This week's memory verse:
"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
One day last week, I wrote that Jesus was our ultimate example of compassion. Well, this week, I want to talk about how Jesus is also our ultimate example of gentleness. The Jews of that time were looking for a powerful Messiah who would save them from Roman rule and would be a mighty king of the Jews. Jesus had the POWER to be that king...he was from God, so he really could do anything he wanted. But, he chose to teach the Jews, and us as well how to live this life the way God wants us to. He taught through stories and lessons that people could relate to and understand, most of the time. He chose to act in gentle ways and teach us gentle ways.
In Matthew 18:1-4, the disciples were talking and asked Jesus who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I get upset with the disciples sometimes, because they always seemed to be worried about who was greatest, who was loved more...etc. But I see that we are like that a lot of times, aren't we? We struggle to work our way up the ranks in our jobs, we want to be the best at what we do, we want to be the best mother, father, friend, etc. and many times we get so hung up on those things, we miss the point. Jesus knew that then and told his disciples that they needed to go back to the beginning...to their simple faith...as simple as a child...a child loves without conditions...a child isn't as concerned with who's the best...a child sees things in their basic forms. Jesus wants us to get rid of the complicated stuff and love and have faith like a child.
Jesus then went on to teach the disciples more about this gentle way of living, through stories. Again, as I said last week, Jesus liked to think of himself as a shepherd, taking care of his sheep. He spoke about a shepherd being very concerned about one of his 100 sheep being lost. He would leave the 99 and go looking for the one...In this way, the shepherd is portrayed as caring and gentle and having a lot of tenacity to keep searching for that one until it was found. Jesus said the father is the same way...God is not willing to lose even one believer, and will go after one who is lost. That story gives me comfort in knowing that God cared enough about me to go after me, and it is a guide for me as well, that I shouldn't give up on people either.
Many of Jesus' stories are related to the golden rule, another gentle guide to life. Think about how you would want to be treated in a situation, and treat others that way. How many of us really live that way in all situations? I strive to, but miss the mark more times than I would like.
I want you to think about times in your life when you could have been more gentle in the way you handled a conflict or a problem with someone else. If you handled it in a gentle way, think about WHY you did. If you didn't, how could you have handled it differently? We shouldn't live our lives looking back and regretting past mistakes, but sometimes looking back and learning from those situations helps us do better in the future.
Dear God, sometimes I can be difficult and not very gentle. Help me to keep the power I have in control so others can be blessed. Help me and my friends to learn to live a gentle life by learning from the lessons Jesus taught us. Amen