A Gentle Answer by Scott Sauls– Book Review

This book will challenge you, convict you and possibly bring you to tears, as you consider how gentle Jesus is to us, and how often we fail to extend that same gentleness to others.

It is divided into two sections.  The first describes the gentleness of Jesus who befriends the sinner (in us), reforms the Pharisee (in us) and disarms the cynic (in us).  The second section discusses how his gentleness should change us.  We must become less prone to taking offense, control our anger, receive criticism graciously, forgive completely and bless those who hurt and betray us.  He uses stories and examples, some personal, others well-known, to illustrate his points.

Many of us are self-satisfied because we have avoided the “big” sins;  throughout this book, the author reminds us that we are all capable of serious transgressions when the situation is right.  We may not kill, but we have murderous thoughts;  we may not steal, but we rob others of their good reputation through gossip;  we give lip service to forgiveness while harboring grudges, and so on.

After each chapter there are discussion questions, so this book could be easily used in a small group.  In fact, I think it would be an excellent choice, because it encourages change as well as understanding.  Two of the questions are always the same:

  • Name one thing from this chapter that troubled you, inspired you, or both.  Why were you impacted in this way?
  • Based on this chapter, identify one way that the Lord might be nudging you toward growth or change.  What steps should you take to pursue this change?

VERDICT:  5 Stars.  Biblically sound and highly recommended.  It certainly comes at an opportune time, when gentleness is sadly lacking in our society.

P.S. In case you haven’t noticed, gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, so I selected this read because of our monthly theme.

For more on gentleness see:

With Gentleness and Respect

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Some Quotes on the Fruit of the Spirit

 

Some Quotes on the Fruit of the Spirit

“We have cause to suspect our religion if it does not make us gentle, and forbearing, and forgiving;  if the love of our Lord does not so flood our hearts as to cleanse them of all bitterness, and spite, and wrath.  If a man is nursing anger, if he is letting his mind become a nest of foul passions, malice, and hatred and evil wishing, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

Hugo Black

 

“The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it,come from our conduct to each other. If our conduct,therefore, were under the control of kindness, it would be nearly the opposite of what it is, and so the state of the world would be almost reversed.  We are for the most part unhappy because the world is an unkind world.  But the world is only unkind for the lack of kindness in us units who compose it.”d

Frederick Wm. Faber

 

“Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”

St. Teresa of Avila

For more on the fruit of the Spirit see these posts:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Fruit of the Spirit

Martin Luther on the Fruit of the Spirit

A Fruit We All Need — Self Control

 

 

 

 

 

Make My Joy Complete

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he is addressing people he knows and loves.  He urges them to “make my joy complete” by being of one accord, living in self- sacrificing love and unity with one another.  It reminds me of this verse from Psalm 133:

Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!

If you are part of a church community, you know how true this is, and how disturbing disagreements can be.  My devotional reading this morning featured a quote by Andrew Murray (1828-1917), a South African writer and pastor.  It speaks to this topic.

“Let our temper be under the rule of the love of Jesus:  He can not alone curb it–He can make us gentle and patient.  Let the vow, that not an unkind word of others shall ever be heard from our lips, be laid trustingly at His feet.  Let the gentleness that refuses to take offense, that is always ready to excuse, to think and hope the best, mark our intercourse with all.  Let our life be one of self-sacrifice, always studying the welfare of others, finding our highest joy in blessing others.  And let us, in studying the Divine art of doing good, yield ourselves as obedient learners to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  By His grace, the most common-place life can be transfigured with the brightness of a heavenly beauty, as the infinite love of the Divine nature shines out of our humanity.”

Let’s all make it our prayer today, that the fruit of the Spirit will be displayed in our lives, and in the life of our Christian communities.

For more on the fruit of the Spirit see these posts:

Mmm . . . Fruit.

