Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of Chapter 1 — His Very Heart

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

This chapter is an extended reflection on Matthew 11:29, “I am gentle and lowly in heart.”

Personally, I noticed a clear connection between this verse and the title of Ortlund’s book. :wink:

In this chapter, Ortlund helpfully provides the Biblical understanding of our ‘hearts’. He writes:

One thing to get straight right from the start is that when the Bible speaks of the heart, whether Old Testament or New, it is not speaking of our emotional life only but of the central animating center of all we do. It is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what we daydream about as we drift off to sleep. It is our motivation headquarters. The heart, in biblical terms, is not part of who we are but the center of who we are. Our heart is what defines and directs us. That is why Solomon tells us to “keep [the] heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). The heart is a matter of life. It is what makes us the human being each of us is. The heart drives all we do. It is who we are.

And when Jesus tells us what animates him most deeply, what is most true of him—when he exposes the innermost recesses of his being—what we find there is: gentle and lowly.

Who could ever have thought up such a Savior?

As I consider Dane’s question, it strikes me that Christ’s character is an apologetic masterpiece!

First, his heart is attractive to all who understand it. To see Jesus as gentle and lowly is to begin to know him and worship him. His gentle heart meets our truest need. As Ortlund writes, “He doesn’t simply meet us at our place of need; he lives in our place of need.”

Second, when we know that he is gentle and lowly, we begin to become gentle and lowly ourselves. This presents a beautiful image of Jesus to others. As Ortlund writes later in the chapter:

Jesus himself made this clear in this very Gospel (Matt. 5:19–20; 18:8–9). His promise here in Matthew 11 is “rest for your souls,” not “rest for your bodies.” But all Christian toil flows from fellowship with a living Christ whose transcending, defining reality is: gentle and lowly. He astounds and sustains us with his endless kindness. Only as we walk ever deeper into this tender kindness can we live the Christian life as the New Testament calls us to. Only as we drink down the kindness of the heart of Christ will we leave in our wake, everywhere we go, the aroma of heaven, and die one day having startled the world with glimpses of a divine kindness too great to be boxed in by what we deserve.

Third, that Jesus says he is “gentle and lowly” stands in contrast to the critique that Christianity is mythology, mere human invention.

If the mythologizing tendency is to create a great God worthy of our awe and worship, then it is strange that the early Christians invented a God who claimed to be gentle and lowly!

Not only are we apt to think that God is great - not lowly - but we are also inclined to think that God is perfect - and therefore judgmental.

Ortlund brings forth a gem from Thomas Goodwin to challenge this intuition:

Men are apt to have contrary conceits of Christ, but he tells them his disposition there, by preventing such hard thoughts of him, to allure them unto him the more. We are apt to think that he, being so holy, is therefore of a severe and sour disposition against sinners, and not able to bear them. “No,” says he; “I am meek; gentleness is my nature and temper.”

Do you sense that Jesus is of a ‘severe and sour disposition’ towards you?

If so, know that Jesus desires to gently replace that defective view of himself, restore your spiritual eyesight, and show you his true heart.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe your own heart? Is it gentle and lowly?
  2. What makes it hard for you to believe that Jesus is gentle and lowly?
  3. What needs can you bring to Jesus today?
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These are wonderful thoughts of our Lord Jesus. Yet so easily misunderstood. Though “gentle and lowly” in heart, He is also very firm and resolute. There is no weakness in his gentleness or lowliness. He knows very well who He IS and doesn’t have to “show off” to make people realise it. He is the Lord of all in heaven, earth, and under the earth … and intriguingly, it is his gentle and lowly heart that displays it.

Here is Someone who will listen without condemnation, someone who doesn’t defend his prestige when being challenged, who is patient with our shortcomings, slow to irritation or anger, quick to support, encourage, and understand. A person you quickly realise you can confide in with full trust.

That’s quite the opposite to my heart’s attitude. I am quick to judge with a condemnatory tone, easily irritated by people who don’t get what I trying to say. I want to listen but find my mouth gets in the way.

I don’t find it difficult at all to see Jesus as gentle and lowly. There are so many stories in the Gospels of his treatment of people that illustrate it. This has been part of my image of him for most of my life … without really understanding its significance. It is slowly moving from my head to my heart, where I hope (and expect) that it will take root and bear fruit. Today, and every day, I need to learn to receive and pass on His love.

