There seems to be no relief. Our world has slipped into a persistent agitated state. Perhaps you see it in local and world events, or even your own life. People are agitated, angry and fed up. Our politics are agitated, our race relations are agitated, our international relations are agitated and all that agitation is taking its toll. We are more bold to be publicly critical of others and attack “the other side.” We let our anger rise to the surface and lose our inhibitions in a sea of indignation. We as Christians are easily caught in this societal tidal wave, justifying our acts of agitation by the very scriptures that encourage us to temper them.
Or, have we forgotten:
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 (ESV)
If you know me, you know that I love Jesus’ beatitudes in Matthew. In them, Jesus shows us the narrow way behind him as we grow deeper in faith and love toward him and others. The other way is wide and easy, filled with self-satisfied customers, but leads to death. The narrow way is the gentle way, the challenging way that leads to life, filled with self-sacrificing followers. (Mat. 7:13-14)
What I love about this particular beatitude is the word “meek.” In the original Greek language we could also translate the word as “gentle.” It makes me think of situations where we are naturally gentle, like holding a baby. Do you want someone who is agitated holding your baby? Rushing from here to there? Angry at every excrement? No. Their agitation may cause them to resent the baby, harm the baby or forget them altogether. We want someone gentle to hold our baby, someone who will listen for the different cries, focus on the baby’s needs over their own and give good things to the baby, even when it’s unappreciated.
Jesus calls us to embrace gentleness.
So long as sin is in the world and the devil has a foothold, there will be plenty of people for us to disagree with. There’s always room for more in the shouting match, but let’s consider the alternative. Let’s embrace a disposition of gentleness and think first of the needs of those who disagree with us. Consider the possibility that there may be wrong on both sides. Think of the good things God created all of us to do, things that may not be expressed unless someone takes the time to gently bring that out of us. Think of how you would want to be treated by someone who disagreed with you. Then, listen to them. Learn from them. Speak the truth in love. Be gentle and respectful. Love them as much as you love your position on the issue. Reconcile.
“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (GW)