November 05, 2006

Are You Gentle?

Matthew 11:25-30

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5


We might picture a meek person as someone who is "overly submissive and spiritless," as one dictionary puts it. But the Bible shows that the Greek word for "meek" in Matthew 5:5 can also mean "gentle," as in our reading for today. There Jesus describes himself as "gentle and humble in heart," providing rest for weary souls. So meekness is not weakness. It is rather a gentleness shown by one who is strong.

In the novel Les Miserables Victor Hugo teaches us about meekness. Jean Valjean, a poor laborer, has stolen a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving children. As a result, he spends 19 years in prison. Upon release, he is unable to find work. He comes to the home of a gentle bishop who gives him supper and a bed for the night. Yielding to temptation, Valjean steals some of the bishop's silver, runs away, and is soon caught and returned to the bishop. The bishop tells the arresting officer, who seeks justice without mercy, "Why, I gave these silver plates to him--and Jean, you forgot to take the silver candlestick." Amazed by such gentleness and kindness, Valjean becomes a Christian. A small deed of gentleness can turn a sinner to the Savior.

The Bible teaches, "If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Galatians 6:1). The meek, says Jesus, "will inherit the earth."

Lord, some of us need to be gentler. Free us from pride that often stands in our way, and give us a spirit of gentleness, we pray, in the name of our gentle, humble Savior. Amen.

About the author — Jerry Hoytema

Pastor Jerry Hoytema is a retired minister living in Ontario. In his retirement he has served several churches as an interim pastor. He and his wife, Winnie, have four children and 13 grandchildren.

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