiful fruit of the spirit.

 

I Peter 3:15-16 – But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

i. Peter’s basically telling us that not only does gentleness show respect to others, but      living this way protects you from people being able to talk any smack behind your back.

ii. I hardly realized until reading the Bible this year that both the Apostles and Jesus concerned themselves quite a bit with watching their words carefully when people were looking for reasons to speak ill of them and trap them with their words. Sometimes for them it was a matter of life or death in legal situations, so they practiced often and well.

 

Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

i. Let’s just be honest here. Sometimes we don’t feel like being gentle. Whether we hate risking others taking advantage of us, or we’d frankly rather sucker-punch our assailant in the face,  many times gentleness is so the last thing we want to exercise that it’s not even funny.

ii. When gentleness is mentioned in this context, the emphasis is that in the end, we abandon what our own ability to understand the universe tells us and rely fully that God will handle the situation perfectly His own way. There is no reason to fear defeat or inferiority.

 

John 18:36-37 – Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

à Jesus is on trial. He can call angels down to smite the palace of Pilate into a crater, but he doesn’t. Have you ever noticed that in this moment in this particular scripture, Jesus actually explains why he doesn’t kick tail in this moment? Not to be boastful, but to teach about another world—the one that is unseen and eternal.

à To the untrained eye, Jesus’ gentleness doesn’t make sense, but when we remember that there is an unseen kingdom with unknown amounts of power, trusting Jesus to make that call for us makes way more sense.

 

Human Struggles

1. It’s hard to choose gentleness when we have unresolved insecurity, or when we’d rather administer discipline and justice in our own way.

2.  Sometimes denying the desire to assert ourselves in a harsh way requires an uncomfortable risk.

3. People may interpret gentleness for weakness and take advantage, or gaining respect may take much longer.

 

Application Helps

1. The unseen is easily forgotten, but the Kingdom of God and its unlimited power is the reason we are safe to remain obedient in pursuing gentleness.

2.  When we obtain the heart of God, we desire to see people changed. How will people feel open to us if we are not gentle?

3. Practice protecting others from hurt or bitterness with a gentle heart. You will find that it also protects you.

 

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