Thursday, March 30, 2006

"the lost art of the Spirit"

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness” Gal. 5:22-23

I have a boy named Sam who is almost two years old. He is an adventurous little man with many interests and curiosities. He has all but relieved me of my previously held belief in his sinless, angelic nature and divine origin. I thought he was like the “Christ-child” but now I know he is more like the “Chris-child”. Needless to say, I am having to do some corrective work in his life. What I am learning about God’s life through him is what I want to share with you today.

The other night I gave him quite the “gentle spanking” that he most assuredly deserved. Judging from his moans, groans, and tears, I don’t think he believed it was gentle at all, but it truly was.

Which brings us to our next facet of God’s life-“Gentleness”. Early translations of the scripture use the word meekness. Meekness or gentleness has always been God’s preferred method of applying His strength or power. Gentleness in me is about the Godly application of power. Meekness is not weakness but strength under control. God’s life expressed through me is always gentle.

Jesus was meek and mild, but that does not mean he was a bearded woman or an effeminate man. He just simply knew who he was and what was needed in any given situation. He could look at you gently and weep or in meekness raise his voice and call you a hypocrite. It just depended on the context.

Paul, in dealing with back-stabbers, said, “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you.” I Cor. 10:1

Listen to how the Message paraphrase has it:

“I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ. I hear that I'm being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I'm with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. Please don't force me to take a hard line when I'm present with you. Don't think that I'll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I'm an unprincipled opportunist. Then they'll have to eat their words.” I Cor. 10: 1-2

Here is a man who is majorly ticked off! He is using strength not weakness. But he is using the appropriate amount needed for the respective situation.

When God’s life is in you, His mighty Spirit knows just the right amount of power or influence to bring to bear at any given moment. It is the difference between tylenol and morphine-a wild horse that needs breaking and one that is safe to ride. It’s the difference between a harsh shot of everclear or a fine glass of merlot. A tornado and a refreshing breeze. In an uncontrolled flash of anger, I can beat my son. Or I can catch my breath, remember love, ask for God’s strength, and give him an appropriate spanking using the correct amount of force on his little bottom. One breaks his rebellion, the other breaks his spirit. One leaves him hurt and closed off while the other corrects, but his spirit remains open. What is more, is that the same hand that spanks my son is also the one I use to hold him afterward and wipe his tears.

David was a mighty military man. And his language reflects it. Listen to what he said about God’s gentleness and its impact on his life:

“You have given me the shield of your salvation. Your right hand supports me; your gentleness has made me great.” Ps. 18:35

Shield-salvation-support-great-all military terms but gentleness? Yes God’s gentleness made him great!

By the way, God’s gentle approach works in all our relationships. I think it has become a lost art of the Spirit waiting to be rediscovered in our lives. Knowing how to respond and not react in any given moment or circumstance is definitely not science but a beautiful art. And only God’s Spirit can produce this kind of result in our lives. We look at that tomorrow.

I am excited about what we are going to learn about this over the next several days and in our weekend sevices. I believe that God’s gentleness is far more powerful to produce amazing results than what we might have understood. It is the hidden key to consistent influence in the lives of others. Let’s explore this together.


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