This week we welcome guest blogger, Daymarr Jackson. In addition to being Faith Church’s youth leader, Daymarr is a Chaplain candidate in the PA Army National Guard, and a MDiv student at Evangelical Seminary. Daymarr and his wife, Danielys, have two children. This week he continues our series on the Fruit of the Spirit.
What is keeping us from being gentle with others? An article that I was reading this week suggests that one of the reasons that we lack gentleness towards others is because we think too highly of ourselves. Another reason that we lack gentleness towards others is because we don’t think that the sin in our life is as bad as the sin in the lives of others. We can become cold-hearted and callous, as we see people struggle with sin.
Jesus once told a parable about this (Matthew 18:21-35). “Peter came to Jesus and asked the Lord, ‘How many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Seven times?” Peter probably thought that seven was a good number, the number of completion. It’s as if Peter is saying, “How about seven, and then I’m done, right?” As if we can forgive seven times and move on.
Jesus says, “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king, who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And as he began the settlement, a man who owed him 10,000 bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children, all had to be sold to repay the debt. At this time, the servant fell on his knees before him, ‘Be patient with me, he begged, ‘and I will pay everything back.’ The servant’s master took pity on him and canceled his debt and let him go.”
“But when the servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me. I will pay it back,’ But he refused. Instead he went off, and had the man thrown into prison until he can, until he could pay the debt.”
“When the other servants saw what happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that happened. Then the master called the servant, he said, ‘You wicked servant. I cancelled all the debt of yours because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servants, just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back all he owed. This is how your heavenly Father will treat you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
This is a picture of many of us. This is a picture of me at times when I know what I’ve done. I know the things that I’ve struggled with, and I know the conversations I’ve had with God. I know the times I plead before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and mercy. He’s been gracious towards me. Yet I know the times where somebody does a little thing to me, and they get a harsh response. Or I hold a grudge in my heart, or I start to treat them differently. I start to have contempt towards them instead of forgiveness. I lack the same gentleness that was given to me. I do not give it towards them. This is where we get labeled those things that we mentioned in the first post: arrogant, hypocritical, and judgmental, when we cease to be gentle with others, the same way that Christ has been gentle with us.
I love the story in the Gospel of Luke when a woman comes to the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:36-50). This is just such a great demonstration of his gentleness. At the feet of Jesus, she breaks open an alabaster box and she pours out oil on his feet and washes his feet with her hair. Everybody watching is thinking, “She is such a sinner. How dare she even try to get close to him!” Jesus’ response is so gentle, so loving, so gracious, and so caring. He says, “You’re right, I tell you, her sins are many. They have been forgiven. She has shown me much love, but a person who has been forgiven little, shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” So the idea here is that those of us who understand that we’ve been forgiven much will forgive much. Those of us who understand how gentle Christ has been with us, and how gracious he has been towards us, will then in return, be gracious towards others.