Let the Fruit of the Spirit Flow

A Fruit We All Need — Self Control

With Gentleness and Respect

 

Years ago, when our younger daughter Kate(now one of the Lutheran ladies) had just started high school, I received a phone call from the school office.  I was told that Kate would be suspended for three days because she was caught smoking.  The school secretary was somewhat apologetic, probably because Kate was a good student, and explained the punishment was mandatory.  She added “We want you to know that Kate was very respectful and polite when we questioned her.”

 Of course, I was unhappy and disappointed.  However, I know that teenagers push the boundaries and I trusted Kate would learn from her mistake and its’ consequences.  Surprisingly, the school called me back later the same day to say they had been wrong, and Kate would not be suspended.  Kate insisted that she was not smoking.  Because of her past history and her courteous behavior, the principal spoke with the coach who reported the smoking incident.  She had seen Kate with a group of students who were smoking, and assumed Kate was also.  She admitted she did not actually see Kate with a cigarette. 

 By this time you’re probably wondering, “and what is the point of this story?”  Well, here it is: Kate’s prior behavior and courtesy earned her a hearing.  The school took a second look at the evidence and realized Kate was telling the truth.  As Christians we can learn a lesson from this.  The Bible tells us:

    “… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”(1 Peter 3:15). 

  People will not listen to the good news of the gospel from a person they perceive as self righteous.  They will not listen to a person who buries them in Bible verses without giving them a chance to respond.  They will not listen when they are treated as if the views they hold are ignorant or stupid. 

 Many people today know practically nothing about Christianity beyond generalities that they accept as truth. They’ve heard a lot of New Age nonsense about what it means to be spiritual. They may have been told that all religions are the same, just different paths to God. To them the Bible is simply another book they haven’t read and they have no incentive to accept what it says. To give them “ears that can hear” we must first earn their trust.  We must listen to them respectfully, and then, when the opportunity presents, gently explain our own beliefs.  We can tell them about our personal experiences and the things we know to be true as witnesses, not theologians or even students of the Bible.  We can answer their questions without being condescending.  If our attitude and behavior is caring, kind, and humble it may lead some to take a closer look at what we have to say.  Then we can trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Image result for gentle and quiet spirit

Who exemplifies this verse to you?  It always makes me think of my mother.  She is in a nursing home now with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, but that gentle and quiet spirit still shines through.

How does the Bible describe gentleness?

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

Many people in mom’s situation are angry and frustrated.  They act out and make difficulties for those around them.  I know mom is frustrated, too, when she cannot find the words to tell us what she wants, or can’t remember the answer to a question we ask.  Yet, I have never seen her behave in an angry, rude or confrontational way.

“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

Mom has always been a humble person, never one to be demanding, or put herself first. She bears with her situation patiently.

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to be gentle and show perfect courtesy toward all people.”  Titus 3:1

Once again, gentleness seems to be associated with courtesy.  My mom’s behavior always taught me to be kind and courteous to others.  Courtesy doesn’t seem to be valued these days, but it can go a long way toward winning someone over.  Listen to this:

“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you:  yet do this with gentleness and respect.”  1 Peter 3:15

Being gentle will further our witness to Christ.  Who has taught you the art of being gentle? We want to hear your story.

New Month/New Theme

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:23

One of our authors was interested in having some sort of “free for all” month when we could write on any topic.  After discussion we decided to select “fruit of the spirit” as our theme for December.  Although we are limited to the nine qualities above, this still allows us a wide range of verses and ideas for blogging.

The fruit of the spirit also seems especially appropriate for the Christmas season.  This is a time when we should experience this fruit as we eagerly await Christ’s birth.  But do we?  Sometimes this season of joy and peace becomes filled with stress and discord.  Our patience is tried as we attempt to do it all:  shopping, baking, entertaining. Instead of being kind, gentle and loving, we become tired, irritable and whiney.  Self control is lost as we participate in the gluttony of eating, drinking and gift-giving.

Surely this is not what Christmas is about.  So join into our blog discussions and let us know how this Holy Season is affecting you.  Is the fruit of the spirit evident in your life?  How can you cultivate this fruit?  Let us know what you think.

God loves you and so do I!