correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, [2 timothy 2:25]
there was a commercial on tv when i was young where two little kids are sitting in their living room mindlessly staring at the tv and the garbage man comes into the living room, lifts up the top of the tv, pours in a bunch of garbage, and says something like, “that should do it for another week or so.” the point is obviously that the kids are wasting away in front of the tv watching a bunch of garbage. garbage in, garbage out, so to speak. which is ironic since it was a commercial on tv.
gentleness is listed as the fruit of the Spirit by paul in galatians chapter five. paul’s point in that passage is to say that a believer in Christ will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit – part of which is displaying gentleness. it’s easy to be gentle when you’re holding a two week old baby, or putting a bandaid on your eight year old’s skinned knee, or directing a baby bunny back into the outside world instead of inside your garage (like i was last week…). but when someone is screaming at you for cutting in line at the grocery store and you didn’t even realize there was a line…when someone within the church disagrees with your politics…when someone tells you Jesus isn’t real and you’re a fool for believing in him…would bystanders to those situations characterize your reaction as gentle? would you?
we respond to opponents with gentleness with the hope that (if they are in sin) God would grant them repentance and bring them to an understanding of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. but if we don’t really hope that person finds forgiveness then our likeliness of responding gently goes way down. do you find yourself displaying gentleness with ease? or is it far from your default reaction when someone challenges you?
how do we increase our desire for our opponents to experience forgiveness? by recognizing that we too were once opponents of God, “for if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” [romans 5:10] and by experiencing forgiveness ourselves in the presence of God.
garbage in, garbage out. but sitting in the presence of God the father, and experiencing forgiveness because of the work of Jesus the son… filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is what comes out.
~ keith kozlowski