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I hate trying to fit these things into my lunch break! So much to say and so little time…

I picture Jesus like an ox after reading this chapter: gentle and lowly, but very big and strong. He is not someone you can push around. I loved Ortlund’s insight into the yoke. I did a word study of chrestos (the Greek word for “easy” in Matthew 11:30) and found that Jesus’s yoke is truly kind!

I have to go back to work. More later!

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The first question will be the hardest to put into words, because I find my heart full of shortcomings, yet, I have seen my growth through the years and find hope. Not hope in my ability but hope that comes through the companionship I have sought and continue to seek with my precious Lord. My heart is not what it was 30 plus years ago, but most definitely not what it should be in light of my Savior.
The second question, I am not sure I find it it hard to see His heart as gentle and lowly. And that has taken years of solitude and communion with Him to see these things. There is so much correlation of his relationship to us and ours to our children or what we wish of with our own parents. The ability to be gentle, yet chastise and discipline when needed (thinking of Hebrews). The rod of the shepherd to nudge us back to the pastures he has for us. His lowliness to come alongside the most broken, the most cast out, the most hurt, the most not wanted or most not loved. Those descriptive terms bring tears to my eyes, because who hasn’t felt lonely, cast out, unwanted, discarded, yet he is there to envelop and a wrap his arms around and love unconditionally and pull us back upon our feet and love us into our destiny with him.
What needs can I bring him today? That list is endless and not exhaustive. He knows and he cares intimately.

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OH and my favored quote from this chapter "That’s what we are all like, confessing Christ with our lips but generally avoiding deep fellowship with him, our of a muted understanding of his heart.

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1. How would you describe your own heart? Is it gentle and lowly?
My natural heart is not gentle and lowly. But thank God the Holy Spirit is replacing my natural heart with Jesus’ heart. As God opens my eyes and I come closer to Him I have become less hard. My sin use to be obvious to me and others that knew me, but now as the obvious sin patterns have been melted away by Jesus I see what is left behind. I am not who I was 5 years ago, but I am reminded of how much more work the Spirit has to do on me. And He is chipping away at myself and molding me into Jesus more and more. My prayer many days is Psalm 139:23,24:

Search me, oh God, and know my heart!
Test me and know my anxious thoughts!
See is there is in offense way in me and lead me in the way everlasting….

I had obvious addictions before but now I have thoughts that I must give to Jesus, I have children that I have to be patient with and more understanding, I have a wonderful wife that I am learning how to love and cherish like Jesus loves the church. Jesus is making me more humble since I submitting to allow Him to be God and not me in my life.

Is my heart gentle and lowly? When compared to Jesus not even close. But I am better then I use to be! I will never be fully like Jesus…but I am going to keep striving for His calling. “Be holy as I am holy”. When I focus on Jesus I start to be influenced more by Him than myself.

2. What makes it hard for you to believe that Jesus is gentle and lowly?
I think I have embraced it. I believe I trust Him implicitly. I am to the point in my life that I welcome His pruning. It use to be terrifying and at times it still is, but I have a deep trust that I know whatever Jesus calls me to surrender He is worth it. I know that He is gentle and patient. And He only asks because He knows it will bring me close to Him and that is where my heart wants to be.

3. What needs can you bring to Jesus today?
I want the body of Christ to be more like Him. That is what hurts my heart. If the body acted like Jesus this world would look a lot different. What can I do to help? Where is God moving? How do I join in? I want to love him with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength. I want to love my neighbor as myself. I give Jesus the body of Christ. I give him myself. I surrender all. What need do I have with Him by my side? I want to hear Him more. I read the bible and see how Elisha just moved in one accord with God. I want to be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that I do not falter. I want to abide in His love always.

I think the best combination of pictures for Jesus is the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God. Imagine a lion in your room before you. At any moment it could strike you and pounce on you. So you respect it and don’t provoke it but honor that what its power can render. ., “The Fear of the Lord”

Then you have the Lamb of God. A lamb seems soft and gentle. Innocent and something you can hold and care for. Especially compared to a lion! But Jesus is the image of both. Separate the images give a side but together they reveal more of the picture. Jesus is the Lamb of God who died for my sins. The bible calls Him brother, everlasting father, healer, comforter and He is the Lion of Judah which naturally should command out of us a deep respect for His character and power and majesty. I love Him. Jesus is my best friend and I am thankful that He has had mercy on me a sinner who use to trample His cross. He could have struck me out of this life a long time ago, but with me he has been gentle and lowly. He has shown me mercy and allows me to draw near. Even more so…I am part of the family. How amazing is that love.

