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PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK REQUIRES GENTLENESS

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.    God sometimes requires His people to live in ways that are shockingly different and radically different from those in the world.

 

B.      Our study in this lesson involves one such behavior.  The title of our lesson is:  “Pressing toward the Mark Requires Gentleness.”

1.      II Timothy 2:24

 

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.

 

2.      Titus 3:2

 

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.

 

3.      Galatians 5:22-23

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:  against such there is no law.

 

C.     In this lesson, we will be doing four things:

1.      We will Define Gentleness.

2.      We will Denote Why Gentleness is Difficult.

3.      We will Display Examples of Gentleness from Scripture.

4.      We will Deepen Gentleness in Our Lives.

 

I.                   THE DEFINTION OF GENTLENESS

 

A.    There are three forms of the word “gentle” in the KJV.

1.      Gentle:  two Greek words are translated gentle

2.      Gentleness:  one Hebrew and two Greek words are translated gentleness

3.      Gently:  two Hebrew words are translated gently

 

B.      Here is a list of terms that define these words:  affable, mild, kind, appropriate, seemly, suitable, equitable, fair, condescension, modesty, meekness, clemency, useful, moral excellence, moral goodness, integrity, to move softly, softness, to lead with care

 

C.     Some pictures that show us the meaning of gentleness:

1.      A nurse who treats a wound

2.      The care one gives when holding an egg

3.      The strong hand of a father holding his newborn baby

 

II.                THE DIFFICULTY OF GENTLENESS

 

A.    The evils of this world

1.      I John 5:19

 

And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

 

2.      This wickedness has infected the hearts of mankind and often causes others to treat us in despicable, evil ways.

a.      Some of these people are our enemies (Ps. 38:19).

 

But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong:  and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

 

b.      Sometimes these individuals are our friends (Ps. 41:9).

 

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

 

3.      Their hatred along with its rudeness and harshness make it very difficult for us to express gentleness, mildness, and kindness.

 

B.      The emotions of man

1.      Anger is usually the emotion we feel when we are mistreated.

a.      Anger and gentleness do not seem to be partners that join hands and walk together.

b.      Anger is a beast that cries out in wicked ways (See Prov. 27:4).

 

Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous…

 

2.      Patience is also an attribute that is challenged by others.

a.      The attitudes, words, personalities, and behaviors of others sometimes step on “our very last nerve.”

b.      These individuals test our patience.  When our patience wears thin, the last thing we are concerned about is the suitableness of our response:  scream, curse, shout, stomp, slam doors, hit things…

c.       Example:  Saul was short with Jonathan (I Sam. 20:32-33a).

 

And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain?  What hath he done?  And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him…

 

C.     The eagerness to get even.

1.      When someone does us wrong, we want them to experience and feel what we have experienced and felt.

2.      Too, we have the mindset of “You owe me.”

3.      When David and his men asked payment for their protection of Nabal’s herds and herdsmen, and he refused to pay, David’s attitude was that of revenge (I Sam. 25:13).

 

And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword.  And they girded on every man his sword, and David also girded on his sword:  and there went up after David about four hundred men…

 

D.    Gentleness involves the emptying of oneself.

1.      Dealing with another person is a gentle way is a gift from us to them.

2.      We are giving something to that person and often we feel they do not deserve it.

3.      We do not want to empty ourselves for the benefit of another person.

4.      How did Philemon feel when he received Paul’s letter on behalf of Onesimus (See Phile. 12).

 

Whom I have sent again:  thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels.

 

E.      The exhibition of equity.

1.      When we are gentle all of the time, we can begin to think that it is not fair because others do not treat us the same way.

2.      When things are out-of-balance, we want to bring them into balance.  Thus, it is easy to withhold gentleness to make things equitable.

3.      I Peter 3:9

 

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing:  but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye were thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

 

III.             THE DISPLAY OF GENTLENESS

 

A.    Abraham showed gentleness to Lot during a period of strife between their herdsmen (Gen. 13:18-19).

 

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.  Is not the whole land before thee?  Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me:  if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

 

B.      Esau’s benevolent reception of Jacob (Gen. 33:4)

 

And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him:  and they wept.

 

C.     Paul with the new Christians in Thessalonica (I Thess. 2:7)

 

But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.

 

D.    Jesus

1.      Toward the woman taken in adultery (John 8:10-11)

 

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman where are those thine accusers?  Hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee:  go, and sin no more.

 

2.      Toward Peter (Luke 22:31-32)

 

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:  and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

 

3.      Toward His persecutors on the cross (Luke 23:34a)

 

Then said Jesus, Father, forgiven them; for they know not what they do.

 

IV.             THE DEEPENING OF GENTLENESS IN OUR LIVES

 

A.    We must be gentle with new Christians.

1.      New Christians struggle with little knowledge.

New Christians struggle with new behaviors.

New Christians struggle with old baggage.

New Christians struggle with new relationships.

2.      We must engage them with gentleness in both teaching and correcting (II Cor. 10:1).

 

Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.

 

B.      We must be gentle in our efforts to restore the erring (Gal. 6:1).

 

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

 

C.     We must be gentle in receiving a penitent person back into the fold (II Cor. 2:6-8).

 

Sufficient to such a man is the punishment, which was inflicted of many.  So that contrariwise, ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with over-much sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

 

D.    We should be gentle toward those with whom we have disagreements (Matt. 18:15).

 

Moreover if thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone:  if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

 

E.      With those who are angry and upset (Prov. 15:1).

 

A soft answer turneth away wrath:  but grievous words stir up anger.

 

F.      With our enemies (Matt. 5:44)

 

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.    We often pride ourselves in our ability to be bold, plain spoken, and having fire in our words.

 

B.      Perhaps we need to pride ourselves in our ability to be gentle with others.

 

C.     Our Lord was gentle (Matt. 11:29).

 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 

D.    May each of us seek to be like our Lord and “be gentle unto all men” (II Tim. 2:24).