Written by Dawn Rutan
I’ve been enjoying Alistair Begg’s recent series on the Fruit of the Spirit on Truth for Life, and appreciated his reminder that we cannot manufacture real fruit on our own. It is not the fruit of self-effort, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us and with us and through us. The sermon on gentleness in particular caught my attention as he talked about the gentleness of God and its manifestation in the life of Christ. As I searched later, I came up with a few relevant verses:
- “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
- “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench” (Matt. 12:20a and Isaiah 42:3).
- “He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 20:11).
One of the opportune times to exercise gentleness is in response to sin: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1a). As I was thinking about that, it occurred to me that sometimes it’s easier to respond to others with gentleness than it is to be gentle with ourselves when we fail. Charles Simeon wrote,
“I have continually had such a sense of my sinfulness as would sink me into utter despair, if I had not an assured view of the sufficiency and willingness of Christ to save me to the uttermost. And at the same time I had such a sense of my acceptance through Christ as would overset my little bark, if I had no ballast at the bottom sufficient to sink a vessel of no ordinary size” (as quoted by John Piper in The Roots of Endurance, 107).
I can’t speak for him, but I find it far easier to remember my sinfulness than God’s forgiveness. I’ve come to think of shame as a “guilt ghost.” It is a spectre that lingers long after the offense is forgiven. It has no real power, but it deludes me into thinking more about my sin than my Savior. So I often need a reminder of the gentleness that God shows to His children. His desire is to draw us close, carry us, provide sustenance and rest, teach us, and lead us. Yet we keep wriggling away and trying to prove our worth rather than trusting Him.
I like the way David Phelps phrased it in his song “Gentle Savior”
Why can’t I walk away from my regrets,
And why is forgiveness so hard to accept?
My past surrounds me like a house I can’t afford,
But You say, “Come with Me, don’t live there anymore”
May God gently draw our eyes back to Him each day so that we may be assured of His love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Jesus indeed is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep and who continues to care for each one.
“Because you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life” (Isaiah 43:4).
© 2017 Dawn Rutan. The views stated may or may not reflect the beliefs of the pastor or leadership of Dulin’s Grove Church.