January 25, 2016

The Gentle and Humble God

Isaiah 40:1-11

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.

—  Matthew 11:28-29

In the early church a man named Marcion pitted the “God of the Old Testament” against Jesus, the “God of the New Testament.” He said that the Old Testament God was fierce and demanding and that the New Testament Jesus was merciful, loving, and gentle. The church rightly rejected that idea as a contradiction of the Bible’s teaching.

In recent times, the reverse has taken place. Among people who want rapid social change, the gentleness of Jesus is treated with scorn, as if he were a weakling, easily used by the corrupt establishment.

The Bible teaches that God is both. He is full of wrath against evil, unconvinced by lame excuses, demanding justice and goodness. At the same time he is gentle, humble, and mild toward all who become his disciples, because he empathizes “with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). He is the perfect Teacher for us, if we take his yoke on our shoulders to learn how to be godly.

We have a lot to learn from this God we worship, for we often tend to be angry when we should be gentle, and gentle when we should be fierce enemies of evil.

Teach us, Lord Jesus. Put your yoke on our shoulders, that we may learn from you. Help us to be gentle when situations call for it, and fierce to fight against evil. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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