See what great love He has lavished upon us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!!!

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The entire price of the book was worth it for one and a half sentences in this chapter.

This specific word lowly is generally translated “humble” in the New Testament, such as in James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” But typically throughout the New Testament this Greek word refers not to humility as a virtue but to humility in the sense of destitution or being thrust downward by life circumstance…

“Really?” I thought. “Then I fit!” I can finally see myself in the second half of that verse as one of the favored ones receiving God’s grace.

I had always interpreted humble here as the virtue, and I knew I hadn’t achieved. I’d read James 4:6 and think I needed to drum up enough humility to get God’s grace. But that’s not what God meant. He wants me to come to Him broken, even broken with my pride. His grace is enough.

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I can finally respond in more detail. I will answer the specific questions first, then review some highlights from the reading.

Not close. God has been teaching me to be gentler and more lowly in attitude, but I remain too harsh and proud. My heart wants to be gentle and lowly, though.

This used to be hard to believe, but I am convinced that Jesus is gentle and lowly because I want to become more of both. Why would I strive for that which he is not if I follow him?

I need to be more graceful and humble in my relationships. Jesus has brought me very far. I look back through the years and see how much he has changed me; but I have a long way to go. I have a number of work relationships that need building, including one with a person who I really like but have trouble figuring out how to interact without pressing the wrong buttons. Sometimes I feel like moving into a hermitage.

Several things stood out to me from the reading:

  1. Jesus calls himself “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29) the only time in all four gospels that he mentions his heart. This tells us how truly important this is.
  2. The heart is the “central animating center of all that we do” (p. 18), so we can conclude that Jesus is motivated by gentle feelings toward us with zero ego to get in the way. (Princes typically do not lower themselves to their subjects’ status. He mucked in the mud with us.)
  3. He does not point his finger, but opens his arms.
  4. Like the ox, he is not a pushover even though he is gentle and lowly. We mistake kindness for weakness. This is a false conclusion. Jesus is gentle to those of low status, but frequently harsh with those who care more about status than true righteousness. He fights the right battles in the right way.
  5. He brings rest for souls, but clearly not for bodies.
  6. As I noted above, his yoke is kind, although it is not easy in the sense that we commonly understand that term.
  7. A zinger:

A lot to process!

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Greetings to all, 7/8/2020
Question: How would I described my heart? Answer: Transformed! I must begin with a story. Several years ago, I was reading a book directed at men. Midway through the book the author was proposing that God has a pet name for each believer. As I was reading, I had a profound encounter with Jesus. It was early in the morning and I was kneeling beside my bed praying and what happened next, I can only describe as a vision. I saw Jesus standing in the horizon, just above the tree tops, as the son was rising. He motioned for me to come to him. I saw my spirit leave my body and go to him. He put his arm around my shoulder and looked into my eyes. I had a sense of profound strength, yet his eyes conveyed incredible love and tenderness. I asked him if he had a special name for me. He said, “I do. Mighty warrior, friend of God.” I was filled with love and awe for him, and poof, my spirit was back in my body. Several months later the author was hosting a conference that I attended. I went to the stage as he entered and quickly shared this story. As I spoke tears began to run down his cheeks. When I finished, he told me when he had his encounter with Jesus in the mountains of Colorado, Jesus gave him the same two names he gave me. He was very appreciative that I shared my story.
I read and re-read John 3:14-18. I meditated on these and many other related scriptures. I began to fall in love with Father, Son & Holy Spirit. I studied scriptures on God’s forgiveness, acceptance, and grace. Jesus is our defense attorney before the Father, I John 2:1. I realized that God loves me far more than I will ever know this side of Heaven. He declares believers righteous and accepted. All 21 verses of Romans 5 are so rich, then in chapter 8 we are told that there is no condemnation and nothing can separate the believer from the love of God. This is the “grace message” that has transformed my heart. My heart is filled with love for Jesus, and the last thing I want to do is sin. My heart is good. The author really nails this theme on page 18 when he sites Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” God’s heart for us is good, and his burden is light. Six years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had my arm around my wife’s shoulder as the doctor gave us the bad news. I heard the Holy Spirit say, “I’ve got this.” God was with us every step of the way through two months of radiation treatments. What does God want? He wants our heart, and when we surrender our hearts to him, he will do amazing things in our life. I am really enjoying this book, and it corroborates what I believe about Jesus. May God richly bless you in this study.

