“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
~Matthew 11:29 (NIV).
This is indeed a word we all need to hear; the various ‘clothing of love’ that Paul presents us with in Colossians 3:12-14 deals with such emotionally palpable and placating qualities—qualities that go before our staunch pride and break down our resistance to hear the Lord of life.
Love like this makes utter sense to us; it always has and it always will. It connects with our deeper hearts.
Although we read some passages in the gospels where Jesus was heard rebuking the religious leaders, and was perhaps hardly being ‘gentle’ at all with them, Jesus was remarkably gentle with those ailing and needy persons—the ones truly in need of him the most.
Think of the gentleness of Jesus as children came into his midst. He protected them as he sternly said to the disciples, “do not hinder them...” (Matthew 19:14).
In gentleness comes the Saviour; it is gentleness afforded out of protection.
The quality of this gentleness of Jesus’ often seems to be linked with humility and meekness (2 Corinthians 10:1; Ephesians 4:2). These two concepts are known for their patient (though not cowardly) submissiveness in the presence of trouble and strife. This submissiveness doesn’t fight reality—it works with, and resiliently for, reality. This submissiveness is actually a patient strength.
When we take on our Jesus-belief and we truly choose to lean on him—taking his oxen’s “yoke” upon us—we quickly find Jesus’ strength of protection is layered upon the very sinews of gentleness and meekness... that is to align with us in our struggle—indeed, to struggle with us.
We picture here the Jesus of the cross—the one who goes to his death to save us and the one who bears much offence to realise for us what we cannot otherwise do.
The cross of Jesus Christ reeks God’s—and this man Jesus’—gentleness to humankind; that he suffered without malice or desire for revenge. There’s real strength in that!
There’s Strength in Gentleness
Like for a good many things, Jesus flips the traditional or worldly meaning of things.
Jesus brings dignity and value to traits like meekness and gentleness, those the world is known to occasionally detest, for they’re not getting the worldly person anywhere—in practical terms—in the competition that life’s become. (Or so the world thinks.)
In gentleness, Jesus’ modus operandi and our mandate are different to that of the world.
Through gentleness Jesus avails his Spirit to us. And in gentleness we receive and so we act—to a world crying out for gentleness. This gentleness comes out of the forerunner, the big brother, which is to serve and to protect—the role of advocacy—then, out of this, comes the opportunity for Jesus’ gentleness to be made known, even through us.
(This was the fourth article of a five-part series to look at the ‘clothing of love’ so far as Jesus is concerned out of Colossians 3:12-14. The first was on Jesus’ compassion and the second was on Jesus’ kindness. The third focused on Jesus’ humility. The final article in the series will look at Jesus’ patience.)
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.