Read a well-known verse this morning, but honestly, with unexpected consequences. Started to breeze through a familiar “command to obey,” but encountered a living and active sword along the way. One word. That’s all it was, one word. And it struck deep. In a micro-second, an encounter of the divine kind, and the Spirit reveals the heart. Just one word I’m chewing on. Just one word causing me to pause, reflect, and assess.
That word? Gentleness.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
(Galatians 6:1 ESV)
One word, but the second time I’ve encountered it this morning in my readings. The other time it’s in a song sung by David praising the LORD for faithfully delivering David from his enemies.
You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your gentleness made me great.
(2Samuel 22:36 ESV)
I took note of verse 36 as I read in 2 Samuel and thought talking of God’s gentleness here seemed kind of out of place. But I really think the Spirit used the 2 Samuel reading to aim the arrow, and then let it find its target when I read Galatians 6:1. Bullseye!
God’s gentleness, David sings, is what made the king great. The gentleness of God delivered David. God’s humility rescued him from his strong enemy. The meekness of God drew David out of many waters. But God’s gentleness is juxtaposed with His awesome might and power. Smoke going “up from His nostrils and devouring fire from His mouth”, as His anger towards those who opposed His anointed caused the earth to reel and rock and the foundations of the heavens to tremble (22:8-9). Evidently, meekness shouldn’t be confused with weakness.
But God’s gentleness, His humility, is evidenced in His willingness to “bow the heavens” and “come down” (22:10). Oh, to be sure, to come down in might and power, bringing great deliverance, but to “come down” — in a sense to humble Himself — nevertheless. The God enthroned in heaven could have sent any from His mighty host to attend to matters on earth, but for David, God Himself would come down and bring salvation. His gentleness compelling Him to draw alongside and make much of His servant, David.
And so, brothers and sisters, if anyone is battling their own enemies, you who are spiritual should “come down” too. And, in your power, serve to restore him, but to do so in a spirit of gentleness, as well. Aware of your own frailty and propensity towards temptation, engaging with a brother or a sister with mildness and meekness, that they too would be delivered from their oppressor.
And I’m there. As God leads, willing to engage. Willing to draw alongside to help restore another. But challenged, as I examine my own heart. Confessing that not always have I done so “in a spirit of gentleness.” Lacking humility. Bypassing meekness. Too prone to take a “Suck it up, buttercup!” approach.
A spirit of gentleness. Evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). Needing, I think, to be more evidenced in and through me.
More like the God who came down to rescue David. More like the Son of God who, with humility and meekness, Himself came down to deliver me.
By His grace. For His glory.