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Greetings Carson,
With regard to question #2, I have no difficulty believing that Jesus is gentle and lowly. He came knowing that he would give his life

to rescue the human race. He was incredibly gracious to sinners-even despised Samaritans; however, he was very displeased

with the religious leaders that hated him without cause. The creator of all things hung on a cross to rescue me. I have deep love

and respect for Jesus. I have embraced his promises that I am loved, forgiven, a joint heir, declared righteous, and that he is my

healer. Three years ago I had a severed tendon in my right hand. I had it surgically repaired, but the next day my hand spasmed

causing the repaired tendon to rupture. We asked a lot of people to pray. We took communion every day and prayed often for a

miracle. The damaged finger was in a splint and wrapped. Three days later my wife asked how my hand was. I unwrapped it to

find it totally healed. Several doctors witnessed this miracle. The damaged finger was totally limp, and after my healing my hand

functions as it should. Until covid-19 struck we had a large prison bible study, and we are team leaders for a weekly prison church

service averaging just over 100 inmates. To see the patient, kind and loving heart of Jesus toward these men is powerful. In our

two years in two prisons we have seen many come to faith in Jesus, and have witnessed him transform many lives, restore

relationships and heal the sick. The heart of Jesus toward those who humbly seek him, and desire to know him, is a heart of love,

grace, mercy, acceptance and blessing. Jesus stands and the door of our heart knocking; we must choose to invite him in. He is a

perfect gentleman, and will only enter upon invitation. May you be healthy and blessed.

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How would I describe my heart? As a general rule I think I am pretty gentle, but not in the same way that Jesus is gentle. Sometimes I find myself entering into another’s pain and quickly becoming overwhelmed with their difficulty. I am so glad Jesus isn’t like that. I am so grateful that not only is He willing to enter into my pain and brokenness and indeed take into Himself my sinfulness, but He is capable of bearing these things as well. He is so much more than sentimental.

Is my heart lowly? Not so much. I think I tend to think entirely too much about myself. I have heard it said that true humility is to neither think too highly nor too lowly of oneself, but rather to hardly think of oneself at all. I think that when considering stooping to rescue us, Jesus spent very little time focused on what cost it would be to Him to leave the glory of heaven to come for us, and conversely no time at all puffing Himself up because He was so magnanimous to come for us. I think His eyes were set squarely on the prize of having us as His own because He loves us that much!

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship or the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important that yourselves; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ~Philippians 2:1-8

I don’t find it hard to believe that Jesus is gentle and lowly! I love this book because it is causing me to slow down and ponder the depth of His gentleness and His lowliness. It is almost incomprehensible to grasp. And perhaps until we see Him face to face, and see up close all that He emptied Himself of to come for us, we will not fully appreciate it. But I want to try.

When I look at Him so intently, it seems the greatest thing that I need to bring to Him today is my willfull, self-focused heart. Oh how it needs to be changed! I want to look like Him. I want to respond to this world the way He responds to us. I am so far from this. But He has taken my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. Oh that it would beat ever stronger with the love of God!

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Thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of this amazing community and being able to read and discuss this book together.

I have grown up In the East and I have been living in the West for half of my life now.
If I was still in the East I could honestly tell you how Jesus’s Heart is so obviously different then mine and He is standing up from the rest of us and I could look at myself and honestly say that I have nothing good in me and that my heart is not gentle and lowly. My heart change was also not going not to
be mistaken for anything els.
In the West however I have learned to have good manners and I don’t know how much from what I have in my heart is cultural change and how much is God changing my heart from inside. However I definitely know that I belong to God and Jesus is my Savior and without Him my heart could never change. I know that I have a long way to go but in the same time I have seen so much change taken place in my heart and I praise God for it. I know it is real and I know that it is not me. On the outside I could appear gentle and lowly but on the inside God knows how much more work there is for me to have it. I maybe will never have it in this side of heaven but I strive for it anyways.

