Sun. a.m. AGCC 7/30/2000

TEXT:      Gal. 5:23; Matt. 11:29-30; Num. 12:1-16


In a culture of rough-and-rugged individualism, gentleness is thought of as weakness, being soft, and virtually spineless. Not so! ... Biblical gentleness is strength under control, in fact, the Greek word translated in Gal. 5:23"Gentleness" came from a term that was used of a wild horse that had become obedient to the bit and bridle. It was therefore not the lack of power, but great power under the control of a master. Christianity is NOT for the weak! Being a Christian does NOT mean being soft spoken, weak, easily intimidated, it is strength under control of a master! Gentleness means finding a loving and kind way to do a tough job. It means a control over one's own life and situations in a way that allows kindness and compassion to show through. Gentleness is not afraid to do what is needed. ILLUS:Firing an employee is one of the toughest jobs a supervisor ever faces. An insurance sales manager was known for his tact and diplomacy. One of his young salesmen was performing so poorly that he had to be terminated. The manager called him in and said, "Son, I don't know how we're ever going to get along without you, but starting Monday we're going to try." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 472. PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us that Gentleness is Love's humility, strength under control this differs from the last element of the fruit of the spirit "self-control" in the sense that this quality is "God-controlled" rather than "self-control."

I. SECRET OF GENTLENESS       Matt. 11:29-30

A. Contact     11:29 1. Jesus tells us to take His YOKE upon us, to learn from Him because He IS GENTLE and HUMBLE in heart and if we do we will find REST for our souls! a. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." 11:29 b. What does this mean? c. It simply means to stop letting your own strength expressed through your fallen nature and submitting to the control of God in your life. 2. These yokes were double yokes, most Jews would "break in" a new ox by yoking them to a seasoned and fully developed ox. a. The seasoned ox would control by its shear strength the undisciplined ox. b. The new ox had no choice but to follow the mature ox around, the mature one led the way, did most of the work, and responded completely to the master. c. The new ox's work load was actually quite easy since the big ox was the one doing most of the work but it was training the new one in spite of all the resistance it gave at first. 3. Once yoked, the new ox had little choice if it wanted a life of peace if it constantly bucked it ended up sore and bruised and exhausted, for it was no match for the seasoned strong ox. a. How many Christians find their lives miserable? If they do it is because they are bucking against God's leading in their life and they are fighting against God's strength you can't win doing this! b. Rest came from working WITH the seasoned ox and it also meant a light burden since the seasoned ox did most of the work. 4. The seasoned ox did not kick or bite the new ox, it just kept going in the right direction. a. The seasoned ox has no need to draw attention to himself, he just humbly does his work. b. One of the clear qualities of a Spirit filled gentle Christian is humility! ILLUS:Nearing his journey's end, Calvin gave strict instructions that he be buried in the common cemetery with no tombstone. He wished to give no encouragement to those who might make it a Protestant shrine. Today, his grave site is unknown. -- "John Calvin," Christian History, no. 12. B. Conditioning     11:30 1. When Jesus says here, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." He is not saying it is easy being a Christian but that it is easy on us when we don't fight Him as a Christian! a. His burden is light and the yoke is easy when we submit to His control in our lives. b. When we fight it is just the opposite! 2. In fact, fighting God only makes us weaker because it will drain our strength, but submitting means developing strength by following Him. 3. The obedient person is not perfect, just smart! ILLUS:Strong people make as many and as ghastly mistakes as weak people. The difference is that strong people admit them, laugh at them, learn from them. That is how they become strong. -- Richard J. Needham, Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 1. 4. Obeying Christ appears to the world as a weak way to live, and yet it is just the opposite! Living for Christ by obeying His commands makes people of the world uncomfortable because it means yielding up control of one's life, our culture sees this as a weakness, but it is precisely this yielding that allows us to do things the world cannot do! a. Such as keeping our passions under control b. Such as forgive others! ILLUS:What is true of individuals is true of nations. One cannot forgive too much. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. -- Mahatma Gandhi in Ghandi. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 12. c. The natural man does not forgive easily! The spiritual person DOES forgive for he or she is enabled to forgive others because they themselves have been forgiven! 5. Our burden is light because Christ has showed us the way and given us the strength to make the journey, He is conditioning us by His Holy Spirit to be like Him! II. STRENGTH OF GENTLENESS       Num. 12:1-16 A. Control     12:1-9 1. Moses found himself in a difficult situation his own brother and sister turned on him! a. How often do Christians find themselves in situations where their own brothers and sisters in Christ become jealous and turn on them? b. No doubt it was a case of jealousy! 2. They used his marriage to a non Jew as the point of their attack often jealous people will use things against us that are really NOT the issue! a. They felt they were used by God too in great ways so why was Moses top dog? b. It is interesting to note that GOD heard their gripes God hears our gripes about others, and HE isn't pleased! c."Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this." 3. Miriam and Aaron were out of control! 4. God however sees Moses as one who is under control God says Moses is "very humble, more humble than anyone else on the face of the Earth." a. The concept here in Hebrew is the same as "Gentleness" in Gal. 5:23. b. Moses demonstrates his humility in the face of jealous accusations, he says nothing! A humble believer doesn't feel the need to rail against his critics, he is under control it is the natural man that speaks great boasts! ILLUS:Muhammad Ali was in his prime, and as he was about to take off on an airplane flight, the stewardess reminded him to fasten his seat belt. He came back brashly, "Superman don't need no seat belt." The stewardess quickly came back, "Superman don't need no airplane, either." Ali fastened his belt. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 295. 5. God stepped in to defend Moses, Moses felt no need to do so himself. a. All 3 are summoned by God to appear at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting right before God's presence! b. God called Aaron and Miriam to step forward without Moses. c. God shares with them how He is willing to use them as prophetess and priest by speaking to them via visions and dreams, but with Moses He talks face to face as one friend to another! d. Their out of control attitude toward another servant of God's cost them humiliation and pain, pride comes before a fall! (1. The Spirit of God withdraws from them for the moment " and He left them." (2. Miriam is struck with leprosy! Aaron was probably spared because as High priest he was not allowed to have any physical imperfections since he represented Christ as high priest but he is certainly humiliated in the eyes of Israel in all this. 6. Moses shines as an example here of one who even though offended has a different way of dealing with it, the natural man would strike back, the spiritual man is under control and gets things done with a gentleness that is only God breathed! ILLUS:Booker T. Washington arrived in a city to make a speech. His train was late and he was in a hurry. He dashed out of the station to the cabstand, but the cabby growled, "I don't drive niggers." Washington said, "All right, I'll drive you. Get in the back." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 207. B. Compassionate     12:10-16 1. If Moses had responded in the natural he might have yelled, "HA, serves you both right, see if you give me a hard time again!" a. Aaron immediately responds by crying out to Moses for compassion! b. No doubt Miriam must have looked toward her brother Moses too for help! 2. Moses immediately cries out to God to heal his sister! What an act of "Gentleness!" a. Rather than take delight in their suffering Moses cries out for them to be restored. b. Moses is not thinking of himself, only the well being on Aaron and Miriam and their ministry within Israel. c. This is the quality of "gentleness" at work, the obvious work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Moses. 3. No doubt this act of love and compassion on Moses' part had a great impact on his relationship with Miriam and Aaron following this, an act of love and kindness can dramatically change even the hardest soul! ILLUS:A woman was suffering from depression, so her concerned husband took her to a psychiatrist. The doctor listened to the couple talk about their relationships, and then said, "The treatment I prescribe is really quite simple." With that he went over to the man's wife, gathered her up in his arms, and gave her a big kiss. He then stepped back and looked at the woman's glowing face and broad smile. Turning to the woman's husband, he said, "See! That's all she needs to put new life back into her." Expressionless, the husband said, "OK, Doc, I can bring her in on Tuesdays and Thursdays." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 334. 4. Miriam is required to stay "unclean" the prescribed 7 days outside the camp (see Lev. 14:9) before she is allowed to return. a. Moses' love for her and her healing as well as Israel's love by stopping and waiting for her full return was an act of gentleness consistent with the quality of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. b. Gentleness and graciousness is the expression of a strong individual, one is controlled by God rather than their own passions and desires. c. Moses' ability to forgive and even restore his jealous sister is testimony to what God had said about him, that he was indeed the meekest ("gentle" or "humble") man in all the Earth. 5. No wonder Jesus said in the beatitudes, Mat 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." a. Meekness or gentleness is a quality that cannot be absent from a Spirit filled Christian. b. It is what allows us to conquer the world for it is strength under control - God's control! c. The next quality "self-control" is what allows us to conquer ourselves, but this quality of "gentleness" lets us conquer the world! 6. Are you truly a "gentleman" or a "gentlewoman"! a. The term "gentleman" no doubt came from the idea of a strong controlled male who is humble and gentle, a biblical foundation for such a term. b. God give us Christians whose lives demonstrate the quality of gentleness! Be filled with the Spirit! CONCLUSION:    "Gentleness" in our culture suggests "soft, easy going, almost weak!" This quality however is anything but weak! The Greek word translated "Meek" or "Gentleness" is found also in the beatitudes, "Blessed are the meek" and Jesus said that such "meek" people will "inherit the Earth" and in the passage of the fruit of the Spirit the same word is used and translated "gentleness." It literally meant a wild horse that had become obedient to the bit and bridle. In other words, strength under control!