Gentleness and Self-Control
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Matthew 5:44-48 (NIV)
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”
– Matthew 25:36-40 (The Message)
Jesus challenges his followers to radical compassion and radical love. These are some of the most unfair verses of scripture, but they are unequivocally good. We are being called to extend mercy and generosity to others, not based upon what they deserve, but based upon what is right before our God.
Nearly every news story today is reason for concern. So many things we hear and read may cause us to become angry, jaded, and bitter towards the world. Sometimes the opinions or actions of others lead us to be frustrated and to seek some avenue for lashing out.
But the Fruit of the Spirit we find this week, gentleness and self-control, urge us to take another approach. We must manage our emotions so that we do not miss opportunities to love others and serve the least of these. A gentle approach, rather than anger, was the method by which Jesus changed the world. And we can too.
~Pastor Mike Middaugh