I don’t find it hart to believe that Jesus is gentle and lowly. But I sometimes believe that in certain situations He will not be gentle and lowly towards me. That is real struggle of mine.

I bring all my needs to Him. There is no one els.

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How would you describe your own heart? Is it gentle and lowly?

My own heart…
I would like to think it is gentle, especially toward others, but I don’t believe that’s always the case. I find myself being a harder judge of others than of my self, quite often. And I know I struggle with being lowly of Heart. I’m realizing I don’t want to be lowly. I want to be better than that. Not a nice realization. I’m so thankful Jesus calls me to come to Him and to learn of Him. And as the author says, ‘No hoops to jump through…
You don’t need to unburden or collect yourself and then come to Jesus. Your very burden is what qualifies you to come’

What makes it hard for you to believe that Jesus is gentle and lowly?

I appreciate what the author talked about concerning how we project on to God how we, as humans, assess people. I think that’s one of the reasons I find it hard to fully accept the humility and lowliness of heart Jesus claims for Himself. I think, ‘But He’s better than that so He must be disappointed and maybe even a bit repulsed by my repeated sins and bad attitudes.’ But, thank God :blush:, He does NOT
think like we do!

One of my first Pastors said once, ‘ We will be so surprised, when we get to heaven, to see that God is the most humble Being there is.’
That shocked me because I had always thought of God on His throne, high and lifted up, and sort of out of reach. But I know he was right.

Then my Dad pointed out this scripture to me, that Jesus spoke:

“For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:37‬ ‭

These verses bring to mind a very different picture of Jesus than the one my mind would come up with. Like the author says, ‘This is why we need a Bible.’

What needs can you bring to Jesus today?

I can bring Jesus my insecurities that make me want to ‘be better than that.’ I can bring Him my
fear that I’m not doing enough or being ‘spiritual enough’. I can bring Him my deep need for more of Him, and to learn of His heart.

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He created not only the literally unimaginably massive universe with its incomprehensible complexities out of actual nothingness but He creates life, too, and…He’s not arrogant! Moreover not only is He not arrogant He’s gentle and lowly in heart!

Carson, it just makes my heart laugh with joy!

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Thanks for these well put-together summary adding in your thoughts Carson. I’ll consider these my notes too!

For the questions:

  1. How would you describe your own heart? Is it gentle and lowly?

I cannot say that my heart is completely gentle and lowly. While in some aspects following Christ has molded my heart and mind towards a better character, I still cannot say that I am gentle and lowly in heart. Experience has taught me that always being kind and gentle can bring me the most painful heartbreaks. Relationally I am naturally a trusting person and my parents taught me to always be giving, accommodating and see the good in people. Eager to listen to good advise, I seem ‘easy’ in my young years. Gaining independence, I’ve realized that being kind can also mean being taking advantaged often. At some point I had to hardened a layer in my heart and place boundaries as a defense from further pains. The practical career world and business deals also seem to have preference for those who have confidence in themselves and claim a little showing-off or I-am-the-best to demonstrate capability and capacity for a certain type of work or position. The culture of selfies and social media, also makes it hard to promote a nature of lowliness in general. It is definitely something I should learn once more.

  1. What makes it hard for you to believe that Jesus is gentle and lowly?

Experience, the exposures I grew up in and my own gullibility made it hard for me to accept that Jesus is really just gentle and lowly.

