Crossroads Church
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Crossroads Church
People on mission with God
www.crossroadschurchcma.org
175 County Road 78, Middletown NY 10940
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Digging Deeper

DIGGING DEEPER ON GENTLENESS


Posted: 6/9/2013

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3)

Opening Illustration: World War II General Douglas MacArthur wrote this prayer for his son. He prayed:

“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid. One who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

“Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds—a son who will know Thee, who is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.

“Here let him learn to stand up to the storm. Here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men, one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

“And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor so that he may always be serious but never take himself too seriously. Give him humility so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, and an open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength. Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, `I have not lived in vain.’”

What Is Gentleness?

FIn order to define gentleness, we must go back once again to our key text for this series, Galatians 5:22-23.  The meaning of the word gentleness in this passage is: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.  The literal translation of gentleness is meekness.  That is how it is written in the King James Version of the Bible.  For our purposes today, we will be using meekness and gentleness interchangeably.

Meekness is the opposite of self-seeking.  It does not mean that a person is weak.  In fact, it is power under control.  In the two passages listed below, we are going to see the difference in being self-seeking, and in being gentle.

Read the Scripture:

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.  Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside Him.  Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me.  For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”  (Luke 9:46-48)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!  (Philippians 2:5-8)

To Discuss:

  • What were the disciples arguing about in Luke 9:46-48?
  • What does this argument reveal about their hearts?
  • How did Jesus address their pride?
  • Why do you think Jesus used a child in His example?
  • What does this example teach you about the character of God?
  • How does Philippians 2 describe Christ’s attitude?
  • How does Christ’s incarnation illustrate meekness?
  • How can we as believers humble ourselves?

Plastic Fruit

Have you ever done it?  You see a beautiful bowl of fruit and you wonder… is that real fruit?  You can’t tell from looking at it.  It looks so good it must be fake.  So eventually you break down and touch it to find out.

There is some plastic fruit out there disguising itself as meekness.  It can take on several different forms.  One of the most dangerous forms it takes, and unfortunately quite common today, is a refusal to stand for anything.  This false meekness avoids trouble at the cost of allowing even greater trouble to develop.  Being meek does not mean that you will never take a stand for what is right.  It does mean that you will humbly consider what is best for others and firmly take a stand when need be.

In current culture the Church has gotten the real fruit of meekness and its counterfeit confused.  In an attempt to “not offend” anyone, many so-called Christians will tolerate almost anything and refuse to stand firmly on God’s Word.  This refusal does not make one meek; it makes him a coward.  We must boldly live out God’s truth… and we must do it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Read the Scripture:

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God.  On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:1-2)

Note:  The word renounced in this passage means: speak out; declare; forbid; give up

To Discuss:

  • How does meekness differ from tolerance?
  • How is the Word of God distorted, even among believers, today?
  • What has been the effect of this distortion of truth?
  • How can we gently “set forth the truth of God plainly”?

Gentleness From Within:

The fruit of gentleness must come from within.  It will only flow from a humble heart.  Pride and meekness cannot exist together.  So, how do our hearts become humble, so that gentleness will spring forth?  Meekness will come when we see ourselves the way God sees us.  We will spend the rest of the lesson on this subject.

How does God see His children?  The answer to this question is crucial to living the life that God intends for every believer.  When we see ourselves the way God does, meekness will follow.  This estimate of ourselves must come from Scripture.

We are the Created, Not the Creator:

Understanding this truth guards against self-centeredness and pride.  The world does not revolve around our wants and needs.  Life is not all about us.  God created us for His glory, purposes and pleasure.  We exist to serve Him, not the other way around.

Read the Scripture:

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd (vessel) among the potsherds (vessels) on the ground.  Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?”  Does your work say, “He has no hands?”  Woe to him who says to his father, “What have you begotten?” Or to his mother, “What have you brought to birth?”  This is what the LORD says—the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: “Concerning things to come, do you question Me about My children, or give Me orders about the work of My hands?  It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.  My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.”  (Isa 45:9-12)

Bring My sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by My Name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:6b-7)

He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:15-16)

To Discuss:

  • What do these passages teach about God?
  • What do they teach about man?
  • What is the purpose of all created things?
  • Does this include mankind?  Why or why not?
  • How would understanding the truths in these passages produce meekness in your life?

We Are Sinners Who Have Been Saved:

Before Christ saves us, we are dead in our trespasses and sins.  We are lost and without hope, alienated from God and His covenant.  But God, in His mercy, has chosen to save us by grace, through faith.  This moves us from death to life, from alien to son, from enemy to friend.  Our position through grace is an exalted one, unless we let it go to our heads.  Grace teaches us gentleness if we remember what we really deserve.

Read the Scripture:

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  (Ephesians 2:12-13)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  (Ephesians 2:1-5)

To Discuss:

  • How do these verses describe us before salvation?
  • What is our position in Christ?
  • Should this new position cause pride?  Why or why not?
  • How does understanding these passages bring meekness?

We Are Incapable of Good Apart From God:

Anyone can meet the world’s definition of “good.”  Often as Christians, we settle for this level of “goodness” in our lives and feel proud that we have attained it.  But the goodness that God requires is something different entirely; and it is humbling to realize how incapable we are of achieving it.

Read the Scripture:

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.  (Rom. 3:10-12)

Just as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 

(1 Peter 1:15-16)

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

To Discuss:

  • According to the passage in 1 Peter 1, what is God’s standard of goodness?
  • What do these passages teach us about our ability to meet that standard?
  • How does understanding this produce meekness in our lives?

We Are Saved for a Purpose:

As we saw above, God created us for His glory.  Our sin separated us from God.  When God saves us, we are once again able to bring glory to Him.  Most of us think that God saved us because He loves us.  While it is absolutely true that God loves us, this is not the sole reason He saves us.  If so, would He not save everyone, since He loves everyone?  God saves us for His purposes, and for His pleasure.  He saves us for His glory…and what could be more loving than for Him to give us Himself?

Read the Scripture:

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name.  (John 15:16)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave Me something eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink.  I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.”  Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?”  The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”  (Matthew 25:34-40)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  (James 1:27)

To Discuss:

  • Based on these passages, what is God’s purpose for the lives of those He has redeemed?
  • Do you think most believers view their lives and their salvation this way?  Discuss your answer.
  • How does understanding the purpose of our salvation lead to meekness?
  • As believers, what does gentleness look like in our lives?
  • How does it change the way we treat others?

Closing:

It is true that God created and saves mankind for His own glory and purposes.  It is also true, however, that all people are precious and valued in His sight.  Every life He creates is done so intricately and purposefully.  Psalm 139 says He knits each life together in its mother’s womb… eah is fearfully and wonderfully made.  God values human life above all else that He has created.

Read the Scripture:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  (Matthew 6:26)

Any why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  (Matthew 6:28-30)

If you were given a one-of-a-kind fragile piece of art that was worth millions of dollars and was irreplaceable, would you not handle it with great care and gentleness?  Human life is so much more valuable and precious.  How valuable, you ask?  It can only be valued by the price tag God placed on it.  The price God paid was His only Son.  We must remember this the next time we are tempted to treat someone roughly.

We must remember what God has done for us, and why He has done it.  It is our honor and privilege to serve Him by loving others.  When we truly believe this, it will produce meekness in our lives.  It will change the way we live.  And most importantly, it will show the world the greatness of our God.

Close your time together in praise to God.  Allow the group to share their thankfulness to God for who He is in their live