Friday, January 8th Galatians 5:22-26

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Many years ago I read a book that talked about the need for husbands and fathers to have an “iron fist” in a “velvet glove.” Even as I type those words I cringe (too many children have suffered at the hands of fathers with iron fists) but “spare the rod, spoil the child” was not the point that the author was making. Instead, he was arguing for the careful balance of strength and restraint, of boundaries and unconditional love.

He was making an argument for gentleness.

Sometimes I picture Jesus kneeling quietly beside the bed of a little girl, gently speaking the words, “Talitha cum”, and helping her sit up. I see the look of shock on the faces of her parents, the uncontained joy at the healing of their daughter, and even the wonder in Jesus’ face at the power of God’s healing love.

I see Jesus surrounded by children, taking one little boy onto his knee. I hear his voice promising the woman at the well living water even as he speaks of her reality without judgment or scorn. I hear him say “Peace be with you” as he enters that upper room where his disciples are hiding out.

When I picture Jesus, I see gentleness.

Sometimes I see Jesus entering the muddy waters of the Jordan just like everybody else there to be baptized by John that day. That scene always merges with the voices of the scornful who traveled just as far as everybody else, but they were there to make fun of those who were buying what John was selling. Jesus never let scorn stop him. That is strength.

I see Jesus arguing toe to toe with the religious leaders who questioned his pedigree and his authority, even to the point of suggesting he was an agent of Satan. Jesus never backed down. I see him courageously preaching a troubling message in his hometown synagogue, one that almost got him thrown off a cliff. That is strength.

Turning over the tables in the temple, standing silently in the face of the accusing voices of a disappointed crowd, offering forgiveness as his body was torn apart and suffocating on the cross. That is strength.

Paul suggests that living and being guided by the Holy Spirit in our lives opens us to the possibility of also being filled by the gifts of the Spirit. Among those gifts are gentleness – I’m suggesting here that strength is also a form of gentleness. Just as gentleness implies a measure of restraint so too does strength. The strength that Jesus showed came only from restraining his own impulses and temptations to take the easy way out, to be diverted from his godly purpose.

What links gentleness and strength is self control. Again I remember the voices I have heard in the recovery movement – “Pause when agitated.” That is a key to exercising self control.

Slow down and think. Be proactive rather than reactive. Consider the consequences of what we think, say and do. Think long term rather than short term. Be guided by love rather than vengeance. Seek the power of God and live in the Spirit. Do what is right, not only what seems right.

Be gentle, not only with others, but also with ourselves. Being conceited, competing against one another, envying one another – all of those are external projections of our own failure to be gentle with ourselves. We are blessed children of God, loved eternally by God, filled with the Spirit of God’s love. Enjoy that and live out of it.

2010 can be a great year, come what may, when we seek to live in these gifts: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, time belongs to you and we belong to you. We are entering a new year together. Help us make the most of the time that you give us. Conform us to the image of your Son. Fill us with the gifts of your Spirit. Use us as you will, always to your glory and the welfare of your people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

3 Responses to “Friday, January 8th Galatians 5:22-26”

  1. Sharon Williams Says:

    Two days in a row your daily devotion is “right on,” I re-read, copied, pasted and printed things to have something right near my desk to read. Like … “..We surrender our striving and are filled with a love we neither deserve nor understand…” I really f e l t the prayer we shared. Thank you : ) Today I also read more of St.Mark chapter 5.

  2. Dean Myers Says:

    This week’s meditations have been very fine; today’s (Friday’s) particularly spoke to me. Thank you, Pastor!

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