I have observed that much of my mental image about God and Jesus have been incorrectly developed. Growing up, while I know that Jesus is loving, gracious and kind, I wonder if God the Father, while Almighty and Powerful, is also the same? Exposed to a strict faith community, I know that God is sacrificially loving because He gave His Son but I also confuse him as stern, conditional and strict. The Old Testament when viewed without deep understanding, especially to a young mind could paint a picture of an angry God always ready to strike. Growing older, when I came to meet Jesus, He is too sacrificial that I can’t live up to His standards. Some loving and faithful people in our church whom I admire were missionaries. The types that leave the pursuit of ‘riches of the world’ and go to the ends of the earth. While I desired to serve the Lord and his church just like them, not in the capacity as a missionary, I wonder if I’m doing or giving enough? I can only laugh now when I remember a time I really did think that focusing on my college studies robs me of my time for the Lord. I had a very idealistic mind. Added to that, while not all scripts are the same, it didn’t help that some messages from pastors whom I admire induce guilt of not serving the Lord enough, or the list of ‘don’ts’ on fire and brimstone messages may disqualify me of the Kingdom of God. It became a burden that Jesus’ sacrificial and loving nature became a standard I could never meet. All these made it easy for me to doubt my faith and question my beliefs later on. It wasn’t until much later and through time that I accepted in humility that salvation is grace and God’s true heart and nature is revealed in Jesus Christ who is gentle and lowly, a rest for our souls and not another impossible burden to endure.

  1. What needs can you bring to Jesus today?

Now this question makes me look deeply in my heart of what I truly need to bring to Jesus. Something I’m sure of is my need of His presence and that he will walk in very close fellowship with me everyday. I seem to have the habit of making decisions big or small, without consulting God first. I just pray to Him about these decisions as an afterthought. It worries me that this could be a behavior showing that I’m not truly submitting to Him nor pray to align His will for my life. It can feel lonely to keep making decisions on my own without regards to my best Buddy and Partner. Please be with me in prayer for these too.

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Re-reading these posts, I begin to think that I, at least, have probably not fully understood the phrase “gentle and lowly in heart.” And Micah 6:8 came to mind.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And that of course leads to other connections. “To act justly” takes me to I John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

The message here being the connection between (God’s) justice and forgiveness. There is also the emphasis on cleansing from unrighteousness. We are to “seek first the kingdom (kingship is implicit) of God, and His righteousness.” So in our relationships with others we are to be forgiving.

Part of that of course is showing mercy … in our hearts … I find a tendency deep down to be highly critical towards others, to assume ulterior motives when they act kindly or even just decently towards me, and I have to constantly struggle with the part of love that “believes the best,” “never gives up,” “is full of hope.” I feel no mercy towards the driver behind me, that honks and flashes headlights because I am driving “only the speed limit,” then overtakes at furious speed crossing double solid lines, and squeezes back into the right lane so tightly that I must brake hard. … And a little voice inside says - “show mercy and stop being judgemental . you don’t know his circumstances…”

By contrast Jesus dealt gently (but firmly) with the woman that was caught in the act of adultery. “…nor do I condemn you, go and don’t do it again (sin no more)” And even with the accusers he did not verbally chastise them for their hypocrisy, or their doubt standards towards men and women. Instead, his “mercy” towards them was to allow them to judge themselves, and to challenge them on the reason they should also show mercy. Everyone of them withdrew in this self-examination.

I am not only to show mercy, I am to love mercy! Because I have received such bountiful mercy. This is the opposite of wanting revenge, vengeance, or “the world’s justice” that is geared primarily to shame, punishment and separation from community. I am not only called to love mercy in my own application of it, but I should rejoice when I see someone else being merciful, rather than being vengeful, demanding the “full force of the law.”

Lowly” I connect directly with “humbly.” God requires that I walk/live humbly. What struck me particularly strongly as I read Micah just now is the preposition he uses: “walk (or live) humbly WITH your God.” He does not say walk humbly before your God, but with Him. Somehow our “right” to be called children of God is to be borne humbly, not proudly or arrogantly. Like Jesus, we should be confident enough in our relationship with our heavenly Father that we don’t have to flaunt it in front of everyone, we don’t have to announce it. And knowing that I am not alone in this relationship should make me respectful of all those others - actual and potential - who are also His children. I am not better, or more favoured, certainly not more deserving, than any of them. I should be willing to serve them in whatever capacity God has prepared for me, and to do it as if I were doing it directly for God. If I were more conscious that God is indeed walking with me, I’m pretty sure I would feel more humble. So that is one thing I need - to be really conscious that He is walking with me, seeing all I do, hearing all my words and thoughts, giving me guidance, strength, encouragement, hope, and reminding me, that without Him I can do nothing, but with Him all things are possible.

And when such a brother or sister sins against me, or grieves me, I should treat them “gently” and with humility, simply because I am to love mercy and walk humbly, well aware of my own tendencies to err. (Galatians 6:1)

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