Ping homilies: gentleness

I have been encouraged / prodded by fellow seminarian Shawn Anthony to respond to this week's 9rules religion community topic, gentleness. I must admit that I am a bit reluctant to speak on this topic, because it is an area in which I am somewhat lacking. Shawn pointed out in his article that the meek / gentle shall inherit the earth, according to Jesus' words in Matthew 5:5.

In light of that, I think my patch of ground will be standing-room only, because I often lack tact in my manner of speaking. Perhaps describing it as "lacking tact" is being a bit lenient. I think that far too often, I am so zealous to drive my point home, that I let zeal cloud my judgment and override wisdom and reason. While I dispise candy-coated politics, perhaps I could stand to be a bit more sensitive in my exhortations for Christian reform.

I think that boldness and gentleness are held in a certain balance or tension throughout the Bible. I see gentleness not as wimpy, but as tempered restraint, born of concern for others. When Jesus said to "turn the other cheek" in Luke 6:29, it wasn't because he was powerless to stop any future beatings. I mean, if he had wanted to, he could have called down a fury from heaven more magnificent than any had ever seen. Instead, he allowed himself to be killed on the cross like a common criminal. That's meekness!

In 2 Samuel 22:34-36 and then later in Psalm 18:32-36, Israel's King David also spoke of God's gentleness, juxtaposed by imagery from his battles.

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.

— Psalm 18:32-36 (KJV)

It is interesting to see here a great man, who as a mere boy had fearlessly slain the giant warrior Goliath, reciting poetry about the gentleness of the Lord. It seems almost contradictory for a soldier to admit weakness, especially one of David's military stature. It is key to realize that it was God's gentleness and mercy in David's times of rebellion which allowed him to get up, dust himself off, and still be considered a man after God's own heart.

I'm glad that Shawn emailed me and gave me the necessary motivation to reconsider how I am allowing God's gentleness to be active in my own life. It's a lesson that I need to revisit time and again, that playing the tough guy is hardly ever necessary. I just need to chill out, and realize that God has things fully under control, even without my help. I pray you will let God move too.